THE HEX BAR
For years, athletes and coaches have been afraid of the dead lift. Now, with the revolutionary Hex Bar, those fears can be remedied!
By Matt Shepard
Published: Winter 1998
WHAT IS THE HEX BAR AND THE HIGH HEX BAR?
The Hex Bar is a modified bar designed for a bio-mechanically correct execution of the Dead Lift. Some use a Trap Bar which is similar in function. The Hex Bar is 45 pounds and constructed of cold rolled steal bent into a hexagonal shape, allowing the lifter to perform exercises from inside the encompassing bar. Hand grips are strategically placed on the two sides of the bar enabling the weight on the bar to be in perfect alignment with the Power Line at all times. The Power Line is an imaginary line that runs straight up through the lifters center mass. Executing the dead lift movement through the Power Line enables the athlete to develop maximum power and reduce the risk of injury. The farther away the weight gets from the Power Line the more the lifter's power is lost. For example, how long can you hold a 45 pound bar with your arms straight down and the bar resting against you thighs? Probably for a long time. Now try holding that bar out about a foot from your thighs. It's a lot harder. The farther away the bar gets from center mass the harder it gets to hold and the more power is lost. In addition, because the Hex Bar makes correct technique so easy, the need for a spotter is eliminated.
Conveniently, the Hex Bar was also designed to accept Olympic plates and has no moving parts to ever break. The bar is extremely strong, so go ahead, stack the weight on. The Hex Bar is also only 56 inches long as compared with the 86 inches of space that regular Olympic bars occupy. This allows for many Hex Bar stations in a very small area. Also, the smaller length of the bar decreases the distance of the weight from the lifter. This gives the lifter more control and balance for a more efficient, higher-intensity work-out.
A variation of the Hex Bar is the High Hex Bar. They are both identical except the High Hex Bar has elevated hand grips. The higher starting position allowed by the High Hex Bar makes executing exercises easier for beginning and tall lifters. It also provides an excellent way to give variety to workouts.
Conquering the FEAR of the dead lift is the Hex Bar's goal! The dead lift is a superb exercise for increasing glute, hamstring, lower back, and overall torso strength. But, unfortunately, the great benefits of the dead lift have been over-shadowed for years by FEAR. Coaches and athletes have been afraid of the heavy weight and difficult technique associated with the dead lift. The key to conquering this FEAR is proper technique. As with all lifts, proper technique will eliminate potential injury. With the Hex Bar, great technique has never been easier. The Hex Bar makes doing the dead lift easy and fun for anyone. A few of the Utah Jazz players even claimed the Hex Bar dead lift to be one of their favorite lifts.
To perform the dead lift with the Hex or High Hex Bar, the lifter must step into the center of the hexagon and assume the BFS jump stance. The lifter then must squat down and grab the hand grips on both sides of the bar. Make sure the hands are placed squarely in the middle of the handles for balance. The lifter should lower the hips, spread the chest, lock the lower back in place, keep the head up with eyes forward, and put the knees directly over the feet. Now the lifter should lift the bar straight up through the Power Line using the legs. Because of the unique design of the Hex Bar, the weight can be kept along the Power Line throughout the whole lift. Once the lifter has stood completely up, the first repetition is complete and the lifter is ready for the next rep. The lifter should now proceed to squat back down, again, keeping the lower back locked in, chest spread, and eyes forward. To keep back strain to a minimum, the athlete should bounce the weights slightly off the floor when doing repetitions. Do not come to a stop and pause in the down position between each rep. As in all lifts, the head should be up and chin stretched away from the chest. If the chin touches the chest, the whole body will come dangerously out of position which adversely effects the amount of weight that can be lifted and, more importantly, compromises back safety.
This lift should be performed once a week for three to five sets of no more than five repetitions (the BFS Set-Rep System). For male athletes, the BFS Varsity Standard for the Hex Bar dead lift is 400 pounds, the All-State Standard is 500 pounds, and the All-American Standard is 600 pounds. The female athletes have a Varsity Standard of 235, an All-State Standard of 325, and an All-American Standard of 415.
THE OLYMPIC BAR
Each school should have at least two Hex Bars and one High Hex Bar. However, If your school does not yet have any Hex Bars, then an Olympic bar can be used with a spotter. However, because Olympic bars are straight, lifting through the Power Line is prohibited by the body. This bio-mechanical problem is manageable when using lighter weights as with cleans, however, when doing dead lifts, the heavier weight magnifies the problem making it harder to stay in correct position. This causes some lifters to lean forward, raise their butts, and/or round their backs during the exercise. Hence, the FEAR. One of the biggest and easiest ways around this potential safety hazard is by using a spotter. So learn good spotting techniques and eliminate the FEAR.
When a spotter is used correctly, there should be no injuries occurring while dead lifting. When the lifter is in the down position, the spotter should press down with one hand on the lower back and hook the other arm around the lifter's shoulder and chest . The crook of the elbow should be secured against the lifter's shoulder while the fist or hand is placed firmly in the middle of the chest. The spotter and lifter should coordinate the lift together. The spotter could say “one-two-up”. As the lift is begun, the spotter should pull up and back while pushing in on the lifters lower back. The spotter should pull backward as the lifter comes up to get the weight back on the lifter's heels. When the weight is shifted back toward the heels and power line, the dead lift can normally be completed in safety. Just like when doing the dead lift with the Hex Bar, the lifter should maintain good form by keeping the lower back locked-in, the chest spread and the head up.
A spotter should always be used when doing dead lifts with an Olympic bar except during power-lifting contests or for school records. BFS standards for dead lifts with Olympic bars are the same as with the Hex Bar. It should be noted that a spotter usually helps 50 to 75 pounds.
The Hex Bar can also be used for a variety of other lifts. Some common lifts that might be performed are shoulder shrugs, upright rows, straight-leg dead lifts, etc.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
The BFS Dead Lift and Trap Bar Video provides excellent instruction and visual aid on how to perform the dead lift. The dead lift is also featured in the BFS Total Program Video. See the inside front cover of the Magazine for more information.