I remember in April 2020 when the gyms were shutting down and panic started. My clients were asking me – what, at a minimum did they need to buy to be able to recreate their gym workouts – at home.
My list of basic items for the majority of my clients always includes a Hex bar. A Hex bar or commonly referred to as Trap bar is a hexagon shaped weight lifting bar that keeps weight centered for better balance and stress reduction on your back and spine. It is typically 45lbs on its own – which lends it to be a purposeful fundamental piece of equipment.
My 5 favorite exercises with the Hex bar are:
- Deadlift (RDL)
- Partial Deadlift (RDL)
- Bent over rows
- Farmers walk
Let’s break down, the functionality of these moves and why the
Hex is a great tool for them.
Fundamentally before anyone should add load to a squat we need to make sure they can sit in a chair, with good spinal posture, knees over heels NOT toes AND are able to stand with energy driving through heels and glutes NOT knees. Now with this in mind – enter the HEX bar.
Look at the natural arm and hand placement of our body and compare this to the set up on the HEX. Adding weight to the squat movement with the HEX and holding that weight in a natural position, providing you are able to rise from a seated position properly with only bodyweight – will be more functionally correct and will decrease risk of injury.
DEADLIFT / Partial DEADLIFT: (Straight leg / RDL)
With this exercise we have similar obstacles as the squat. Spinal alignment, glute engagement with “sitting” into the movement, energy driving through the heels and NOT hunching the back. The handles of the HEX provide an easier approach for this exercise. The natural hand/arm placement is key and will decrease risk of energy and increase effectiveness of the exercise due to proper form and range of motion. Grip strength is also a common obstacle with deadlifts, especially in women. When adding a decrease of grip strength to spinal misalignment and improper range of motion – the deadlift or any form of can become daunting, The deadlift goes from being an awesome compound move to one that is rarely done due to fear of become injured or simply not being able to do it correctly. The “partial” version of this is dropping the bar TO or BELOW zero and driving through heels to the knees for a finishing point. The partial can be done elevated on a small step if desired
BENT OVER ROW:
Inline with the theme of proper form, functionality, range of motion and spinal alignment we move to one of my absolute favorite upper body compound exercises. There is a great deal of similarity in the form set up with the (RDL) deadlift and in the bent over row. Foot placement, energy seated in the heels and glutes, and spinal alignment with a flat not hunched back. We will keep knees slightly softer for this. Again, the grip and hand placement when using the HEX bar lends itself to a smoother more efficient exercise experience.
Rounding out my TOP 5 with more of an endurance move. Yes I love my hybrid compound moves and this one does not disappoint. If you research the “Farmers Walk” you can find typically 13 or more benefits ranging from improving posturing and athleticism to building abs and enhancing power. With the HEX it may be tricky if you have a longer stride but if you can work around that you will find this to be a great alternative to kettlebells especially once you find you can “walk” with more weight.
There are so many more exercises that can be done with a HEX bar if you have a sturdy squat rack cage. Pull-ups and incline rows are more that I know you will love. If all you have is a HEX and want to use it for shoulder or chest presses be careful of the load and set up. Stay safe for all of these moves. Have a spot if you can. Make sure you can do every exercise with proper form with only your bodyweight before adding in the HEX bar. Clear new moves with your Doctor if you have any preexisting injuries. AND finally, remember- NEVER sacrifice form for added weight!