You've probably dabbled with regular barbell deadlifts from time to time, but hex bar deadlifts could be the new secret weapon in your arsenal for a sexy, slender physique. A hex bar, also known as a trap bar, is that hexagonal-shaped bar that has slightly raised handles and probably sits in the corner of your gym's weight room gathering dust. Give the hex bar a try by performing your deadlifts with it instead of the normal straight bar.
Hamstrings and Glutes
Deadlifts place a lot of focus on your hamstrings and glutes. Your hamstrings are responsible for flexing your knees and extending your hips -- both of which occur during deadlifts. Your glutes come into play at the top of the exercise, so stand fully upright on every rep; otherwise you're missing out on the booty-building benefits of hex bar deadlifts.
Regular deadlifts don't really hit your quads, but this certainly isn't the case when using the hex bar. You're in a more upright position when deadlifting with a trap bar, which places more stress on your quads. You can even use the trap bar deadlift as a replacement for squats if your knees are banged up but you still want to work your quads, according to strength training website One Result.
Forearms, Grip and Core
Forearm and grip strength are often overlooked but are surprisingly important. If you've ever had to stop several times while walking home from grocery shopping due to that burning sensation in your lower arms, you'll know how much of a limiting factor weak forearms can be. Your arms stay completely straight when you are doing hex bar deadlifts, so they need to be super strong to stop you from dropping the bar. You also need a rock solid core, which is responsible for keeping your torso upright and prevents you from rounding your back and injuring yourself.
Put hex bar deadlifts in your lower-body workouts or perform them as part of a full-body session. As they work so many muscles and are highly demanding, do them near the start of your workout. Beginners should start with three sets of 10 to 12 reps with 60 seconds between sets, while more advanced lifters can go for three sets of eight to 10 reps with a slightly heavier weight and 60 to 75 seconds between sets, advises Joe Dowdell, personal trainer and owner of Peak Performance, NYC.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.