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What Exercises Can You Use a Hex Bar For?
The hex trap barbell has always been associated with deadlifts. It allows the user to execute a deadlift whilst keeping the weight load closer to the centre of gravity, thereby reducing lower back stress. However, this speciality barbell is much more versatile than you may think, and it could be a great addition for anyone looking to obtain a full body workout.
Below we’ve listed a number of exercises you can perform with the hex bar, giving you a great all over body workout. Keep in mind that some of these exercises will be better suited to an open sided trap barbell or larger size trap bars.
Trap Bar Squat
The trap bar squat will effectively target the glutes and quads and is a great variation on a regular front or back squat. Whilst this does seem very similar to the trap bar deadlift, there are some slight changes to the movement pattern including more knee extension and lower hips giving you more a squat exercise.
How To Perform The Trap Bar Squat
- Step into the trap bar and position your feet around shoulder width apart.
- Squat down to grab the handlebars whilst keeping your back straight with chest and head up.
- Once you have a hold of the handles, drive back up through your heels until standing.
- Throughout the exercise, be sure to keep your core engaged for stability and torso upright.
- Repeat the desired number of repetitions.
To improve the range of motion, place something such as a rubber tile under the trap bar before you proceed. This will elevate you slightly allowing you to squat a little deeper.
You can make a hex bar squat more challenging by incorporating resistance. Simply hook or tie a resistance band from one handle to the other. Once you step into the bar prior to undertaking the movement, be sure to place both feet on the band so that tension is created once you pull the bar from the ground.
The walking lunge is a great functional exercise which will work a large number of muscles including the anterior tibialis (which will stabilise the ankle), the calf muscles, hamstrings, quads and glutes. These group of lower body muscles all work together both concentrically and eccentrically helping to provide stability. You’ll also be utilising your arms (to carry the weight), back and core muscles making this a good option for an all over body hit.
The ideal trap bar for a walking lunge would be an open sided one which would allow for the optimum range of motion. However, some people have successfully executed the exercise by positioning a standard trap bar with the weight horns in front and behind (as opposed to either side).
How To Perform A Trap Bar Walking Lunge
- Load the bar up with the desired amount of weight.
- If using an open sided trap bar, keep the open side behind you.
- Squat down to grab the handlebars and return to an upright position.
- Take a big step forward so that both knees bend to approximately 90 degrees.
- Keep the knee of your front leg in line with your toe, this will keep stress off of the knee joint and ensure weight is equally distributed across your quads, hamstrings and glutes. If you find that your knee falls in front of your toe, this could be that you have not taken a large enough step forward.
- Push back up to a standing position and then begin again with the other leg.
Throughout this exercise make sure that your core remains engaged and your back is straight, do not allow your torso to creep forwards. This not only helps with stability but will reduce any chance of injury. If you feel unstable during the exercise, try lowering the weight.
Bent Over Row
The bent over row is a compound exercise that recruits the upper back muscles, rear delts along with the biceps and forearms. A strong upper back is crucial for healthy shoulder joints and overall trunk stability and will also offer excellent carry over to other exercises.
If you have any weakness with your lower back it may be advisable to wear a weightlifting belt.
How To Perform A Bent Over Row Using A Trap Bar
- Load the bar with your chosen weight. You need to keep a straight back throughout so don’t be tempted to go too heavy as this could have a detrimental effect on your form.
- Step inside the bar and bend over to grab the handlebars.
- Remain hinged at the hips and keep your back straight with your chest and head up.
- Pull the weight up towards your hip crease.
- Repeat the desired number of reps.
If you feel that the bar is tilting forwards or backwards as you undertake the exercise, try and alter your hand position on the handlebars to prevent this happening.
The farmers walk is a traditional strong man exercise that involves walking with heavy load. It targets a large number of muscles and is effective for training the central nervous system (cns). This challenging exercise is also ideal for fat burning.
How To Do A Trap Bar Farmers Walk
- Load the bar up with a considerable amount of weight. Go heavy enough that the walk feels challenging to you but not so heavy that you could injure yourself.
- Hinge at the hips so you bend forward and take hold of the handlebars. Return back to a standing position by pushing up through your heels. Don’t be tempted to pull the weight up using your arms and keep your back straight as you stand upright.
- Once in position, simply take small steps forward.
- As the weight is heavy, you’ll find you are tensing the whole body. This is great for training your CNS.
- Throughout the exercise, keep your back straight, chest up and shoulders back. Do not allow your shoulders to roll forwards.
- Keep going until failure, this is usually when your grip will give up.
If you do this exercise prior to anything else, you may notice a better output when moving on to your next exercise. In other words, you could find you can a lift a little heavier!
As grip strength is going to be the first thing to give out, overtime, and as long as you continue to undertake the exercise, you’ll find you can walk longer distances as your grip strength will greatly improve with this movement. You can also progress by increasing the weight load too.
Hex Bar Overhead Press
If you want to activate your shoulders and triceps for an effective workout then the overhead press is one of the best exercises you can incorporate into your training. Typically done with a barbell or dumbbells, you can also make use of a trap bar for versatility.
Using the trap bar as opposed to a standard barbell offers a number of benefits. Firstly, your hands will be positioned in a neutral grip position (where the palms face inwards), this is a much more natural grip and minimises stress to the wrists. Secondly, it’s easier to keep the elbows tucked in which ensures you press with good form and helps to prevent injury.
How To Do An Overhead Press With A Trap Bar
- Set your trap bar up in a power rack or squat rack, the bar should sit at around shoulder height.
- Position yourself underneath the bar. Your head should be inside the hex shape.
- Take hold of the handlebars making sure they are positioned in the centre.
- Stand upright and you’ll unrack the bar.
- Brace your core and press the weight up towards the ceiling keeping your elbows close to your body throughout.
- Slowly lower the bar back down to the starting position and repeat.
When doing this exercise, if you happen to notice instability, check the position of your hands and make sure they are positioned dead centre of the handlebars.
Trap Bar Floor Press
The floor press is an upper body exercise that eliminates the use of your leg drive when compared to undertaking a bench press. The small range of motion with this exercise ensures you pause at the bottom and helps to achieve lock out (this is when your arms are outstretched in front of you). For this reason, it’s a very popular movement with competitive powerlifters.
How To Do A Trap Bar Floor Press
- Start by placing the bar slightly elevated from the ground. You can do this by positioning J hooks lower down on a power rack so you can rack the bar or, place rubber tiles or something similar either side of where your head will be.
- Once the bar is positioned correctly, lie down and get underneath it with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. You should be able to grab the handlebars and press up in a vertical plane of motion.
- When in position, take hold of the handlebars and press up. Lock out at the elbows to finish.
- Return back to the starting position. Before repeating, make sure your elbows have touched the ground.
If you’re accustomed to bench pressing, you’ll likely find that you cannot press nearly as much weight when doing the floor press variation. This is, as stated, due to you not being able to drive through your legs. If you find yourself pushing through your feet during a floor press, your hips will start to come off the floor. If this is the case, reduce the weight and try again. Another thing to note is that when pressing, try and keep your shoulders tucked back to prevent any shoulder injuries.
As demonstrated above, the trap bar is definitely not just for deadlifts. It’s a very versatile barbell that will allow your to add much more versatility to your workouts helping you to push through plateaus, build muscle and burn fat.