As our theme for exercise is the back this month in this blog I want to briefly talk about a big compound exercise that is the Deadlift. Since the Deadlift is a compound movement it utilises nearly every major muscle of your body not just the back.
Deadlifting helps to increase stability control. While using machines to train muscles will isolate and target only a specific few muscle groups, the deadlift also involves supplementary and minor muscles called stabiliser muscles that are usually ignored by the mainstream. The lack of training of these stabilizer muscles will lead to imbalances and can lead a person to be more susceptible to injury and unsymmetrical physique. Another huge benefit from deadlifting it is one of the few exercises with real life application, pickup weight off the ground is something we’ve been doing for ever and is exactly what the deadlift trains the body to do.
Traditionally it is done with a straight long barbell, but of all the bizarre looking pieces of equipment in our private personal training studio, none draw as many confused looks from our new clients as the Hex bar. But despite the awkward appearance, the Hex Bar might just be the greatest innovation in strength-training and body shaping equipment in the last few years.
Many coaches (including myself) have theorised that the Hex bar deadlift allows lifters to:
• Lift more weight • Place less loading on the spine, and • Get more knee extensor involvement
These findings were all shown to be true in a brand new study that I read up recently by Swinton et al. (2011) titled A Biomechanical Analysis of Straight and Hexagonal Barbell Deadlifts Using Submaximal Loads.
As it was pointed out, the biggest drawback of straight bar deadlift is the amount of harmful stress it can put on the lumbar spine. The exercise require the weight to be some distance away from the axis of rotation where the work is being performed (i.e., the hip), therefore relying on the back to act like a “crowbar” to move the weight of the floor.
As a result, your training weights are limited to the capabilities of your back extensors to resist flexion as much, if not more, than your legs’ ability to produce maximum force as you might expect, when things don’t go strictly according to plan, it’s your spine that’s going to be in big trouble.
Since the Hex bar design allows you to step inside it rather than behind it, the long lever is shortened along a horizontal axis, so significantly reducing the amount of sheer force on your spine. So in y opinion not only is the Hex bar deadlift a safer exercise than the straight bar version, it is also a more effective exercise for building maximum power.
The deadlift exercise works your erector spinae, or lower back muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and traps. However, the hex bar changes the dynamics of the deadlift exercise, compared to using a regular barbell. The hex bar transfers more of the load to the knees, reducing the load to the hips and lumbar spine. This means that the hex bar deadlift works the leg muscles more than it does your lower back muscles.
Movement: A deadlift involves pulling a loaded bar off the floor to thigh-level. With a hex bar, stand inside the perimeter of the bar, making sure your feet are positioned equidistant between the front and back of the bar. Push your hips back, bend your knees and squat down to grab the handles. Keep your back straight; do not allow it to round. Push through your heels to straighten your knees and hips, lifting the bar off the floor.
Continue until you are in a standing position with the weight at your thighs Thrusting your hips forward. As you approach the top of the movement, squeeze your glutes together and brace your abdominals to finish the movement.