Question: Deadlifts bother my lower back too much, but I need to build more strength and power in my lower body for sports. Is there an alternative to deadlifts that is just as effective? – M. Flanagan, Fulton, MO

Answer: Yes, there is an alternative exercise to the deadlift that is just as effective, if not more so. The hex-bar (or trap bar) deadlift puts you at a better mechanical advantage than the standard deadlift, taking stress of your lower back while allowing you to engage all the same muscle groups, though to a slightly diferent degree, as I’ll explain in a moment. One study from the U.K. reported that when trained powerlifters performed hex-bar deadlifts, they could, on average, pull almost 50 pounds more than when they did the standard deadlift using an Olympic barbell. The researchers concluded that the greater strength was due to the fact that the hex bar keeps the weight closer to the body. So while the hex-bar deadlift engages the same muscle groups as the standard deadlift, it allows you to use more of the quadriceps to lift the bar and less hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. 

To do the deadlift using a hex bar, stand in the middle of a loaded hex bar and squat down to grab the handles.In the start position, your thighs should be just above parallel to the floor with your torso bent forward at about a 45-degree angle. Drive your heels through the floor as you extend at the knees and hips to reach a fully upright position, then slowly lower the bar back to the start.

The workout:
Try using the hex-bar deadlift in the following leg workout to build more power, strength and size. 

EXERCISE               SETS  REPS    REST

Jump Squat                2        3-5       2-min
Hex-bar Deadlift        4        4-6       2-min
Front Squat                3        8-12     2-min
Walking Lunge          3        8-12     1-min

See the hex-bar deadlift in action on M&F Raw!

QUICK TIP: For the high quality Hex bar with dual handles in the photo, visit Watson Gym Equipment