Best Hex Bars

Updated June 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
120 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best hex bars

One of most impressive feats of strength is the deadlift. It requires strength in the upper and lower body, proper form, balance, and lots of practice. While it’s common to perform deadlifts with a barbell, an increasingly popular alternative is the hexagonal, or hex, bar.

Also known as a trap bar, the hex bar allows for a safer deadlift with more weight used as compared to the barbell. Instead of pulling a barbell up in front of you, you stand inside a hexagonal frame and raise the hex bar using the handles.

If you’re a strength trainer or competitor, a hex bar may prove a worthy addition to your assortment of fitness equipment and accessories. This buying guide details the benefits and drawbacks of hex bars. We explore the exercises that can be performed with a hex bar and what to look for when shopping.

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Hex bars can be used by strength trainers of all skill levels and are especially helpful for beginners. However, you need the proper core and back strength to effectively wield a hex bar.

Key considerations

Usage

The hex bar is mainly used for two exercises: the deadlift and the shrug. While its versatility in terms of movements is limited, the muscles it targets are many. Deadlifts work the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and spine erectors. The traps, obliques, and abdominals are also engaged. Hex bars are powerful tools in strength training

Benefits

As mentioned, using a hex bar is generally accepted as better for back support than a standard barbell. For beginners, deadlifts are easier to learn with a hex bar than a barbell. There is also reason to believe that the neutral position of the forearms reduces stress and potential injury to the wrists, biceps, and elbows. What’s more, some users find they can perform a deadlift at slightly higher weight than with a barbell.

Drawbacks

Hex bars require power from the legs, which means less power from the lower back and core. For those who want to focus on back and core muscles, the hex bar may not be the most effective option relative to the barbell.

Fitness bars generally come in two sizes: standard (1-inch diameter) and Olympic (2-inch diameter). Hex bars almost exclusively come in the Olympic size since they are geared toward training with a lot of weight. Bars are compatible with plates of the same size.

Capacity

Hex bars are designed to withstand a lot of pressure and carry a lot of weight. Intermediate and advanced trainers who want to move ahead in their fitness journey should make sure a new hex bar purchase would be able to withstand the weights they use. Most hex bars have a weight capacity of at least 400 pounds. Some go up to 750 pounds, and a few have a 1,000-pound weight limit. 

Hex space

To use a hex bar, you must stand within the hex, so you’ll want to make sure the space comfortably accommodates you. Most hex bars have around 25 inches of space between the handles. Keep in mind that this consideration isn’t just about standing within the hex bar but also about where your shoulders are relative to the handles. An inch more or less may be the difference between a comfortable lift and a not-so-comfortable one.

Accessories

A new hex bar will most likely not come with plates unless you happen upon a bundle deal. You will need to acquire the appropriately sized plates, which may cost as much or even more than the bar itself. While plates are durable and last a long time, the initial investment may seem steep. Consider the weights you’d need to effectively utilize a hex bar and whether you own any other equipment (curl bar, bench press) that could also use the weights. Many weights can be used on their own for certain exercises, too.

If you’ve never used a hex bar before, try one out before purchasing to see how it feels. Remove all weights and just practice with the bar alone.

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Features

Raised handles

Most hex bars come with raised handles for an easy, comfortable grip. With raised handles, you will likely have the option of turning the hex bar over to access handles that are flush with the rest of the bar. Raised handles are useful for beginners in particular.

Knurled grip

Holding a chrome bar is easier with a knurled handle, in which a pattern is carved into the bar to prevent slippage. Most bars have a knurled portion, but coverage and pattern differ from model to model. Without knurling, you would likely need to use chalk or gloves to maintain a strong hold.

Accessories

Curl bar: CAP Barbell E-Z Curl Bar
A useful complement to the hex bar is the curl bar, which can be used to strengthen the upper body in various ways. This standard option from CAP Barbell is inexpensive and effective.

Plates: XMark Fitness Olympic Plate Set
Weight plates are a necessary accessory for bar training exercises. We like this set of 10 weights from XMark. It comes at a good price and is ideal for beginners.

Weight plate tree: Champion Barbell Olympic Plate Holder
Storing plates can be tricky, especially if they’re heavy. Keep them securely stowed on a plate tree, like this strong and versatile option from Champion Barbell.

Weightlifting belt: Iron Company Power Lifting Belt
A weightlifting belt can help protect your back and tighten your core as you perform lifts. Check out this heavy-duty lifting belt from Iron Company to keep you safe and focused.

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Did You Know?
The hex bar is a relatively recent invention. It was patented in the 1980s by Al Gerard, an American fitness enthusiast who sought ways to lift more weight with less back pain.
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Hex bar prices

Inexpensive: For around $75, you can find a handful of hex bar options. These will likely be shorter on length, hex space, and maximum weight capacity than pricier options.

Mid-range: Most hex bars cost between $75 and $150. These come in a range of sizes and may have more than one grip option.

Expensive: Pricier hex bars run from $150 to $200 or more. These bars often have a high maximum weight, raised handles, and knurled grips.

When shopping, note that the hex bar has a few different names. It’s often referred to as a trap bar but may also be called a shrug bar or deadlift bar.

Staff
BestReviews

Tips

  • Practice your form. Any exercise, especially a deadlift, takes time to learn. Practice your form regularly, as this will help you get the most out of your workout and prevent injury.
  • Remember to stretch. It’s important to loosen up your muscles before and after you work out. Incorporate stretches that work your entire body to prevent injury.
  • Develop a training routine. It’s not enough to use a piece of exercise equipment now and then. Those who are serious need a coordinated, balanced training program to achieve their goals and maximize results.
  • Be patient. Investing in a piece of training equipment does not mean you’ll quickly develop big muscles and become stronger. Dedication and patience are crucial when you’re toning and strengthening.
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Most hex bars resist rust and corrosion and require little maintenance. Wipe your hex bar down after use, and store it in a cool, dry place.

FAQ

Q. How safe is a hex bar to use?

A. As with any exercise, proper form and motion are required to maintain safety. Any time you exercise without a machine to direct and control your movements, there is a risk of pulling or straining a muscle if you don’t perform the exercise precisely. Deadlifts, in particular, can cause back problems if not done properly. Beginners are advised to practice and develop consistent form before exercising with any weight.

Q. How should I perform a trap deadlift?

A. Stand within the hex bar with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your hips and knees to reach down and grasp the handles. Keep your hips and shoulders back, your chest up, and your chin tucked in. Make sure your back is flat and your core is tight. Straighten your hips and knees as you raise the weight until you’re standing erect. With control, lower the bar back down.

This process takes time to perfect, and as mentioned, there are risks involved if you don’t use the proper form. It’s recommended that you watch others perform the movement first and slowly incorporate the bar and weights into your routine.

Q. What other exercises can I do with a hex bar?

A. While there are two main exercises that can be done with the utmost effectiveness using a hex bar, there are some slight variations you can try. For example, a hex bar can be used to do a shoulder press in which you lift the bar above your head. You can use the bar to do a floor press, too, in which the bar is engaged to essentially perform a push-up.

If you have a weight bench, you can likely incorporate the hex bar with it as well. There are also some slight variations of the deadlift you can perform, but we caution you to understand the movements completely before attempting these exercises.

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