Upgrade your deadlifts, rows, and more with one simple switch.
Meet the most underutilized strength-training tool. Even when the gym is packed and lifters are waiting for gear, there’s an available hex bar. “People don’t realize there are a lot of exercise options for the tool,” says David Otey, personal training manager at Equinox Sports Club New York’s Upper West Side location. Plus, the hex bar’s unique shape can make moves like deadlifts, shoulder presses, and upright rows more comfortable. “The design lets you use a neutral [turned-in] grip, which mirrors the way you naturally hold your arms,” says Otey. “Depending on the exercise, that position will keep your shoulders or hips at a more optimal angle, alleviating pressure.”
The hex bar can also add much-needed variety to your session. “It forces you to work in different planes of motion, which can improve your results,” says Otey. To test his theory, swap your usual shoulder press and push-up with the hex-bar versions below. “Your hands are usually prone or supine in push-ups, and prone for a shoulder press,” Otey explains. “Doing those exercises with a neutral grip will immediately change your workout and results.”
As transforming as the hex bar may be, resist the temptation to build an entire session around it. As Otey says, “A workout should be like a buffet—don’t eat from one tray the whole time; use a mix of tools.” Try incorporating a few of these exercises to your regular strength-building sessions, following your usual set and rep scheme.
Shoulder Press: Place the hex bar in a rack at shoulder height and position yourself inside the hexagon. Hold a handle with each hand in front of your shoulders and remove the bar from the rack. Stand with feet hip-width apart and extend your arms, pressing the bar straight overhead. Bend your elbows to return to the starting position and repeat.
Push-Up: Place the hex bar on the floor. Get into a push-up position with your hands holding the handles and legs extended behind you, body aligned from head to heels. Bend elbows, lowering chest toward the floor. Extend arms to return to the starting position and repeat.
Deadlift: Squat with feet shoulder-width apart in the center of the hexagon, and hold a handle in each hand with palms facing each other. Stand with arms extended at your sides. Keep back straight as you bend knees and hinge forward from your hips, lowering bar toward the floor. Rise up to the starting position and repeat.
Stiff-Legged Deadlift: Squat with feet hip-width apart in the center of the hexagon, and hold a handle in each hand with palms facing each other. Stand with arms extended at your sides. Keeping back straight and legs extended, bend forward from hips, lowering bar toward the floor. Rise up to the starting position and repeat.
Split Squat: Squat in the center of the hexagon and hold a handle with each hand, palms facing each other. Stand and take a big step back with right foot so feet are a stride’s length apart, rear heel lifted. Keep torso straight as you bend your knees, lowering right knee toward the floor. Rise up to starting position and repeat. Switch sides to complete set.
Bent-Over Row: Stand with feet hip-width apart in the hexagon and hold a handle with each hand, palms facing each other. Bend knees and hinge forward from hips until back is nearly parallel to the floor, arms extended. Bend elbows straight back, raising bar toward your torso. Extend arms to starting position and repeat.