The 2016 research compared muscle activation between conventional and hex bar lifts and found that our body type affects the results. Different bodies have different advantages and disadvantages so exercises should be done differently for best results.
If you’re struggling with your deadlifting you might be doing the wrong variation for your body.
Check the following lift variations and think about which you should do:
THE CONVENTIONAL DEADLIFT – best if you’re shorter than 5’6
Because the classic deadlift is a ‘true hinge’ movement (you’re bending and straightening at the hip) you can relieve stress at the lower back by keeping the bar close to the body. Shorter people have less space between the hinge point (hip) and the bar, which means less risk of back pain.
Follow these instructions for the conventional deadlift. You’ll give your hamstrings and backside a great workout.
THE HEX BAR DEADLIFT – best for those over 6’2”
Tall people typically experience more pain in the lower and mid back. This is because using a barbell increases the pressure towards the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings and upper back).
Instead, do the hex bar lift. Because the handles are by your sides the weight is away from your front, which relieves stress on your upper body. Your quads will get more work and you’ll create more power, force and speed.
THE SUMO DEADLIFT – best for lanky arms
If you’ve got arms longer than your legs (check this in the mirror – do your hands pass below your pockets?) then you should do the sumo deadlift. Your long arms make it easier to keep your chest up so you really get to work those lower body muscles and much-neglected hip abductors.
THE RACK PULL – best for lanky legs
If you’ve got legs longer than your arms (check arms again – are your palms above your pockets?) you need to do the rack pull. Your challenge is that your hips are frequently higher than your chest when you start a deadlift from the floor, which isn’t ideal. Instead, load the bar onto a power rack with the pins just below your knee and start your deadlift from here. You will work within your best range of motion and get the best training for your posterior muscles.