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  1. Steve Long
    May 6, 2011 - 7:57 am

    Great series on one of the best lifts know to man. They should play this on a loop on most chain gym TV’s instead of Jerry Springer and soup operas.

  2. Greg Y.
    May 6, 2011 - 8:52 am

    Nice article Mr. Cressey. At my age (44) this is my deadlift of choice now.

    With my torn biceps brachii repair 6.5 weeks post surgery, it will be a while before I am able to do this exercise again. I am glad, however, to see it posted in a positive light.

  3. Mark C.
    May 6, 2011 - 11:00 am

    Love the hex bar. BTW you can also use it for a good morning exercise. Just drape it across your back and the hand position is very much like using a cambered bar. If you have stiff shoulders or some other need, the hex bar GM gives you a way to work the posterior chain with a bit more comfort.

  4. mike
    May 6, 2011 - 12:09 pm

    Trap bar deads are a great alternative … takes a bit of the pressure of spine …good for boosting squat ### but remeber its a dead lift not a squat…also try lumber jack quate another good alternative to squats…throw in push press at end of squat movement another all body excercise

  5. vivoir
    May 6, 2011 - 1:30 pm

    Thanks for this- I frequently check your blog but never comment… alas this is changing! I LOVE deadlifts. Combined with push-ups, I always feel that I’ve got a good pump and worked my whole body in a way that will transfer to ‘real life’. Rather than ‘vanity lifting’ or exercises that won’t really help me get stronger in day-to-day life. If that makes sense!

    Do you have any good bodyweight subs for a good, heavy deadlift? If you peep at my blog, you’ll see today’s bodyweight/ weights superset mash-up and I’d really, really appreciate some new pairings? I know you’re a busy bee, but I want more people to see new ideas etc. as well as learn myself so it would be fab!

  6. Charles D.
    May 6, 2011 - 2:25 pm

    My wife is trying this program with me and had poor ankle flexion due to hardware in her ankle from an old injury. This means she is unable to squat to parallel or to do deads without arching her back. Which method would you recommend for her to prevent a back injury as the weights increase?

  7. Chris
    May 6, 2011 - 7:06 pm

    Hi Eric…I know the trap bar emphasizes the quads more because of the shift in COG. Would you consider this movement to be hip dominant or quad dominant? I’ve heard that trap bar deadlifts are a suitable alternative for those who can’t squat. What do you think of this?

  8. Eric Cressey
    May 8, 2011 - 6:29 am

    Great point, Mark! Never seen this before. Very cool.

  9. Eric Cressey
    May 8, 2011 - 6:30 am


    Sorry, but there is no substitute for heavy deadlifts – especially with body weight. Hip thrusts or KB swings might replicate the sequencing, but you simply can’t match up to the loading and comprehensive training effect.

  10. Eric Cressey
    May 8, 2011 - 6:31 am

    Charles – I’d elevate the bar on deadlift variations so that she won’t have to go quite as deep to get to the bar in the bottom position.

  11. Eric Cressey
    May 8, 2011 - 6:31 am

    Chris – definitely still hip dominant. If one is feeling it in the quads, they’re doing it incorrectly.

  12. Kris Wolff
    May 10, 2011 - 11:10 am

    Hey Eric! So glad I got a chance to watch you do these as I noticed your head position is truly neutral and I think I was trying to look more straight ahead…I will adjust next week. See ya Tuesday!

  13. Gordon Watts
    May 10, 2011 - 12:46 pm

    @ Eric – Thank you for letting us know that:

    a) Head down; and,
    b) Lack of lifting belt (except when trying for PR)

    are both ‘safe’ — Not many people tell us this.

    Actually, my friend, April Mathis, who lifts at my gym and is presently ranked #1 as the worlds strongest woman in the SHW of RAW makes the good point that NOT having a belt allows you to work your muscles better -and I think you made that same point.

    Intuitively, I ‘knew’ that I needed to NOT wear a lifting belt most of the time (when exercising), but thanks to you and April (experts in the field), I now know it as surety.

    I’ve been told that a good lifter doesn’t need to ‘look up,’ but if I’m reading you right, you seem to say looking up when dead-lifting will result in too much arch — something I did not know previously.

    Sorry 2B long-winded, but you deserved the proper thanks & acknowledgments here.

  14. Matt
    May 30, 2011 - 5:28 am

    Slightly off-topic, I know; but when are we going to see some vids of you heavy squating? You said in Maximum Strength its not your favourite, but…

  15. Eric Cressey
    May 31, 2011 - 7:14 am


    I’ve got some kicking around. Will work ‘em in. In the meantime, not too heavy, but it should get the ball rolling…

  16. Jsy John
    November 14, 2011 - 7:00 am

    I have also found the trap bar quite useful for teaching SLDL’s for the same points above. One point on the deadlift variation, I do find athletes spend a lot of time trying to balance the bar in their hands, especially when it is heavy due to the sagittal nature of the grip. If the athlete can perform a traditional deadlift I would still use that, however the trap bar DL is a good tool in the arsenal.

  17. Steve
    January 2, 2012 - 12:04 pm

    Hi Eric, thanks for all the info. As a guy who coaches 20 guys at a time on a baseball team, is it effective to substitute dumbbells in the dead lift, replicating the weight position of the hex bar?

  18. Ant
    January 31, 2012 - 1:02 pm

    I think im going to swap out straight bar deads for the hex bar My lower back has been in skits. Im spending way to much time reading for lectures.

  19. Tynan
    February 16, 2012 - 7:13 pm

    Steve, I’m not an expert by any stretch, but I’ve looked into your question before. When you deadlift with dumbbells you do get a nicer centre of gravity than with a barbell, but you run into a couple issues. One is that the weight starts very close to the ground, requiring extreme mobility to do the first part of the lift with good form. Platforms would help. Another is that loading becomes a problem once you get to higher weights (do you have many dumbbells that weigh more than 80 pounds?). The last is that there is more danger of dropping a heavy dumbbell on your foot than a hex bar or a standard barbell.

    Ok, that’s what I got. Any experts feel like commenting or adding anything?

  20. Ken
    March 3, 2012 - 11:02 am

    Regarding dumbells for Straight Leg Deadlifts, I have lower back issues, so to be precautionary, I use Single Leg Deadlifts with dumbells. I have even performed on a block for extended range and more challenge balancing. Not an expert, just some ideas.

  21. Alan
    March 3, 2012 - 2:11 pm

    Hard to beat the Hardstyle Kettlebell Deadlift as a beginner teaching tool for conventional deadlift. Placing the horns at or behind the malleolus helps teach proper hip hinging and allows you to feel the critical lat engagement needed for heavy deads. Another benefit is that you learn how to generate compactness and proper pre-tensioning (eliminating leakage) before going heavy. Another way RKC Hardstyle kettlebell techniques will improve your DL PR.

    Alan Heddings, RKC, CK-FMS

  22. Robert
    September 21, 2012 - 5:10 am

    As an older lifter I’ve found that the trap bar works better for me

  23. Rob Jackson
    October 12, 2012 - 12:48 pm

    Great article Eric!!! Always nice to see different progressions of each lift. Any trainers that are in the Kansas City area can get a HEX bar from Fitness First KC and save the shipping cost. Plus as an added benefit if you are a professional trainer make sure to mention it and you may receive a 10% discount. In no way am I associated with the company, just trying to help fellow trainers save where they can. Will run you about $143 without the shipping.

  24. Morgan
    August 14, 2013 - 6:07 am


    Serious question: what is wrong with ‘squatting’ the bar up if one is to use the bar like that as a substitute for a barbell squat? Couldn’t I use both positions, one for my ‘deadlift’ and one for my ‘squat’? (I don’t have means or access to a barbell.)

    Please note, I’m not questioning your advice here. I’m just a novice with a hex bar seeking advice on the best way to lift and program with this bar (technique and frequency)



  25. Eric Cressey
    August 14, 2013 - 7:18 am


    I would just tell you to be careful, as it’s significantly different in terms of shear stress in the bottom position.

  26. Morgan
    August 14, 2013 - 8:05 am

    Thank you for replying Eric. When you say to be careful do you mean the bottom of the more upright ‘squat’ position? Fyi I’m not lifting heavy weights at the moment – I’m a 150lb novice!


  27. Eric Cressey
    August 15, 2013 - 6:35 am

    Yes, Morgan, I’m referring to the bottom position.

  28. Morgan
    August 15, 2013 - 9:58 am

    Thank you for your time and advice Eric. If then I use the trap bar deadlift as my main lower body lift, what might you recommend in terms of a weekly set/rep scheme? Would a 3 x a week 3 sets of 5 (SS style) be too much? I play soccer once a week but other than that have no other athletic demands.

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