Today I’m going to test drive something here on the blog. Chris and I are cooking up new ideas for a regular blog schedule for 20120 (yep, it’s three weeks away), so I’m going to hit you ladies and gents with a few ideas, take your feedback into account and keep what sticks. Our first pilot episode will be research based.

I’m going to spend the first three days of every work week scouring journals, attacking the internet and calling all my friends that are smarter than I am to find the newest research in strength and conditioning. I’ll do my best to take all of us to the next level of strength and ninjadom. Bam!










What I’ll need from you fine people is feedback. If you are digging on Awesome Research Thursdays, let me know and I’ll keep this train rolling. If not–we can all move on to another dose of Thursday awesomeness. Emails, facebook messages and comments on the blog are all welcome–as are Christmas presents. So, get at me, dog!

Here We Go

Our first installment will be an examination of research that investigates an exercise near and dear to my heart–the deadlift. I’ll be the first to tell you, this is exciting stuff.

Researchers fromthe UK and New Zealand studied the conventional barbell deadlift in comparison to the hex bar (trap bar) deadlift. The purpose was to determine the differences kinetics and kinematics between the two lifts.

What They Did

 Even better than the news that these kind folks decided to study the deadlift is the news that they used powerlifters as their population sample. After testing them on a one rep max in both lifts, the lifters completed trial lifts–pulling with maximal speed–with loads of 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70% and 80% of their one rep max. Vertical ground reaction forces, velocity, power were the main variables studied. Moments and joint angles were studied for each of the major joints involved during a successful deadlift (ankles, knees, hips, lumbar spine). They wanted to find out which joints took stress and which movement allowed a lifter to generate more power.

What They Found

Although this may disappoint some of you barbell afficianados out there, peak power output was found to be significantly higher during the hex bar deadlift. Gasp! Why? Well, it’s probably because they also found the moment at the knee to be much greater for the hex bar deadlift in comparison to the barbell deadlift–meaning that there was more quad involvement during the hex bar deadlift. More muscle mass means more power. The peak moments, however, at the hip, lumbar spine and ankle were significantly higher for the barbell deadlift. In short, this makes the barbell deadlift a better movement for training the posterior chain.

 What about the joint angles during the start of the two lifts? Well, they were different. The joint angles during the hex bar set up were reminiscent of the squat–the torso was more upright and there was less hip flexion. That makes sense, right? There were higher peak moments at the knee during the hex bar deadlift and higher peak moments at the hips during the barbell deadlift.

Why This is Awesome

Studies like this go a long way in improving how we write programs. The hex bar deadlift is biomechanically similar to a squat, and could be used as a viable alternative. Hex bar deadlifts also put less stress on the lumbar spine–making them a great option for trainees with low back issues. They also have greater peak power output, potentially making them a better exercise for athletic development.

This study adds clarity to the hip-dominant versus knee dominant debate that continues to rage around the strength world. Hex bar deads are biomechanically similar to a squat, and as such are knee dominant. Having greater peak moments at the hips and lumbar spine makes the barbell deadlift a hip-dominant movement. With this knowledge it is easier to program the two lifts–just as squats and barbell deadlifts can’t be used interchangeably, neither can hex bar deadlifts and barbell deadlifts.

Does this study show that one movement is better than the other? Nope. It just shows that they are different and can’t be used as a means to accomplish the same end. If you need a squat alternative, use the hex bar. But if you want to develop the posterior chain you need to barbell deadlift. Both are great for developing absolute strength–although more weight can be used during the hex bar deadlift. They are both indubitably awesome.

I hope you enjoyed the test run of Awesome Research Thursdays. Do me a favor and drop a comment on the post, comment on facebook or shoot me an email and let me know if we should keep this party bangin’.

Get Stronger,



Swinton, P., Stewart, A., Agouris, I., Keogh, J., & Lloyd, R. (2011). A biomechanical analysis of straight and. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(7), 2000-2009.



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Todd Bumgardner
M.S./ CSCS/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance/ Ginger
Todd Bumgardner

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Todd Bumgardner
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M.S./ CSCS/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance/ Ginger

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