Learn the Hex-Bar Deadlift to Increase your Swim Strength

Welcome to the final installation of the deadlift progression in the BridgeAthletic Building Blocks series.

Today we will take on the pinnacle of the Deadlift progression – the Hex Bar Deadlift.

We prefer to recommend the Hex Bar / Trap Bar over a regular barbell because it helps to decrease shear forces on the lumbar spine. This allows you to stabilize your shoulders in neutral and promotes proper movement mechanics, especially with taller athletes.

Exercise 5: The Hex-Bar Deadlift


Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes rotated out slightly. Keeping your chest up and hips down, squat down and grab hold of the side handles. With a controlled movement, standup without locking out your knees. Slight pause. Control the movement as you return to the start position. Focus on not crashing the bumper plates into the floor. Repeat for prescribed reps in a controlled tempo.

Bridge Tip: Keep your chest up and hips down, especially as you get tired. Do not start the movement by raising your hips. This puts pressure on your lower-back, making the movement similar to a back extenstion and not a full-body movement.

More Building Blocks:

Be sure to check out the rest of the progression if you have more questions on how to master the squat.

Day 1: Frog Squat

Day 2: Monster Walks

Day 3: KB/DB Goblet Squat

Day 4: DB Deadlift

Or download our e-book to receive an in-depth look at our full August Building Blocks!

Want Feedback?

We’re here to help. We highly encourage you and your athletes to share videos and pictures performing the exercises. Use #BuildBetterAtheltes in order to receive feedback and guidance from one of our elite coaches on the BridgeAthletic Performance Team.

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About BridgeAthletic

BridgeAthletic Logo 3BridgeAthletic works with elite professional, collegiate, and club swimming programs to provide a turnkey solution for dryland training.  Led by Nick Folker, the top swimming strength and conditioning coach in the world, our team builds stroke-specific, custom-optimized dryland programs for each of our clients. The individualized workouts are delivered directly to athletes via our state of the art technology platform and mobile applications. Check Nick and BridgeAthletic out as recently featured in SwimSwam.

About Nick Folker 

Nick Folker, BridgeAthleticNick Folker is the Co-Founder and Director of Elite Performance at BridgeAthletic. Nick’s athletes have won 22 Olympic Medals, 7 team NCAA Championships and over 170 individual and relay NCAA championships. Megan Fischer-Colbrie works as the Sports Science Editor at BridgeAthletic.  Megan was a four-year varsity swimmer at Stanford, where she recently graduated with a degree in Human Biology.

The Championship Series by BridgeAthletic is designed to empower athletes with tips from the pros that will help them reach peak performance come race day.  We will be covering competition-focused topics such as nutrition, recovery, stretching, and mental preparation.

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7 years ago

This is a great exercise, thankfully my gym has the trap bar and I use a lot.

7 years ago

His head is all wrong; What he’s doing here is bad for the neck. You want your neck to align with the spine, not arch up independently and look forward.

Reply to  Nick
7 years ago

The position of the head is irrelevant unless it causes curvature of the thoracic/lumbar spine. If the athlete has enough flexibility to look forward and maintain a straight back throughout the thoracic/lumbar spine then no injury will occur.

Random Observer
Reply to  Swimmer
7 years ago

Position of head is fine. Looking ahead/slightly up during pulling and squatting movements primes the extensor reflex of the body and allows more power, ala Brad Tandy’s extension in his start. It becomes an issue in over-extension of the head when the deep neck flexors are too weak to control head extension/rotation adequately.

Reply to  Random Observer
7 years ago

Head should be in a neutral position, not looking up or looking down. Raising your head lowers your hips, and you want to pop your hips forward (drive from the hips and through the heels). Looking up puts stress on the spinal disks in the neck

Random Observer
Reply to  CSCS
7 years ago

So you can’t rotate your head up 20 degrees without altering the path of your hips? New news to me, let’s hurry and tell all those Olympic weightlifters that they have the first phase of their clean and snatch all wrong. God bless all the Chiropractors that have to fix their necks!

Reply to  CSCS
7 years ago

because a DL and power clean and snatch are all the same thing….pretty sure you have to move your head out of the way when doing a snatch unless you want a bloody nose. http://m.mlb.com/video/?content_id=501526283&topic_id=70087564

When you find a source that says not to keep a neutral spine, let me know.

Reply to  CSCS
7 years ago

Also consider that we are working with swimmers, not olympic weightlifters. The first goal for any decent performance coach is to PREVENT injury, so why even risk it?