Starting Strength Weekly Report

October 16, 2017

  • Bodyfat, Health, and Longevity – Registered Dietitian and Starting Strength Coach Robert Santana explores research on fat cells and the effect of weight loss vs strength training on health.
Training Log
  • Not to be confused with the stiff-legged deadlift, the Romanian Deadlift starts at the top and uses a stretch reflex. Mark Rippetoe shows how to do it.
Starting Strength Channel
  • Mark Rippetoe reads his article on how to build a home gym – equipment you need, what to avoid, and where to get it.
From the Coaches

In the Trenches

dallas rowing club juniors
Members of the Dallas Rowing Club Juniors pose with the rack donated by Rip and WFAC. The Juniors have incorporated regularly scheduled strength training this season with squats, presses, and deadlifts, to make them more competitive on the water. [photo courtesy of Pete Troupos]

Best of the Week

Hex Bar

The SS website featured an excellent article by you about deadlift mechanics.

I would really appreciate a similar article about the deadlift vs hex (or trap) bar deadlift.

From my limited experience and limited intelligence, it would seem that the hex bar is superior to the straight bar in several areas.

It doesn't scrape your shins, there's not an issue with having to use an alternate grip, a person can typically deadlift more weight with the hex bar than the straight bar, and finally - the bar can follow a straighter, more vertical path, since the lifters body isn't in the way.

In the SS book, you do suggest alternate methods of performing various lifts, for people with mobility issues. And you also suggest different bars for those same issues.

If the hex bar is superior to the straight bar, it deserves to be considered by SS coaches. And if it's not – those of us that subscribe to SS methods ought to know why – and you can probably articulate those reasons better than anyone.

Mark Rippetoe

The Hex (trap) bar is not superior to the barbell in any way.

  1. Sorry about your shins.
  2. The alternate grip problem is addressed with the use of the hook grip, or straps for non-competitors at work-set weights.
  3. That a person can "deadlift" more using this device is both undemonstrated and irrelevant. There are ways of pulling more weight than a correct deadlift permits, i.e. rack pulls, but that doesn't make them superior to the deadlift.
  4. If you think the lifter's body is "in the way" during a deadlift, you don't know how to deadlift. The instructions are here: Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training
  5. If anything, the trap-bar "deadlift" more closely resembles squat mechanics than pulling mechanics, with a more vertical back angle and the grip-strength limitation imposed on it. We're already squatting, right?
  6. What other bars have I suggested the use of for primary exercises anywhere in print?
  7. But the primary problem is this: what is the lockout position of a trap-bar "deadlift" vs. the lockout position of a deadlift? Think about this carefully.

This speaks to a larger issue about how the hex bar is perceived as a barbell deadlift equivalent because the lifter is picking weight off the ground from a dead stop.

  1. My shins appreciate your concern
  2. Agreed
  3. There's a website where lifters can post their lifts. There are over 2 million lifts reported for the deadlift, and 15,000 for the hex bar deadlift. At every bodyweight, in both male and female categories, the hex bar lifts are heavier than the standard deadlift. It's true, many people could be doing the deadlift incorrectly, but I doubt that people have performed over 2 million of them incorrectly.
  4. No argument with you
  5. A trap bar deadlift can be performed in a variety of ways, either keeping the hips higher, like a deadlift, or lowering the hips and using more quads.
  6. Page 230 of PP (3rd edition)... "The Football Bar/ aka The Swiss Bar has a variety of grips built into the shaft that allow a wide variety of hand positions. The Swiss Bar is an extremely valuable piece of equipment for any facility that trains older populations."
  7. Couldn't the lock out position be coached? The bottom of the squat is something that can be coached – it's not a function of the bar.

I'm 50 years young, so your praise of the Swiss Bar is extremely pertinent, and I'm not sure why a similar view can't be adopted for the Hex Bar. I get that there are differences between the deadlift and the hex bar deadlift. I'm not sure that those differences warrant it being ignored or maligned. Wouldn't it make sense to explain how to use it correctly – as a potential alternative to the straight bar deadlift, especially for older lifters?

Mark Rippetoe

Since the publication of that version, I have had more experience with the football bar, and it is a dangerous and silly device, completely unstable in the lockout position, just like the trap bar. I have posted about this before. And you have completely missed the point about the lockout position at the top of the pull: in a deadlift, where is the bar at lockout? Against your thighs, locked in a stable position by your upper body mass cantilevered behind the mass of the bar. The trap bar is floating around at the ends of your arms, unstable, just waiting to fuck up your lumbar spine, especially for older lifters. And the fact that you doubt that 2 million deadlifts cannot have been performed incorrectly is testament to your inexperience –  2 million deadlifts will be performed incorrectly within the next hour. These facts coupled with the unnecessary expense of the equipment make the trap bar deadlift not only completely unnecessary, but undesirable for anybody except equipment salesmen.

Andy Baker

The issue with Bench Presses is that many older lifts cannot perform them at all without significant problems with their shoulders that outweigh the benefit of trying to force the issue. Sometimes a narrower neutral grip can allow for a bench press to be performed and the Swiss Bar is easier to progress than DBs.

The Deadlift can be taught to just about anyone and for some older lifters that struggle mightily with getting their back into extension a slight elevation of the barbell using mats, wood blocks, or a low pin setting in the rack can usually fix the issue.

As Rip said, there are benefits to Barbell Deadlifts that you cannot replicate with variations of the movement. The Hex Bar is like a partial squat and the fact you can load it heavier doesn't necessarily make it better. Most of us can also Leg Press more than we can squat but it doesn't make it a better lift.

Best of the Forum

RDL Programming

The Deadlift is my weakest lift. and I’ve gotten several helpful pieces of advice here at SS, one of which was to use RDLs as assistance. It really helped, but there were a couple of opinions about rep schemes and I was curious to get yours. I’ve started to add an extra pull for every session and its something like this so far.

  • Mon - RDLs, pullups/chins x 3 to failure, or DB rows for 2x8. Usually all I can manage.
  • Weds - Cleans 5x3
  • Fri – Deadlift, cable rows.

My deadlift goal is 405 for summer.  I’m at 355 now. 3 weeks back in from a couple months off. 44yrs, 195lbs. Do you like RDLs for higher or lower reps when done as assistance? Other advice?

Andy Baker

Actually both. A nice way to use them is to pull a deadlift for a heavy single, then back off with a heavy set of 5 on an SLDL/RDL and then another back off of 10 of an SLDL/RDL.

Starting Strength Weekly Report

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