How correct hex bar form can impact strength and lower back pressure and stress

The Hex-Bar Deadlift

How correct hex bar form can impact strength and lower back pressure and stress
How correct hex bar form can impact strength and lower back pressure and stress

What is the hex bar and what purpose does it serve to every-day gym go-ers? First, let’s give some context to why it serves any purpose at all.

Everyone knows the regular straight-bar deadlift. You have seen huge weightlifters walk up to the straight-bar with 400 pounds on the sides, bend down, and pull up while also holding good form. For experienced bodybuilders with tons of practice, this is usually not a problem. But what some lifters do not understand is that unless you are efficiently stretching before, after and using textbook deadlift technique (hint: many typical lifters you see at the gym, and especially younger ones, are not), this exercise can put an excessive magnitude of stress into your back’s joints, ligaments, and muscles which over time causes damage.

So, one day in the early 1980’s some of the top bodybuilders wanted to find a more efficient way to get the results of the deadlift without the pain and damage. Enter the hex-bar deadlift. Once invented for bulking up traps, the hex-bar has found new life in lifting circles. Even for more experienced lifters, this has transitioned into the go-to deadlift exercise for many reasons.

First, it reduces lower back stress. Looking at the picture above, the weight is placed directly over the hips and the back is straight with the head looking up. This is the optimal loading position for the back. Relative to the straight-bar deadlift, which shifts the weight forward and ramps up the compressive forces on the lower back, this exercise is much better suited for the human body and its functionality.

Second, the weight is distributed more evenly around the body allowing your body to more efficiently uses its muscles. A research study cited in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (you can see more details on it by clicking here)found that lifters could deadlift fifty more pounds on average using the hex-bar compared to the straight-bar. For those lifters who care about how much weight you can put up, this should be an immediate incentive to implement this into your leg routine.

Third, non-athletes or less-experienced gym go-ers can easily add this to their routine without any worry of a learning curve. The motion is simple, as shown below. Simply bend down and pull straight up while keeping your abdominal muscle tight. This is especially helpful for busy professionals and adults, as this exercise hits all major muscles groups in the lower body including abdominal muscles. This finding is expounded upon in a major comparative medical study that you can read here.

This means that the hex-bar deadlift could take the place of a variety of smaller lower-body exercises taking up excess time. As with any new exercise, start low and increase weight only when you feel comfortable.

Correct hex-bar form can impact your health and significantly reduce back pressure and stress.
Correct hex-bar form.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you learned a new thing or two about lifting. Feel free to leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts or any questions/comments you might have!

Check back early next week for another article keeping you up to date with the health and fitness world!

L-Theanine

l-theanine as a physical and mental health supplement

Nootropic tendencies. Stimulating psychoactive properties. Enhanced brain cognition. 100% legal. Sounds inviting, doesn’t it? That is because it is. L-theanine is one of the basic foundational pieces of my supplemental routine. Let me preface this article by stressing that L-theanine is not a miracle supplement. However L-theanine gives me a relaxed but focused outlook to my day.

So how does L-theanine work? The mechanism of action is relatively simple which is why theanine is widely regarded as a safe supplement. L-theanine directly acts on the brain’s alpha waves instantaneously after crossing the brain barrier. More on that later. On a more molecular level, by blocking excess production of “excitatory” neurotransmitters (i.e. dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine) and stimulating “inhibitory” neurotransmitter production (i.e. serotonin and GABA), L-theanine helps the brain achieve a more desirable medium between the two. Serotonin and GABA help to balance mood and assist the mind to more easily deal with stress. Blocking excess levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine prevents the brain from experiencing overexcitement which actually makes you less focused.

So, what does L-theanine do for me? The initial onset occurs within the hour and methodically increases to the peak four to six hours after dosing. The onset will be subtle, almost like a placebo effect at first. As time elapses after the initial dosage, I experience a clearer mental psyche, both more awake and relaxed. Studies like this have scientifically proved its efficacy doing so. This is largely the reason that L-theanine is regarded as one of nature’s most efficient stress managers and nature’s very own anxiolytic (anti-anxiety agent). Like the methodical accumulation to the peak, the elimination of the compound is equally methodical with traceable amounts present in the brain up to 24 hours after ingesting the supplement. Comedowns are typically equally as subtle as the initial onset, so I do not worry about crashing. Due to the day-long half-life, studies have shown that continued L-theanine supplementation will keep the body in a continual relaxed state until supplementation stops.

Now, let us go back to alpha wave production. Alpha waves are responsible for beloved human feelings such as relaxation, focus, creativity, and content. Have you ever been doing something and been super productive but relaxed at the same time? Well, those feeling came from your brain’s production of alpha waves. Those feelings you experience are simply the discernable outcome from that production. L-theanine was once thought to be the driver behind increased attention span and increased mental processes, but instead it stimulates production of these alpha waves which then give users those desired effects. This was recently proved in research by neuronal scientists here.

Now for more health conscious folks, L-theanine also is shown to molecularly protect neurons in the brain and slow down, and even reverse!, tumor growth in bones. If interested, click here for more a more in depth breakdown of those mechanisms.

For those who are not interested in the details and simply want to know how exactly L-theanine will impact their lives, below is a summary of its main benefits:
1. Anti-anxiety agent
2. Clearer, more focused mental state
3. More relaxed, creative outlook on life
4. Added protection to neurotransmitters in the brain

One of my favorite L-theanine products is Suntheanine L-Theanine. The product itself has sixty capsules (i.e. two months worth) with 200 mg of high quality product in each capsule. You can find out more below!

Suntheanine® L-Theanine 200mg (Double-Strength) in Cold-Pressed Organic Coconut Oil; Non-GMO & Gluten Free – 60 Liquid Softgel, Made in USA

Bonus Tip:
Sometimes I want to pursue an extra kick, and I add in caffeine to my diet around the same time I dose L-theanine. Caffeine and L-theanine are synergistic to one another, as both enhance the effects of the other. The result is a more heightened, clear state of mind that is both relaxed and alert. Synergistic dosing is entirely up to subjective debate, but I usually take 100 mg’s of caffeine (~1 cup of coffee) and 200 mg’s of L-theanine and adjust from there.

If I do not take L-theanine with a cup of coffee, my go-to supplement is below.

L-Theanine 200mg, Caffeine 100mg – 90 Count | Taken for Better Focus, Energy, Mood & Wakefulness | Nootropic Stack

Next week I have an article coming out about another exciting biohacking supplement that will permanently raise your cognitive baseline levels. Stay tuned for the release!