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!

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) benefits and how it affects fat loss

Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Fat Loss

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) benefits and how it affects fat loss
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) benefits

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is one of the few supplements on the market today that advertise fat loss and have legitimate scientific backing to legitimate. CLA is an omega-6 polyunsaturated essential fatty acid aimed at the breakdown of fat in fat cells to free the fatty acids into the blood stream.

Fatty acids successfully break down the fat from the fat cells which will reduce the total amount of fat in your body. Subsequently, the ratio of fat-free to fat mass in your body will go up as well. CLA also has proven qualities that increase fatty acid oxidation from fat stored in the skeletal muscle and fat cells. It essentially starves the fat cell and keeps the fat cells small and from getting any bigger. Fatty acid oxidation is the breakdown of fat cells that are then used for energy for the body. Therefore, the more fat cells that are oxidized, the less fat that is in your body. CLA also reduces resting metabolic rates in the body which helps your body deal with fat more efficiently and keeps the heart healthy!

Dosage of CLA widely varies anywhere from one gram to seven grams a day. Most experts and research sites have different opinions on what dosage works best. It really comes down to individual sensitivity and what works best for you. From anecdotal research and personal experience, I have concluded that the optimal dosing level hovers anywhere from three to five grams daily. Anything lower than three will not be enough to make a discernible difference, and anything over five can be too much over time for certain body types.

In addition, you will need to take the product for four to six weeks to begin to notice any lasting effects as a saturation point has to be reached in the body for the effects to take full effect.

Happy bio-hacking!

Study:

Blankson, H., Fagertun, H., Gudmundsen, O., Stakkestad, J.A., Thom, & E., Wadstein, J., “Conjugated Linoleic Acid Reduces Body Fat Mass in Overweight and Obese Humans.” J. Nutr., 130: 2943-2948, 2000.

Creatine and its beneficial effects on strength, endurance, muscle, and physical health

Creatine

Creatine and its beneficial effects on strength, endurance, muscle, and physical health

Imagine a supplement that lets your muscles absorb more nutrients and water that in turn increase the ATP, often referred to as the molecular unit of currency, of the muscle, so you have more energy and power during your workout? Well, you have found it. Creatine.

Creatine is the single most important supplement for young athletes not banned by the NCAA can take to increase athletic or resistance training performance. For older, more experienced athletes and lifters, creatine is likely a staple of their diet already. There are now hundreds upon hundreds of longitudinal scientific studies that also show how creatine safely interacts with your body on a molecular level.

Creatine has many pros that has lead many researchers to call it the most researched combination of efficiency and safety on the supplementation market. Researchers have found the your muscles are able to consistently produce five to ten percent more efficiently with the use of creatine. The price of creatine supplements are cheap and affordable for a large range of athletes. Creatine volumizes  your muscles and has good body recomposition qualities i.e. increased muscle and body tone. Your endurance during workouts also is increased as your ATP is replenished more effectively and faster.

Creatine’s only side effect that can come about from creatine supplementation is dry mouth due to dehydration. Creatine forces more water and nutrients into your cells to produce more muscle energy, but that also means it takes water away from other parts of your body, which can strain your liver over time. This concern can be easily fixed by drinking more water throughout the day. For the average human, drinking five to six water bottles worth of water a day should prevent any effects that come with dehydration. For athletes and lifters, I would recommend seven to eight full glasses of water for optimal hydration.

Dosage of creatine is usually between 3 and 5 grams a day. Creatine monohydrate is the most popular supplement on the market, but other creatine forms such as Kre-Alkalyn, Nitrate, and Citrate are other popular choices on the market as well. Monohydrate is the most effective supplement for absorption and efficiency hence its popularity. Kre-Alkalyn’s is less effective but is engineered around no bloating. Nitrate is advertised as being easier on the stomach hence more drinkable, but there’s no conclusive evidence that it is better than monohydrate. Citrate, bound to citric acid, is more water soluble than monohydrate, but its efficiency is the same. My favorite creatine to use is listed below as it has an ample amount of servings but also a competitive price. Whichever creatine that you pick is entirely up to you and your choice and which one you feel works the best with your body’s chemistry.

Optimum Nutrition Creatine Powder, Unflavored, 600g

Beta alanine building blocks of protein and important factor in muscle growth, regeneration, and physical and mental ability

Beta Alanine

Beta alanine building blocks of protein and important factor in muscle growth, regeneration, and physical and mental ability

Building blocks of protein. Sounds good right? You definitely want to add those to a diet aimed at building muscle. Start with beta-alanine. Although a non-essential amino acid, capable of being produced and synthesized by the body, supplementing beta-alanine in your diet directly results in increase athletic performance and enhanced muscle growth.

Increasing levels of beta-alanine in your body through supplementation directly increases the peptide, carnosine. That increase is especially important, because higher levels of carnosine directly buffer lactic acid production during weight lifting and improve muscle contraction. For less experienced lifters, that means that your muscles will experience less stress as you lift weights while increasing the output that your muscles produce. Win-win.

You can count on a couple things to happen as you begin to supplement beta-alanine into your diet. First, muscle mass will be increased. Second, your anaerobic endurance (i.e. lifting/resistance training) will go up. And third, you will boost your explosive muscle strength and power output. Granted, none of this occurs without hard work, but with hard work and a clean diet, beta alanine can help you take that next step.

Beta-alanine is combined extremely well with supplementation of creatine, a topic my next article will be about. The combined effect is a drastic increase in lean muscle production.

Beta-alanine by itself should be dosage anywhere from 3.2 to 6.4 grams a day to achieve a lean muscle growth effect. Most supplements online or at GNC/Vitamin Shoppe are taken orally via pills that usually have eight hundred milligrams a pill. That requires taking four to eight pills a day, evenly spaced out. For example, I take two eight-hundred milligram pills in the morning at 8 AM and two more in the evening at 8 PM. Combined its two doses of 1.6 grams each spaced out by twelve hours equal 3.2 grams. I would recommend starting there and then going up as you feel that you need to.

Side effects for this product is next to zero. I have not had experienced any personally, nor have I read anything about any negative side effects in the literature. There have been studies on animals that show that beta-alanine use has decreased taurine uptake in the brain which degrades brain tissue and can cause retina degradation, but these studies are forty weeks long and use fifty to a hundred times that amount humans would use. For that reason, I would not validate these studies as cause of worry. In every short-term human trial, zero side effects have been found.

I have found beta-alanine to be extremely helpful in helping me increase explosiveness in my workouts and ability to get more volume in my workouts as well, and I think that you will as well. Both of which have lead to increase strength gains, which translates onto the athletic field, as well as aesthetic definition.