What Muscles Does the Hex Bar Deadlift Work?

Woman exercising on the beach

The hex bar, or hex barbell, is a piece of equipment with a hexagonal shape that serves as a variation to a traditional straight barbell. The difference is that the hex bar allows you to use a neutral grip when doing barbell exercises. The hexagonal shape also reduces contact of the barbell with your shins when you lift the bar off the ground during the deadlift. The biomechanics of a hex bar deadlift are slightly different than of a straight barbell deadlift. The same primary muscles are worked during both, but the recruitment of each muscle is a bit different.


The quadriceps, a group of four muscles, functions to extend the knee during the deadlift to straighten the legs. The four muscles that perform that action are the rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis and vastus lateralis. The rectus femoris originates at the ilium, or hip bone. The vastus intermedius, vastus medialis and vastus lateralis originate at the anterior, medial and lateral surface of the femur, or thigh bone, respectively. All four heads of the quadriceps insert at the tibia, or shin bone.

Gluteus Maximus

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle of the buttocks. It originates at the ilium of the hip and sacrum of the spine, and inserts at the femur of the thigh and tibia of the shin. The gluteus maximus acts to extend the hip during the deadlift, to bring the back to the upright position.

Adductor Magnus

Similar to the gluteus maximus, the adductor magnus, specifically the posterior head, acts to extend the hip during the deadlift. The adductor magnus anterior head is also involved during the deadlift. It acts alongside the posterior head to adduct the hip. The two heads of the adductor magnus originate at the pubis and ischium of the hip, and insert at the medial surface of the femur of the thigh.

Erector Spinae

The erector spinae, a group of three muscles, acts as a stabilizing muscle during the deadlift. The iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis make up the erector spinae, and they all act to extend the spine. During the deadlift, these muscles contract isometrically to keep the spine straight. The iliocostalis originates at the sacrum of the spine and inserts at the posterior ribs and cervical vertebrae. The longissimus originates at the lumbar and thoracic vertebrae and inserts at the cervical vertebrae. The spinalis originates at the thoracic vertebrae and inserts at the cervical vertebrae and the skull.