Is the "Super Deadlift Bar" weight bar a worthwhile training equipment investment or are you better off with a regular straight bar your deadlifts?
The Barbell Deadlift is one of the most productive, total-body exercises a person can do. But many people, due to biomechanical, structural or sometimes even motivational reasons, simply find the exercise too awkward or just too hard or painful to perform properly. This takes an extremely valuable exercise out of a person's training repertoire.
The "Super Deadlift Bar" aims to change that. The question we're asking here today is: "does it perform when put to the test?"
The Problem The Super Deadlift Bar Claims to Solve:
Let's examine the mechanics of the deadlift and how the "Super Deadlift Bar" works. This bar is essentially the same thing as a trap bar or hex bar.
When you do a regular barbell deadlift, in order to minimize torque on the lower back, you need to keep the bar as close in line to your center of gravity as possible (this is the point in your body where the combined weights of all your parts are balanced). For example, when you're standing, your center of gravity is (depending on how your bodyweight is distributed and what your posture is like) normally just slightly forward of the ankle joint.
When the weight you're deadlifting is outside your center of gravity, it exerts torque on the lower back during the movement. Reducing this torque involves keeping the bar as close to your shins as possible during the first half of the movement until the bar clears your knees.
Unfortunately, keeping the bar close to your shins can also mean having to drag the bar up your shins when using very heavy weight. Speaking from personal experience, I've walked away from numerous deadlift sessions with my shins scraped and bleeding (even under sweat pants).
No matter how close you keep the bar to your shins, however, you'll never get it close enough to fully reduce the torque on the lower back.
How the "Super Deadlift Bar" Works:
The "Super Deadlift Bar" addresses this problem by moving the bar out away from your shins but at the same time moving the center of mass of the bar back in line with your center of gravity. This is accomplished with a bent-bar design that opens up the area right in the center of the bar to allow your knees free movement.
The bend in the bar allows you to basically stand directly inside the bar, placing the center of mass of the bar directly in line with your center of gravity.
This configuration allows you to pull the bar directly up rather than having to work around your knees and shins as you pull the bar up. This purportedly eliminates a significant amount of torque on the lower back during the movement as the bar is able to stay in line with your center of gravity all the way up.
Also, pulling the bar straight up rather than having to go around your knees may eliminate a significant loss of upwards force compared to the conventional deadlift. Practically speaking, it means you should be able to lift more weight.
Does The Super Deadlift Bar Actually Work?
Yes. In practical testing, I've found that trainers using the "Super Deadlift Bar" were better able to perform the deadlift exercise and maintain far better lower back position as they performed the movement.
The result: using this bar allowed the tester to use heavier weights with far less lower-back discomfort. The lifter was better able to maintain the lordotic (lower back) curvature of the spine during the lift, increasing the safety of the exercise. It's important to maintain this curve during lifting in order to allow the muscles of the lower back to properly stabilize the spinal column.
A very nice added benefit of the bar is that the neutral positioning of the handles (palms facing in) completely eliminated the tendency of the bar to roll as it's lifted. This problem in the regular barbell deadlift is normally addressed by using a mixed grip (one hand over, one hand under). The technique, however, can lead to uneven torque on the shoulders and the lower back during the movement as well as rotation of the bar as you lift it.
Gripping with a neutral grip (palms facing into your body) eliminates rolling and unbalanced loads on the skeleton and muscles.
One thing of note about the grip on this bar, however, is that you must be careful of where you place your hands on the handles. If you grip the handles dead center, the bar will have a tendency to tip backward (this is due to the anatomy of the human hand). In order to work around this, all you need to do is set your hands back a little on the handles.
Here's a video of me using the bar to perform high-rep deadlifts (315 lbs x 30 reps):
Thumbs up! The "Super Deadlift Bar" is very effective for the purpose for which it was designed and I highly recommend it if you are interested in increasing your lower back and total body strength through deadlifting. The bar is also very effective for performing shrugs, lunges and bent-over rows as well.
It's also less expensive than any other trap bar option I've found, making it a good option for the home gym lifter.
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