We created HAUS No3, our boutique personal training studio in Bangkok, Thailand, to be a place where we can narrow in on the details of what people really need by offering a custom designed training experience.
Our speciality barbells help us do just that, create individualized training programs for our guests that are looking to get stronger while being pain free.
Although we already have the best straight barbells in the world from ELEIKO - straight bars can sometimes be very unforgiving, especially when it comes to injury history and common movement restrictions of the general population.
The design and shape of straight barbells follow regulations from either powerlifting or weightlifting associations and are therefore simply a tool for training and competition in barbell sports.
Before continuing, let us just be clear that we are not throwing the traditional, straight barbell under the bus. We use every day for those who have the prerequisites (mobility, skill and movement ability) to handle it well.
Without further adieu, here are the benefits of our speciality bars;
Also referred to as the trap bar, the hex bar gets its name from the hexagon shape of the bar frame. It’s a great tool for those who want to build lower body strength without the direct spinal loading that you get from e.g. back squats (with the bar resting on your neck, compressing the spine). The design of the bar allows the user to stand and position his/her own body’s center of mass inline with the weight of the bar itself. This means the joints can align comfortably for a vertical line of pull with a comfortable position and degree of flexion and extension of the ankle, knee, hip and back.
The handles can also be grasped in a neutral grip, making it very shoulder and posture friendly (easier to retract scapula and avoid forward rounded shoulders). Often the hex bar has a lower and higher handle option that can be swapped by simply flipping the bar around. This helps for those who are having difficulties in reaching the bar while maintaining a neutral back (often due to ankle or hip mobility limitations) or if you want to train for leg power and strength in shorter ranges of motion.
In terms of learning how to use the hex bar, the learning curve is very steep, making it relatively low skill. This means it’s usually a lot easier to coach (a great benefit when doing semi-private or group training) and teach the hex bar lift compared to squat variations and deadlifts using a straight barbell. Why? Because you don’t have to accommodate and move your body around the barbell, especially when it comes to the deadlift. Instead, by using the hex bar you can follow what feels like a more natural movement pattern and stand straight up.
The potential downside of the hex bar lift compared to the traditional deadlift is that it can yield a lower effect in training the hip extensors of hamstrings and glutes (posterior chain), although this depends heavily on the movement pattern of the lifter (high hip, vertical shin, ankle flexion, etc).
In most occasions the hex bar is taught fast and can therefore be loaded with more weight, although that’s not always a good thing or the main goal.
Due to the more knee dominant squat pattern and the load being lifted by holding with the hands, the hex bar lift can be considered a hybrid of the barbell squat and deadlift. Again, by altering the movement pattern, the hex bar lift can still elicit a great deal of posterior chain training (hamstrings and glutes).
In summary, we really like the hex bar as a training tool at HAUS No3. It’s easy to coach and learn, it’s shaped ergonomically and somewhat versatile, it can be loaded relatively safe and it makes people strong, period.
The axle bar - also called "fat bar" - is thicker than a traditional, straight barbell. The circumference is roughly 2x the size and therefore making it more challenging to grip the bar. This is the main reason why the axle bar is a popular training tool, especially within strongman circles since it's got a reputation to train the grip more effectively.
Our favourite use for the axle bar is for accessory work; such as overhead carries. Due to the big circumference and larger surface area compared to a traditional barbell, we also use it a lot for hip thrusts and landmine pressing.
Besides the thickness of the bar itself, one major difference between an axle bar and regular barbell is that the sleeves are fixed on fat bars. In other words, they lack bearings so they don't spin with the weight plates, making many dynamic lifts different using the axle bar. However, you can still do a (somewhat funny looking) variation of a clean and jerk, called the continental clean.
We wouldn't say that the fat bar is superior to traditional barbells in pressing or pulling movements. Since i's harder to grip the fat bar you will lose some muscular tightness and your limiting factor to perform the lift will often become your grip strength. Not bad if you only want to train your grip but not great if you are looking to stress other, larger muscle groups. However, we still believe it can be a good variation to cycle in your training program.
The safety bar can he used as an option for back squats. The bar placement and loading is similar to a traditional back squat with a straight barbell.
The handles of the safety bar allows for easier access to hold on without having to reach backwards, making it a great tool for those who have shoulder mobility restrictions and/or issues with the elbows or wrists.
However, the fact that the shoulders and upper back don’t need to grasp the bar behind the neck also means that it’s more challenging to achieve and maintain upper back tightness and extension during the squat, leading to less overall core and torso stability. Therefore, the loads when squatting with the safety bar is usually only 80-90% of the weight used during back squats with the straight barbell. This can of course be both a good or a bad thing, depending on your purpose of training.
If you are like most people and like to benchpress, the multigrip bar might very well be your shoulders new best friend. This is the main use and benefit for the multigrip bar (you can of course also use it for floor press, overhead pressing variations and curls).