Electromyographic Comparison of Barbell Deadlift, Hex Bar Deadlift, and Hip Thrust Exercises: A Cross-Over Study

J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Mar;32(3):587-593. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001826.


Andersen, V, Fimland, MS, Mo, D-A, Iversen, VM, Vederhus, T, Rockland Hellebø, LR, Nordaune, KI, and Saeterbakken, AH. Electromyographic comparison of barbell deadlift, hex bar deadlift, and hip thrust exercises: a cross-over study. J Strength Cond Res 32(3): 587-593, 2018-The aim of the study was to compare the muscle activation level of the gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, and erector spinae in the hip thrust, barbell deadlift, and hex bar deadlift; each of which are compound resisted hip extension exercises. After 2 familiarization sessions, 13 resistance-trained men performed a 1 repetition maximum in all 3 exercises in 1 session, in randomized and counterbalanced order. The whole ascending movement (concentric phase), as well as its lower and upper parts (whole movement divided in 2), were analyzed. The hip thrust induced greater activation of the gluteus maximus compared with the hex bar deadlift in the whole (16%, p = 0.025) and the upper part (26%, p = 0.015) of the movement. For the whole movement, the biceps femoris was more activated during barbell deadlift compared with both the hex bar deadlift (28%, p < 0.001) and hip thrust (20%, p = 0.005). In the lower part of the movement, the biceps femoris activation was, respectively, 48% and 26% higher for the barbell deadlift (p < 0.001) and hex bar deadlift (p = 0.049) compared with hip thrust. Biceps femoris activation in the upper part of the movement was 39% higher for the barbell deadlift compared with the hex bar deadlift (p = 0.001) and 34% higher for the hip thrust compared with the hex bar deadlift (p = 0.002). No differences were displayed for the erector spinae activation (p = 0.312-0.859). In conclusion, the barbell deadlift was clearly superior in activating the biceps femoris compared with the hex bar deadlift and hip thrust, whereas the hip thrust provided the highest gluteus maximus activation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Buttocks
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Electromyography
  • Hamstring Muscles
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Paraspinal Muscles
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Thigh
  • Young Adult