Hex Plates vs Round Plates [Avoid Them for Compound Lifts]

Hex plates are inferior to round plates. You should avoid them because they make any exercise that involves lifting weight off the ground and setting it back down (such as deadlifts, barbell rows, and barbell hack squats) difficult, uncomfortable, and even dangerous. Because the weight plates often rotate slightly when lifting the loaded barbell off the ground, you often set the weight back down on one of the “points” of the hex plate. This causes the bar to roll slightly forward or backward until the weight rests on the flat face of the hex plate. This can cause you to twist out of proper form as you set the weight down, resulting in injury. If possible, use round plates to perform all lifts that start and end on the ground.

Hex plates vs round plates

What is a Hex Plate?

A hex plate is a weight plate designed to be loaded onto a barbell. Instead of a round, “donut” shape, this type of plate has an angular shape with 12 flat sides. Hex plates may be made of iron, rubber-encased iron, or composite material.

  • Hex plates are weight plates with 12 flat sides. Think of a Stop sign with a few extra angles.
  • Hex plates may be made of metal or rubber.
  • Hex plates are typically equipped with cutouts that can be used as handles.

Another defining feature of the hex plate is the handles. A cutout on either side of the plate serves as a handle for unloading the plate from a bar or machine.

Why Should You Avoid Hex Plates?

Hex plates disrupt proper form for many essential barbell lifts. Any exercise that requires you to lift a barbell from the floor at the beginning of a rep and set the barbell back down at the end of a rep is frustrating and dangerous to perform with hex plates. This includes deadlifts. However, it also applies to lifts such as barbell rows, trap bar deadlifts, and barbell hack squats.

  • Hex plates ruin the proper form of lifts that start and end with the barbell on the ground.
  • Deadlifts, hack squats, barbell rows, and trap bar deadlifts are all inhibited by non-round plates.
  • Hex plates disrupt form by rolling when you set the bar down at the end of a rep.
  • If a bar loaded with hex plates rolls, you have to reset your position to perform the next rep properly.

Hex plates disrupt your form because they tend to roll the barbell forward or back when you set the loaded barbell down. As you lift the barbell off the floor, one or more of the plates may rotate slightly. This causes a pointed angle of the plate to face the floor. When you set the bar back down on the point, gravity encourages the bar to roll so that the plate can sit on one of its flat faces. This can cause the bar to roll away from you or toward you. Or, the bar may twist as one end rolls forward and the other rolls back. No matter what, you’ll be pulled out of position and need to reset before your next rep.

How Do Hex Plates Cause Lifting Injuries?

Let’s examine the hex plate in relation to one exercise: the deadlift.

Proper deadlift form requires you to keep the barbell close to the front of your legs as you lift the bar and set it back down. If the bar moves too far from your body, it can put dangerous stress on your lower back. Because a bar loaded with hex plates tends to roll as you set it down, the bar may roll forward at the tail end of the rep, pulling you into a position that puts strain on your lower back.

  • Performing compound lifts requires proper form and weight placement to prevent injury.
  • If a bar loaded with hex plates rolls as you set it down, it can pull or twist you out of proper form, increasing injury risk.
  • Attempting to lift a hex plate that has rolled without first resetting can cause improper form and result in injury.

Lifting a hex-plate-loaded bar that has rolled requires you to re-set your feet. If you aren’t careful and try to lift a slightly cocked bar, you may put an uneven strain on your muscles and cause injury. This makes lifting with hex plates difficult and dangerous. The bar may roll away from you, roll back and scrape your shins, or one end may roll away while the other rolls closer. This “opposite roll” forces you to twist your spine, which is a recipe for injury when lifting heavy weights.

What is the Point of Hex Plates?

If hex plates are so bad, why do gyms use them? Although some online conspiracy theorists claim that gyms purposefully stock only hex plates to discourage loud, intimidating lifts, such as the deadlift, the answer is far simpler. Hex plates are easier to load onto weight machines than standard plates. The handles on hex plates make putting weight on smith machines, racked barbells, and leg press machines much easier.

  • Gyms stock hex plates because the handles make them easier to load onto weight machines and racked barbells.
  • In most standard gyms, more patrons use weight machines compared to the number of gym members who perform compound lifts.

Because most gymgoers are more likely to use weight machines or perform exercises that start with a racked barbell, gyms prioritize equipment that makes life easier for the bulk of their clients. Hex plates are terrible for the minority of clients who perform deadlifts and other compound lifts, but benefit the average gym member. So, some gyms stock only hex plates, with no circular plates.

Why are Round Plates Better than Hex Plates?

Round plates don’t roll unexpectedly when you set a weighted barbell on the ground between reps. Although it may seem like round plates are more likely to roll than hex plates, the opposite is true. When you use proper form and lift on a flat surface, a barbell loaded with round Olympic plates will stay exactly where you set it.

  • Round plates are much less likely to cause the barbell to roll when you set the bar down between reps.
  • It is much easier to maintain proper form when performing deadlifts and similar exercises with round plates.
  • Your injury risk is much lower when using a barbell loaded with round plates for compound lifts.

Because they don’t roll violently and unexpectedly like hex plates, round plates allow you to maintain proper form throughout all lifts. This greatly reduces injury risk and eliminates the need to reset your feet or the bar between reps. You’ll be able to focus on your workout, not controlling and correcting the barbell.

Can You Deadlift with Hex Plates?

It is possible to deadlift with hex plates. However, you must provide extra attention to maintain safe, proper form. Set the bar down carefully and prepare for any roll that may occur due to the hex plates. Then, before your next rep, reset the bar or your feet to ensure you are deadlifting with proper form.

  • You can deadlift with hex plates if you pay extra attention to maintaining form.
  • Prepare yourself for bar roll when you set the weight down.
  • Reset the bar or your stance after each rep so you can perform each lift with good form.
  • When possible, use round standard plates for deadlifts.

If your gym has both hex plates and round plates, use round plates whenever possible. They will make lifting safer and allow you to complete sets without constantly resetting to maintain good form.

What are the Best Plates for Weightlifting?

Round plates are the best choice for strength training and weight lifting. They can be used for all lifts and loaded onto machines when necessary They’re more versatile and safe than hex plates.

  • Round plates are better for weightlifting than hex plates.
  • Round plates allow proper form for all lifts and can be loaded onto machines.
  • Hex plates are best to use with machines or lifts where the barbell does not touch the floor.
  • Take extra safety precautions when performing deadlifts and similar exercises with non-round plates.

Hex plates are fine if you’re loading up a leg press machine or doing bench press, but they require extra time and attention when performing deadlifts and other “from-the-floor” exercises. So, if you’re thinking of buying plates for your home gym, go for round plates. Now, you just need to determine whether you want iron plates or bumper plates.

Why You Should Never Use Hex Plates

Hex plates are one of the more frustrating and limiting pieces of equipment in the gym. You should avoid them because:

  • Hex plates often cause a loaded barbell to roll violently forward or backward when you set it down on the floor.
  • This tendency to roll pulls you out of proper form during deadlifts, rows, hack squats, and trap bar deadlifts.
  • The tendency for hex plates to roll may increase injury risk during “from-the-floor” lifts.
  • To maintain proper form when lifting from the floor with hex plates, you will have to carefully reset after the barbell rolls.
  • Round plates do not roll violently or unexpectedly.
  • Standard weight plates (round) help maintain proper form and reduce injury risk.

If you intend to perform compound lifts, search for a gym that stocks round, traditional plates. You’ll save yourself from frustration, injury, and scraped shins.

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