Why We Use the Trap Bar

Deadlifts are awesome.  Studies show that they make you 100% more badass. In addition to that, they also have a tremendous carryover into sports and activities of daily living.  They are great for building the glutes and hamstrings and strengthening the back.  Unfortunately, not everyone possesses the ability to walk up to a bar and lift it with solid form and all the correct muscles engaged.  So in order to start pulling on a barbell, its necessary to regress in order to progress.  The Trap Bar is where its at!

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“It’s a Trap”

One of the many awesome lines from Return of the Jedi given to us by Admiral Ackbar.

Ever notice that awkward looking bar in your gym before?  Looks like a hexagon?  Commonly known as a trap bar, hence the above quote.   One of the most common exercises you’ll see done with it is a trap bar deadlift, although you could also do rows with them too.

The Trap Bar is a great “regression” from a straight bar deadlift, but it does not have to necessarily be a regression.  You can load it heavy enough that it packs on muscle and makes you a stronger lifter, but it’s benefit comes from the difference in positioning while performing a deadlift.

Good Teaching Tool

A good hip hinge is hard to come by especially with those who are unfamiliar with the deadlift; or just the movement in general, particularly those that sit all day.  In an untrained individual, the movement turns into a “bend over” hinging from the back, rather than using the powerful hips and glutes.  So regressions are necessary.  Think about what you do when you go to pick something up off the ground.  That’s your hip hinge.  Does it look like this:

 

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Or this:dq

 

Getting into the correct deadlift position using a straight bar can be quite challenging without proper coaching and some corrective work.  This is especially true for those that sit for multiple hours a day, trapping themselves in a posterior pelvic tilt, and likely a poor postural pattern.

Yes, I’m looking at you, mystery reader who’s probably doing exactly the above. Due to the location of the handles on the trap bar, it makes getting into a solid deadlift position a lot easier.  The trap bar allows a more upright position where the knees go forward and the hips can sink, much like a squat.

This position in turn makes it a great…

It’s A Back Saver

If just the word “deadlift” elicits tingles in your back, then the trap bar is for you.  The mechanics of the trap bar deadlift keeps the back in a much “safer” position than a regular deadlift.  This makes it a great tool for primary knee and hip dominant exercises.  Meaning it can replace or be an alternative to squats and deadlifts, especially if you have concern for you back.

And if you’re concerned about your back, guess what?

It’s A Back Strengthener

The great thing about deadlifts is their ability to strengthen your entire posterior chain, meaning all the muscles that you can’t see in the mirror.  This of course, includes your back.  Your back muscles have to fire in order to keep yourself in that upright position.  This is a good thing.  Most of the time, people with back issues have weak erectors (those two muscles on either side of the spine that run the length of your back).

How To

  • Load It
  • Step Inside
  • Squat Down and Grip Handles
  • Brace Abs (like you’re going to get punched), Tense Upper Back
  • Stand Up and Squeeze Your Booty

Takeaway

In short, the Trap Bar Deadlift is an amazing tool to teach you how to deadlift. It will help you build muscle, get you stronger, keep your back safe, and in general make you an all-around badass in the gym.  Seriously, as you pack more plates on the trap bar, people will stop and stare.  You’ll be the envy of all your friends when you start deadlifting some serious weight.

 

 

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