You know that weird diamond shape contraption of a barbell, the one that sits in the corner of they gym and rarely gets used? It’s called the Trap Bar, it comes in several hexagonal forms and it may be the most beneficial iteration of any major Powerlifting exercise. Kinesiologists and professional strength coaches agree the Deadlift produces significant gains in lower body strength and overall mass which have corollary benefits to many other strength training exercises like squats, leg presses and even crunches.
Trap Bar Deadlift – Less Stress & More
The Deadlift is a composite lift involving compound muscle synergies from every part of the body, all interacting with the vertebral column (the center pillar of the body) to stabilize and power the body through the exercise. This creates a large amount of stress on the lumbar support system which can lead to spinal compression and other injury. In fact, the Trap Bar Deadlift was invented in 1985 by a Powerlifter named Al Gerard who needed a workout around to train through this very same problem that was causing him lower back pains.
Along with answering the problem of spinal and lower back stress, the Trap Bar Deadlift is also an excellent way to modify and improve your deadlift routine by changing the flexion points and angles in the lift to create a lever that’s similar to a squat. This allows for maximum power in the lift as the athlete is now moving the same weight over greater range at a higher velocity. In this respect, the Trap Bar Deadlift produces benefits similar to a traditional Back Squat or Power Clean but in the tighter range and confines found in a deadlift.
Proper Trap Bar Deadlift Form & Technique
Trap Bar Deadlifts are a great exercise for those who haven’t yet braved the world of deadlifting. As with all the exercises we analyze at StackHealthy, we stress the importance of proper technique and form to reduce injury and maximize the benefits of the exercise. As such, please follow the guide closely and practice with light weights before scaling up.
Load the trap bar (or ‘hex bar’) with your target weight. This should be somewhere around your normal deadlift weight and in many cases people find they can Trap Bar Deadlift more weight than they can deadlift. Now stand inside the bar with your position at dead center.
Lower your hips, while bending at the knees and keep your eyes and chest forward. Then grasp both the handles.
- Now that you have grasped the handles, lift the bar by extending your hips and knees to their full extent.
- At the highest point of the deadlift, pull your shoulders back in a round motion.
- Then return the trap bar to the floor gradually, by allowing your knees to slightly bend forward, while bending the hips back.
- The back must be kept straight at all times and your knees must be facing the same direction as your feet.
Benefits of the Trap Bar Deadlift
Not only is the Trap Bar Deadlift better for the body in the sense it doesn’t cause nearly the same lumbar tension or knee ligament immobility as a convention deadlift, the trap bar also produces better ROM with the hip flexors, hamstrings and glutes moving the weight at higher velocity and building core body power.
In an independent experiment, substantial levels of power, velocity, and peak force were produced by using a trap bar compared to the barbell deadlifts across varying loads. And of course we all remember from high school physics that Power = (Force x Distance) /Time; the increased velocity and power of the trap bar vs the deadlift helps to explain why many people are able to lift more weight use the trap bar.
Advantages of the Hex Bar
- The design of the trap bar significantly reduces the amount of force the vertebral column has to withstand.
- It offers a greater level of control not found in other types of deadlifts.
- The design of the bar allows the athlete to stand inside the bar, creating a levers and torque that produce higher velocity and greater power on the lift, allowing for greater weight.
- Deadlifting includes the most major muscle groups of any lift, the trap bar provides stability for many of the muscle chains, tendons, and ligaments; aiding in the support of the lift for beginners or those with spine or lower back problems.