Trap Bar Deadlift Essentials – Introduction
Before knowing what a trap bar deadlift is, you have to become familiar with the trap bar itself.
This unique piece of strength training equipment is also known as a hex bar.
The trap bar is a weight training device invented by Al Gerard, a competitive powerlifter from North Carolina.
The trap bar is also known as the Gerard Trap Bar as well as a hex bar.
It is also called a hex trap bar because of its hexagonal shape.
Al Gerard created the trap bar because he had a back injury that kept flaring up when doing straight barbell deadlifts.
Gerard patented and invented it to prevent lower back pain deadlift injury.
His device moves your body into the center of gravity of the weight as opposed to behind it.
The “Classic” Gerard trap bar weight is 45 pounds, the same weight as an Olympic Barbell.
Benefits of Deadlifting With a Trap Bar
What are the critical trap bar deadlift benefits for athletes and general fitness enthusiasts?
Here are 11 key advantages of doing trap bar deadlifts vs. standard barbell deadlifts.
- Reduce stress on your back
- Eliminate shin scraping
- More comfortable shoulder shrugs
- Stop using a mixed grip
- Increase peak force
- Excellent straight bar deadlift alternative
- Romanian deadlift substitute
- Shoulder shrug alternative
- Do squats with a trap bar
- Squat bar jumps
- Target the same muscles as a conventional barbell deadlift
11 Key Trap Bar Deadlifts Benefits Description
#1. Less stress on your back
In the traditional barbell deadlift, the straight bar is in front of your body.
This position increases the stress on your back and knees.
In contrast, the trap bar eliminates the vulnerability of your lower back and knees when deadlifting.
The reason is that the weight is closer to your axis of rotation.
However, you have to bend your knee more when using the hex bar, as opposed to a conventional deadlift.
#2. No more shin scraping
In the barbell deadlift, the straight bar will rub against your shins and knees when you lift with proper deadlift technique.
However, the hex bar deadlift eliminates the problem and pain of the bar hitting against your shins and knees.
See 15 Ways How to Protect Your Shins When Deadlifting if you prefer to do traditional barbell deadlifts.
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#3. More comfort for shoulder shrugs
Shoulder shrugs and bent-over barbell rows are also going to be more comfortable for the same reason.
Which is that the barbell is no longer in front of your body, increasing stress on your back and knees.
#4. Eliminate the mixed grip deadlift
The hex bar also eliminates the need to use a mixed grip, which is a risk for bicep tear injury in the conventional deadlift.
#5. Greater peak force
According to Chris Beardsley, strength training expert, “studies show that the hex bar deadlift involves greater peak force, bar speed, range of motion, and peak power outputs compared to the conventional straight bar deadlift.”
This greater peak force makes the hex bar deadlift an excellent choice for building strength and athletic performance.
Here is an excellent video tutorial on how to do trap bar deadlifts:
You can see more full-length quality fitness videos at Pump Chasers.
#6. Conventional deadlift alternative
Trap bar deadlifts are a great conventional barbell deadlift alternative.
They are easier on your back and can reduce the fear of lower back pain, a common deadlift injury.
While the risk of injury is less with the trap bar, you can still build your arms, back, legs, and shoulders with progressive resistance training.
If you do not have a trap bar available, you can use dumbbells as a good deadlift alternative.
That is unless the weights are so massive that there are no dumbbells available at that weight.
In that case, you should get yourself a trap bar or go to a gym that has them.
#7. Trap Bar Romanian Deadlift
The trap bar Romanian deadlift is an excellent substitute for the standard Romanian deadlift.
And in case you are wondering, this is why you should do Romanian deadlifts.
Watch this Alan Thrall video that explains the importance of learning the hip hinge movement pattern, along with a tutorial on how to Romanian deadlift:
#8. Straight bar shoulder shrug alternative
Trap bar shrugs are an excellent substitute for straight bar barbell shrugs.
The disadvantage of the straight bar barbell shrug is that the weight is in front of you and not on the side.
As a result, you will be working out your upper trapezius muscle more than your lower trapezius muscle.
The trap bar will win over using dumbells when the weights that you use for the shrug will go up significantly.
It is much more convenient for hundreds of pounds of weight than to find and handle dumbbells at that weight level.
#9. Squat with a trap bar
The trap bar deadlift is an excellent squat alternative if you don’t want to squat with a barbell on your back.
For example, if you do not have access to, own, or have space for a power rack.
A good power or squat rack is an essential piece of equipment to minimize the risk of injury in case you fail at the bottom of the squat.
Using a trap bar to squat will relieve your back and spine from handling excess stress from the weights, as well as eliminate the need for a power rack.
However, you should note that you will not get the same full range of motion with a trap bar squat as a traditional back squat.
#10. Trap bar jumps
Trap bar jumps aka trap bar squat jumps is an excellent exercise to increase your vertical jump.
As with most trap bar exercises, you can also use dumbbells if you do not have access to a trap bar.
#11. Trap Bar Deadlift Muscles Worked
Bret Contreras writes extensively about sports and exercise science.
He selected the trap bar deadlift as the one go-to exercise if he could only do/prescribe one lift.
Here is his rationale:
“The trap bar deadlift muscles used are a mixture between a squat and a deadlift.
It utilizes more quadriceps than a typical deadlift and more hamstrings than a typical squat.
For this reason, renowned strength training author Stuart McRobert mentioned that it should be called a squat-lift.
Simply put, the trap bar deadlift is more hip-dominant and will build the quads, hams, glutes, erectors, lats, traps, and grip musculature and build a ton of functional strength and power.
The only drawback is that it wouldn’t build upper body pushing strength, but as far as one lift is concerned, it’ll do more than any other exercise would for building total body muscle and creating favorable adaptations for increased athletic capacity.”
Many athletes, such as NBA phenom Steph Curry have successfully used the trap par deadlift to increase their overall strength, especially lower body.
The Most Popular Trap Bar Exercises
The most popular trap bar exercises are:
- Upright rows
- Shoulder Shrugs
- Overhead presses
- Romanian deadlift
Watch the video below to see an example of the top 5 exercises you can do with a trap bar:
Barbell VS. Trap Bar Deadlift- Which Builds More Power & Strength? | SHOULD YOU SWITCH?
What is the difference between a dead squat bar and a trap bar?
The answer is how much weight you can load up.
While a trap bar can usually hold about 500 pounds, the dead-squat has a weight capacity of 800 pounds.
How to Use the Trap Bar
Step in the middle of the trap bar after you have loaded the weights.
Then, perform the workout of your choice using the best form possible.
Trap Bars for Sale
Several vendors produce variations of the original Gerard Trap Bar.
Here are some of the most popular hex bars today:
- HulkFit Olympic 2-Inch Hex Weight Lifting Trap Bar, 1000-Pound Capacity
- Cap Olympic Trap Bar, Shrug Bar, Hex Bar, Deadlift Bar
- Titan Fitness Hex Bars (Standard Bar)
See 5 Best Deadlift Bars on The Market Today in 2022 for additional details and options.
Trap Bar Deadlift Benefits – Wrapping Up
The trap bar deadlift is an excellent alternative deadlift exercise.
But even more than that, some studies show that it is superior as a strength training tool.
When you are looking to dramatically change your body, start deadlifting today.
I am confident any deadlift variation you stick with will do the same for you.
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