Trap Bar Deadlift demonstration of proper form and execution by Joe Arko.
You can see more full length quality fitness videos at Trainer Mash.
Trap Bar Deadlift Essentials
Before knowing what a trap bar deadlift is, we have to become familiar with the trap bar itself.
What is a trap bar also known as a hex bar?
It 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 and a Hex Bar.
It was created because Al Gerard had a back injury which kept flaring up when doing straight bar barbell deadlifts.
To prevent further lower back pain deadlift injury, Al Gerard patented and invented the trap bar which moves your body into the center of gravity of the weight as opposed to behind it.
How heavy is a trap bar?
The “Classic” Gerard Trap Bar weight is 45 pounds, the same weight as an Olympic Barbell.
This is how the trap bar and the trap bar deadlift was born.
Trap Bar Deadlift vs Barbell Deadlift
Three Key Trap Bar Deadlift Benefits
1. In the barbell deadlift, the straight bar is in front of your body which increases the stress on your back and knees.
Trap bar deadlifts eliminate the vulnerability of your lower back and knees when deadlifting.
2. In the barbell deadlift, the straight bar will rub against your shins and knees while you are deadlifting with proper deadlift form.
The trap bar deadlift eliminates the problem and pain of the bar hitting against your shins and knees.
3. In addition to the benefits of trap bar deadlifts over barbell deadlifts, shoulder shrugs and bent over barbell rows are also going to be more comfortable when using a trap bar for the same reason that the barbell is no longer in front of your body increasing stress on your back and knees.
To see a good video tutorial of the trap bar deadlift from Trainer Mash, click here.
Are Trap Bar Deadlifts Easier?
The answer is yes.
Trap bar deadlifts are easier on your back and can reduce the fear of lower back pain deadlift injury.
Al Gerard discovered that he could still build overall strength and size for his back, legs and arms training with a trap bar vs a straight bar.
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.
Trap Bar Deadlift Alternative
If you do not have a trap bar available, using dumbbells is usually a viable trap bar deadlift alternative.
Unless the weights are so heavy that there are no dumbells available at that weight.
Trap Bar RDL
The trap bar rdl also known as the trap bar Romanian deadlift is an excellent substitute for the standard Romanian deadlift.
To see the trap bar Romanian deadlift, click here.
Trap Bar Shrugs
Trap bar shrugs are a good substitute for straight bar barbell shrugs.
The disadvantage of the straight bar barbell shrug is because 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 that your lower trapezius muscle.
The solution is to use either dumbells for shoulder shrugs or the trap bar.
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 to use a trap bar for hundreds of pounds of weight than to find dumbells at that weight level.
Trap Bar Squat
The trap bar squat is a good alternative for people who do not like to squat with the barbell on their back.
The trap bar squat will relieve your back and spine from handling excess stress from the weights.
To see an example of the trap bar squat, check out this video.
Trap Bar Jumps
Trap bar jumps or trap bar squat jumps are an excellent exercise to increase your vertical jump.
As with most trap bar exercises, you can also use dumbells if you do not have access to a trap bar.
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 is a mixture between a squat and a deadlift. It utilizes more quad than a typical deadlift and more ham 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 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. Read more of Bret's thoughts on the trap bar deadlift here.
Dead-Squat Bar vs Trap Bar
What is the difference between the dead squat bar and a trap bar?
The answer is how much weight you can load up.
The trap bar can usually hold about 500 pounds.
The dead squat bar can go up to 800 pounds.
How to Use the Trap Bar
Using the trap bar is fairly straight forward.
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 Bar Exercises
The most popular exercises to do with a trap bar, are:
Trap Bars for Sale
Variations of the original Gerard Trap Bar are produced by several vendors.
This page lists a variety of trap bars also known as hex bars with product links.
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