Trap bar

Taking a break from kettlebells today to discuss another awesome piece of training equipment. I am of course talking about the trap bar aka the hex bar aka the shrug bar aka what-the-hell-is-that bar. They have been around since the 80’s but still don’t get the dues they deserve. They are usually hexagon shape but can be diamond shaped also. They usually have 2 sets of handles. One at center level. The other a few inches higher. They are significantly heavier than barbells also due to the more metal they consist of.

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Trap bar deadlift

To perform deadlifts, pretty much every major muscle group in your body is required to… ahem, pull it’s weight. You will get a great hamstrings, glutes, quads, abdominal and back workout. You will also develop superior grip strength. And not to mention that there is something very natural about picking heavy objects off the ground. So whether it is a deadlift with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, trap bar, elevated or deficit deadlift, you would be a fool not to incorporate this move in your workouts.

Trap bar deadlifts are a good alternative to barbell deadlifts if you have any back or mobility issues. They can also be used if you want to lessen the risk of these issues developing later on in life. This is because there is less stress on the back as you will be stepping inside the trap bar and be inline with the weight as opposed to behind it. You can also lower your hips more and bring your knees more forward which will also ease the stress on your back. I am a fan of exercising with neutral arm position/grip which cause less stress on your wrists also. You will also not be distracted by the thought of the bar scraping your shins and bashing your knees on the way up. Just like the goblet squat can be a helpful tool to learn correct technique for barbell squats, the trap bar deadlift can also help learn and improve technique for barbell deadlifts. You will find that all of these reasons will allow you to be able to lift more weight on a trap bar than you can on a barbell which will boost your confidence and feelings of achievement.

Trap bar deadlift guide

  • Step inside the trap bar ensuring you are in the center and your feet are shoulder width apart.
  • Hinge at the hips and grip the bar. Your hands should be aligned with the middle of your feet.
  • Keep your back straight and shoulders back. Make sure there is no slack in the bar.
  • Thrust your hips forward, straighten your legs and lift the weight.

Trap bar deadlift tips

  • Keep a neutral neck position and don’t look up and tilt head back whilst lifting.
  • Do not round your back and have your shoulders forward. Keep your back straight and shoulders back and take a deep breath before lifting.
  • Lift the weight until you are standing straight. A common mistake is that once the weight is up, people tend to bend backwards and thrust their hips too forward as there is no barbell directly in front of you giving you a cue to stop.

Other Trap bar exercises

Trap bars are versatile and can be used for other exercises apart from deadlifts such as:

  • Farmers walk. It can be awkward holding heavy dumbbells by your sides and walking but with a trap bar you can walk more naturally.
  • Shrugs. It can also be awkward performing shoulder shrugs with heavy dumbbells by your side. With a trap bar you should find it more comfortable.
  • Bent-over rows. Performed with a trap bar instead of a barbell, bent over rows will put less stress on your back as you are more inline with the weight and not holding it in front of you.
  • Squat jumps. For an explosive exercise, you can perform weighted jumping squats which are definitely more safer than jumping with a loaded barbell on your back.
  • Overhead press. You will be inline with the weight and not have it in front of you as it is when performed with a barbell which once again will put less stress on your back and take away the worry of hitting your face with the barbell. It is difficult to get into position though so you will need some bench/cage spotters or a few helpers.

I hope you enjoyed this article and learnt something which will help in your understanding of trap bars and give you some motivation to use them if you do not already. Feel free to leave comments about your trap bar experiences.


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