Why do you see us using the trap bar with clients, and sometimes when training ourselves?
If you’ve been a user of conventional deadlifts in your program, along with barbell squats and an almost exclusive barbell ridden program; you might see yourself as a bit of barbell purist.
A lot of weight lifters and powerlifters will have the idea lodged in their heads that barbell exercises are always (or almost always) superior to non-barbell counterparts.
But what if there are other options?
At Real World Fitness, you’ll see us using a variety of methods to get the most out of our clients. Everyone has a different story. Everyone has a unique, tailored plan to follow.
Deadlifting 20kg with great form after spinal surgery can be as impressive as deadlifting 200kg for reps with shiny Eleiko plates.
One of our favourite exercise variants is the Trap Bar Deadlift.
So why use the Trap Bar instead of the barbell?
Barbells are straight bit of metal that let you load weight on each side. To deadlift a barbell, you stand behind the bar, grip it, and rip it.
Trap bars are a hexagonal shape (which is why they’re sometimes called “hex bars”) with sleeves on the end that let you load weight, and they have handles on either side that allow you to grip the bar with a neutral grip. Trap bars generally have two sets of handles – one set that’s at the same level as the rest of the bar (called “low handles”), and one set that’s elevated (called high handles). To deadlift a trap bar, you stand inside the bar, grab one of the sets of handles, and lift it.
Both conventional and Trap Bar Deadlifts involve picking heavy weights up off the floor using comparable loads, both essentially train hinging at the hips, both involve similar ranges of motion, and both elicit similar activation in the muscle groups they train.
So what are the benefits?
1) It’s easier to learn than the barbell deadlift.
The barbell deadlift generally takes at least a few sessions to really get the hang of, and it takes quite a while to really master – you can still be having little epiphanies years into lifting.
The main thing that makes it challenging to learn is finding your balance. The bar must stay in front of your legs, which makes it easy to lose your balance forward or round your spine to compensate (hello injuries…)
With the trap bar deadlift, your shins won’t get in the way,
so it’s easier to keep your balance and maintain a good spinal position, especially for people who are new to the lift – and for anyone who is recovering from injury, or is simply weak in the musculature around the hips.
2) No hyperextension at lockout.
A common technical error with barbell deadlifts is over-pulling. When people lock the weight out, they’ll hyperextend their spine to finish the lift. Now, this isn’t the end of the world, but it’s probably a little riskier than just finishing in an upright
position, and it just looks ridiculous. Over time, you’ll probably hurt yourself (we see this COUNTLESS times in “proper” powerlifters who refuse to address shoddy technique).
With the trap bar deadlift, there’s no barbell in front of you to use as a counterbalance to allow you to hyperextend. People assume a good lockout position naturally.
3) Less chance of getting pulled forward/spinal flexion.
Even if you’re a technically proficient deadlifter, your spine can still start to round as you fatigue. Your hips start giving out, so your body finds other muscles to shift the load to. With the trap bar, since knee movement isn’t constrained by the bar, your hips can shift more of the load to your quads as they start to fatigue instead. Jacked quads are better than a jacked up back.
Want to learn how to deadlift correctly? Trap bar deadlifts are a good way to start – even if you have no interest in deadlifting with a barbell.
Feel free to drop us a message if you would like some more advice.
If your gym doesn’t have a trap bar; why not join us for a few months? You never know – you might not look back