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Powerlifting: Trap Bar Dead Lift

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The Trap Bar and I have a love-hate relationship. Just in case you’re not sure what the Trap Bar is, well you know that bar you may see at your gym with the hexagonal shape in the middle of it?! Yes, that is a Trap Bar. You may also hear it referred to as a Hex Bar. In general it is one of the greatest tools a person can use to increase quadricep strength and take stress off the low back.

The biggest drawback with straight bar Dead Lifts is the amount of injury potential to the lower spine. In addition a beginner can develop poor lifting techniques which can cause injury down the road. Always with everything in life there is good and bad, in my opinion the good outweighs the bad with the Trap Bar.

For your client who is just starting into CrossFit or Powerlifting the Trap Bar is ideal for teaching proper Dead Lift position. The configuration of the bar allows for an upright torso position as well as teaching the client to “sit” into the movement, allowing the knees to move more forward and the hips to sit lower than normal.

My love-hate relationship with the Trap Bar is full circle. I love the Trap Bar because for me it allows me to continue to correct my Dead Lift technique I learned over four years ago when I started into CrossFit. In addition I am doing strictly anabolic lifting, nothing aerobic; Trap Bars use the biggest muscle groups helping me grow stronger in my quads while keeping stress off my lower back. Why do I hate the bar? Well, it is quite heavy at 80 pounds and it never fails when I go to put it away I get hit in the face or the head with it afterwards. But, my love for the bar far outweighs the hate.

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When you are going to execute your Trap Bar Dead Lifts there are a couple of simple tips I have learned from my experience with bar.

  • After step into the middle of the bar make sure that your feet are equal distance from the front to back of the bar. This way when you lift the bar off the ground the bar will be equally balanced making your movement most effective.
  • Grip the handles tightly on either side so that your middle finger is in horizontal alignment with the front of your shins. The handles are on the sides of the bar unlike a straight barbell.
  • Squat your hips down as if you were to “sit” down into a low chair.
  • Once you are set, stand up by driving your feet into the ground, straightening your legs, and thrusting your hips forward. As you approach the top of the lift, squeeze your glutes together.

The Trap Bar is a piece of equipment I feel is a must have for every gym. From the beginner lifter to the advanced athlete everyone can benefit from it. I use the bar about two to three times a month in my training and have noticed some great gains in my Dead Lifts when I use a straight bar.

Here’s a picture of me with 160 pounds on the bar for 3-5 reps and 4 sets.

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Notice how the weight of the bar is equally distributed. The bar isn’t higher in the front or back. This is how the bar should be each time you are at the top of the movement. Like anything it just takes practice.

In Strength-

Julie

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