A Trap Bar is a variation on a barbell that is often likened to a flat, metal hexagon. Not many gyms have them, but despite this and their strange shape they could potentially be an indispensable part of your arsenal for getting the best results from your deadlift training.
Also known as a hex bar, there are numerous advantages of incorporating Trap Bar deadlifts into your training regime. The biggest drawback of deadlifting with a straight bar, particularly with taller athletes, is the potential to put increased stress on the lower back due a lack of lumbar flexibility because the barbell must be placed in front of the body.
Compared to the standard barbell, the hex bar allows a lifter to balance the bar more centrally, since the legs are located within the centre of the bar, in line with the hips. Which is in contrast to the straight bar, where the bar must be placed in front of the person lifting.
Since the hex-bar changes your posture to a more upright position then it is an ideal training aid for people with limited flexibility who often sit 8 hours a day at a desk and take a great deal of up-front training to get noticeable benefits from a standard barbell deadlift. The hex bar allows the user to adopt a more natural sitting position and also not scrape your shins at the bottom of the movement.
In addition to the Hex Bar being considered safer than a standard barbell deadlift, evidence has also suggested that it is a more effective apparatus to increase your maximum power. According to studies, across a range of sub-maximal loads an increase in power was found to be generated from within the hexbar as opposed to the standard barbell. Meaning you can effectively lift more weight, faster and over a greater distance.
Due to your body’s position, the hex bar deadlift is more of a flexor exercise as opposed to an extensor exercise. Therefore, as an alternative to a standard squat, the hex bar squat is in fact a better choice as opposed to a standard deadlift.
Deadlifting Technique with the Hex Bar
To setup for the trap bar deadlift, first step inside the perimeter of the bar, making sure your feet are positioned equidistant between the front and back of the bar.
Grip the handles tightly on either side so that the centre of your hands line up to the front of your shins. Rotate your elbows forwards to support an erect spine.
Squat your hips down with an arch in your back. Once in position, stand up by driving your feet into the ground, straightening your legs, and thrusting your hips forward. As you approach the top of the movement, squeeze your glutes together and brace your abdominals to finish the movement. Make sure to not over extend your back to far backwards, use your abdominal muscles to stop in the vertical, so that your entire body is perpendicular to the floor.
If you suffer from limited lower back flexibility and still want to adapt a typical straight bar deadlift to your training regime then make sure you check out the Trap Bar!