TRAP BAR DEADLIFT Benefits & Technique (by Coach Reza Sharifian) Athletix Gym
As a strength and conditioning (S&C) coach, I believe that exercise selection is one of the most important and challenging parts of writing a program.
It doesn’t matter if we are designing the program for an athlete, a gym enthusiast, or a complete novice; we need to properly select exercises to help them achieve their goals.
To do this, we need to know the pros and cons of the selected activity, the mechanics, and the type of adaptations we get from that exercise.
We must also be aware of the athlete’s own strengths, weaknesses, and limitations.
For example, let’s pick the Trap Bar Deadlift (TBD) as the exercise we select.
What is the TBD mechanic? Which are the muscle groups that are engaged during the exercise, and the type of adaptation we are getting from it? How we can transfer it to different sports, and can safely teach it to the athlete?
TBD is one of my favourite exercises to include in my programs.
Here is why:
1. It is easy to teach, and it is relatively easy for athletes to learn.
2. It is safer for beginners in comparison to the barbell (BB) deadlift since the weight is closer to your body or centre of gravity (the load is on the side of the body rather than in front of us). This helps with neutral spine position and a more upright torso, without much cueing. This allows focusing on your athlete’s form during the hinging movement. Yes TBD is still a hinging movement like BB deadlift with slightly more flexion in knees (1). In the squat-continuum, the TBD is closer to the BB deadlift than the squat.
3. It can be used for athletes with a limited range of motion, especially around their hips. For example, if you have an athlete with a limited range of motion or long arms and thighs.
In this case, the high handle of the trap bar can help them to have a better starting position and lift easier and safer.
4. it can be used for post lower back injuries and during rehab to rebuild your athlete’s strength and form and to prepare them for the barbell deadlift.
5. It might be a better option in comparison to BB deadlift to transfer the strength and power gains from the exercise to other sports (e.g rugby, soccer, basketball, cricket, etc).
The (3) peak power and velocity during the TBD are higher in comparison to the BB deadlift. Based on these findings, athletes that need more peak velocity and power in their sports will benefit from the TBD.
Something that even more habitual lifters might not know is not all grips are equal:
The Trapbar has 2 handles (low and high) that can be used for different goals. For instance, by using the low grip handle you can have a lower hip position which makes your quads work harder. By using more quads you can push against the floor harder and as a result, you can improve the speed of your push-off and transfer it to your barbell deadlift. Also, the heavier load can be lifted during TBD in comparison to the barbell deadlift (2).
Now, just a few quick tips for beginners to improve the trap bar technique:
- Step into the centre of the bar with a shoulder-width stance.
- Position your arms straight under your shoulders and keep them straight during the lift.
- Take a deep breath and brace your core. By bracing your core, you increase the intra-abdominal pressure which reduces the load on your lumbar spine.
- Set your shoulders by engaging your lats. Imagine you are putting your shoulder blades in your back pockets. This helps you to avoid rounding your back, which reduces the pressure on your spine.
- Create tension against the bar before lifting it. Pull the slack out of the bar by pulling the bar and putting your body under tension without lifting the weight.
This stops you from any jerky movements and you can extend your hips and knees at the same time.
- Focus on pushing against the floor as you lift the weight.
- Extend your hip and knees at the same time. By doing this you avoid your hips shooting up too quickly, which will be more favourable for your lower back. It also helps you to lock your knees and hips at the end of your lift at the same time.