If you’ve seen this funny looking bar at your gym, odds are that it’s being used for shrugging, or even worse, is sitting in the corner collecting dust. For some it’s an intimidating contraption to be avoided at all costs, but to me and many other lifters it plays a crucial role in our training.
1) It’s a lower back saver
It goes without saying that if you’re in pain when you’re training then something is wrong. With many exercises – the deadlift being one of the top offenders – low back pain is quick to rear its ugly head, interfering with future sessions because of the residual discomfort. For those who have a history of this kind of pain, or simply want to use it as a preventative measure, the Trap Bar should be your first line of defense. When doing a traditional deadlift with a straight bar, it’s in front of your body, forcing you to hinge forward to grab the bar, then you have to fight against the downward forces of the weight, resisting the urge to round your lower back as you lift. For many, the initial set up puts them in a compromised position from the start, usually only going downhill from there. When deadlifting with a Trap Bar you are inside the bar and because of your position and the design of the bar, you no longer have to aggressively hinge forward to grab the bar. You also don’t have to internally rotate your shoulders – all you have to do is keep your arms straight down by your side to grab the bar you’re ready to deadlift with a lot less stress on your spine.
2) Higher load
Let’s just be honest: somewhere deep inside all of us, no matter how small, there’s a calling to be as strong as we can, so it’s completely natural to want to lift as much weight as possible, sometimes at the sake of form. With the Trap Bar, due to the leverage and mechanical advantages you gain from being inside the path of the bar bar, the universe & stars have aligned and everything is working in your favour, so as long as your technique is spot on, you’ll be able to lift significantly more weight than you would with a straight bar.
3) Easy to learn
The deadlift is a technical exercise no matter how you slice it, so the more possible “uh oh” moments you can prevent and avoid the better, and this is where the Trap Bar really shines because of relatively small learning curve. Those new to the exercise usually have a problem hinging from their hips. The Trap Bar dodges this issue because of the handle & bar placement, allowing beginners to squat down a bit more to grab the bar and gain confidence with the movement – minor kinks can be worked out later. By having your hands down your side, it’s much easier to keep your chest up and upper back from rounding, and this has a direct impact as to what happens further down in your lower back as well.