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Old 02-01-2010, 09:06 AM   #1
Allen Yeh
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Default Trap bar - Opinions?

I used a trap bar for the first time on Friday and then foolishly decided to try out Gary's half hour deadlift challenge with it.

What does everyone think about them that have used them?

As I'm not prepping for a PL meet Not a big deal to opt with the trap bar for a bit right?

I liked that the DL felt more natural with the trap bar.

I didn't like that if my hand position was the tiniest bit off that the whole bar would tilt, on one of my reps the thing tilted so bad that when I was lowering the DL I thought I was going to crush my toes.

Also the grip "bar" was very narrow much smaller in diameter than a regular bar, without my Lynx grips I felt like the bar was cutting into my hand.

Foot placement was a bit odd for me too as with a conventional DL you know where you place your feet relative to the bar. With the trap bar since you aren't as close to the bar a few times I found myself leaning a bit too much on one side or the other.
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Old 02-01-2010, 09:50 AM   #2
Mike ODonnell
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When I used to have access to one, I would do them while standing on a step. More like a deep squat starting out of the hole, less pulling than a DL.

I favor the DL for more "pulling" and back, but the trap bar can be rotated in esp if you can do it elevated (instead of doing a snatch grip DL on a platform for example).
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:34 PM   #3
Neill Smith
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I really like them and can DL more with a trap bar than straight bar. For what it's worth, I remember Rip saying that the top of a barbell DL is a stable position, and the top of a trap bar DL is "an unstable mess".
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Old 02-01-2010, 09:19 PM   #4
Gavin Harrison
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Early in my training, I'd used a trap bar exclusively for dead lifting. When I went to another gym that didn't have a trap bar, I couldn't dead lift nearly as much as I could with the trap bar. It seemed to me that deadlifting with a trap bar transfers poorly to dead lifting with a straight bar, however, the opposite is not true.

For me at least, trying to go from trap bar DLs to straight bar DLs was awkward and yielded poor results, at least for my DL. I don't know if trap bars are a good training tool or not, I've never used them past the point when I moved to a gym without them, even when given the opportunity. I guess they could have been useful because they allowed me to lift a bit more weight than a straight bar, at least before I'd done much heavy lifting.
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Old 02-01-2010, 10:19 PM   #5
Derek Weaver
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Like Mike said, trap bar DL'ing is more of a leg pressing movement than a pulling movement.

When I had access to one on a regular basis I was too stupid to realize that deads and squats were more beneficial than the hammer strength machine row. In the couple of times that I've had access I've liked it.

I think it's a good thing to use when you either want/need to get the bar off your back for a bit but want to still develop the lower body, or are maybe just getting back into deadlifting after an injury. Kind of like a step approach to actual pulling (this one is merely a guess though. nothing to back it up)
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Old 02-05-2010, 08:26 AM   #6
James Evans
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I like it.

I got one for the rowing club I coach at back in September. It took me an hour to unwrap it and was a workout in itself. It was like the most maddening childhood Christmas present scenario you can imagine. Desperately wanted to try it out and there was just more and more cardboard and bubble wrap. If the thing had needed batteries I would have smashed something up.

I have 'athletes' that lack the flexibilty to deadlift conventionally. I see this with the squat too and it is often matched with a lack of back strength to support even a barbell.* This is particularly apparent with the novice women I coach, but does include some of the guys. I read a lot of stuff by Will Heffernan over the summer and saw that he used a trap bar a lot. I also knew that Cressey was a fan and he certainly isn't shy of conventional deadlifting.

I have 2 hours a week with the guys, 1 hour with the girls, and across both groups 32+ athletes of vastly different ability and experience. In a tiny space. Keeping it simple helps.


I can load people up in a way I can't do with normal deadlifts.

The hybrid nature of the exercise gives me a kind of half way house between deads and squats.

The grip limitations of normal deadlifts are postponed to much higher loads.

I can comfortably pull reps at a far higher % of my 1RM. Mostly I see people keeping their shape with the trap bar and requiring minimal resets.

After extended use I've taken people back to normal deads and magically they respond to the cues much better and finally get it.

It is much easier on the lower back. Brooks Kubik wrote that the trap bar does not give an adequate stimulus to the low back. Fair point but my guys are hammering their backs just by rowing and if I can get them through the season relatively pain free and without having to administer therapy to them twice a week simply to allow them to race, I'm happy. I do not get beaten up by this in the way that I can do from deadlifting normally.


The bar weighs 30k. It's bloody awkward to move around and to store. I can't fit our bumper plates onto to it and the smallest O plates I can use are 20k cast iron. Initially I was horrified by this because I thought the lowest amount I could load it up to was 70kg and this would stop the girls from using it. Thankfully I have plastic training plates and so we can start at 35k.

It's not a particularly versatile tool.

Some trainees seem to lack even a degree of spatial awareness. It's hard enough to get them to notice the rings and knurling on a standard bar but now they have something like a foot and half square to stand in WHEREVER they choose and a grip selection that seems to be made by lottery.

It is much easier on the lower back...

Anyway, I like it. I can manage about 35lbs more for a single than I can with a straight bar. Does it carry over to straight bar deadlifts? Who cares, I'm just trying to get people stronger and make them better at rowing, not better at deadlifting. And proper deadlifts still rock.

*Interestingly, novices I first taught in February 2009 came back for this season with significantly developed flexibilty and back strength. My conclusion was that a summer of rowing (they had not lifted since March) had done wonders for their general athleticism.
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