Tip: Make the Trap Bar Your Secret Weapon

Six reasons the trap bar is just plain awesome. Check 'em out.

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The trap bar has very specific advantages for almost anyone:

  1. Trap bar pulls typically resemble a cross between a squat and a deadlift, but you can make it whatever you want it to be. You can pull in a very hip-dominant way with significant torso inclination, or you can stay upright and make it like a front squat.
  2. The trap bar hits the traps really hard, and perhaps even harder than straight-bar pulls. This has to do with the grip width and neutral hand position.
  3. Since trap bar deads involve a more upright posture than conventional pulls, you can recover from them faster. They don't wreak the same havoc on the spine as compared to conventional deads. This means they're a good pulling option for higher-rep sets for building volume. In my own training, I'll often work up to a heavy 1-3 rep set on conventional pulls, then switch to the trap bar for back-off sets of 6-10 reps.
  4. The trap bar is a superb tool for farmer's walks since there's little to no chance that you'll drop the weight on your foot. Also, unlike farmer's walks with dumbbells, trap bar walks don't impede your gait by allowing the weights to hit the outside of your legs. Try this: Perform a 10-rep set of trap bar deadlifts and then start walking with the bar.
  5. The trap bar requires less skill than a straight bar. The beginner will instinctively adopt a safer position on this tool than he or she would with a straight bar.
  6. The trap bar is easier on the knees than squats, and easier on the back than conventional deadlifts – the best of both worlds, the worst of none. Coach Christian Thibaudeau agrees:

Charles Staley is an accomplished strength coach who specializes in helping older athletes reclaim their physicality and vitality. At age 56, Charles is leaner than ever, injury free, and in his lifetime best shape. His PRs include a 400-pound squat, 510-pound deadlift, and a 17 chin-up max. Follow Charles Staley on Facebook