Tip: The Strength Test Real Lifters Can Pass

Are you strong? Like, really strong in a real-world kinda way? Take this test and find out.

Categorized under Training

Lead Photo Credit: Daniel Bernhardt

The 1RM Trap-Bar Deadlift Test

As a serious lifter, you should be able to pass this test:

Set up a trap bar with 2.5 times your bodyweight. Now, get one good rep. That’s it. So, a 200 pound man should try to hit a 500 pound trap-bar deadlift.

Trap Bar

Trap-bar deadlifts aren’t inherently “better” for testing strength than traditional squats or deadlifts, but they have a number of unique benefits.

Squats are mostly knee-dominant, with some help from the posterior chain. Deadlifts are mostly hip-dominant, with some help from the anterior chain. There’s definitely overlap between the two, but it’s hard to determine who’s stronger: a guy with a 500 pound squat and a 400 pound deadlift, or a guy with a 400 pound squat and a 500 pound deadlift.

A trap-bar deadlift can settle the debate. It’s a hybrid movement that combines the best of the squat pattern with the best of the hinge pattern.

Rather than focusing on one side of the body, it requires a great deal of strength from both the posterior and anterior chain. On top of recruiting the entire musculature of the lower half, trap-bar deadlifts require significant upper back and grip strength.

Plus, no lift translates more directly to overall athleticism and performance like the trap-bar deadlift. For example, a vertical jump requires exerting maximum force into the ground, which is exactly what it takes to lift a maximally loaded trap bar off the floor.

Can’t Do It?

Make trap-bar deadlifts your primary strength focus on lower-body days. Squats and conventional deadlifts obviously help, but nothing boosts your trap-bar deadlift more than the lift itself. Heavy singles, sets of 3-5 reps, and dynamic effort sets with bands or chains will go a long way.

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Charley Gould, CSCS, is a former professional baseball player and strength-and-conditioning coach. He specializes in helping individuals look, feel, and perform like elite athletes. Charley is the head of sports performance at Universal Athletic Club in Lancaster, PA. Follow Charley Gould on Instagram