This is Your Quick Training Tip, a chance to learn how to work smarter in just a few moments so you can get right to your workout.
Few exercises are as venerated as the deadlift. Do it right, and not only will you hammer your glutes and hams, but you’ll also work your quads, psoas (hip flexors), and just about every muscle in your core, especially your traps, abs, erector spinae, and obliques.
But therein lies the catch: Not everyone fully realizes these muscular benefits, because few people do the lift right.
That’s where the trap bar comes in. Even if you’ve never used one, you’ve likely seen the hexagon-shaped lifting tool leaning against a corner of your gym. By placing yourself directly in the center of the bar, you’re all but forced to initiate the deadlift with the all-important “hip hinge” movement pattern, pushing your hips back (like you’re closing a door with your butt) instead of bending forward at the waist.
To be clear, the trap bar won’t help you correct all form flaws. You’re still going to have to make sure that you don’t allow your back and shoulders to round, that you don’t lower your hips too far (i.e., squat), that you keep your core engaged, and that your upward drive is focused on pushing your hips forward instead of “pulling” the bar up.
But the hip hinge is the hardest element of the deadlift to master. It’s also one of the keys to performing the move with maximum strength and power, and for minimizing your risk of injury. Nail the hip hinge with the help of a trap bar, and you’ll be on your way to squeezing the most out of every rep—both now and when you switch to an Olympic (straight) bar.
Your move: If you’re new to the deadlift or need to master proper form, you’ll be well-served using a trap bar. But don’t stop with the deadlift.
The trap bar can also be used to perform the loaded carry, floor press, overhead press, and squat jump. An open trap bar offers even more options, including the step-up and lunge. In short, the trap bar isn’t just for learning to grease-the-groove with the deadlift—with a little ingenuity, it can expand your exercise library regardless of your experience level.
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