Trap Bars first made their mark on the world in 1985 when powerlifting aficionado Al Gerard patented an awesome new design that looked a bit like a high school geometry project gone wrong. The hexagonal shape bar had been created by Gerard who was looking for a way to train around a recurring back injury. What Gerard stumbled across may have been one of the greatest innovations strength training has seen in the last three decades.
Today coaches globally use and endorse the hex trap bar and its many spin-off designs as a back-friendly alternative to both traditional straight bar deadlifts and squats. But the trap bar is much more than that and has found its way into the mainstream because of the benefits it offers against a traditional straight bar deadlift.
The Benefits of Training With a Trap Bar
- Less Spinal Tension
For a while there deadlifts became a big "no-no" in the world of mainstream fitness, and whilst studying back in the late 90's, I have vivid memories of deadlifts being very much something to be avoided when training clients.
One of the biggest drawbacks of a straight bar deadlift or barbell back squat it would seem iis the placement of load on the lumbar spine. Whilst your hips create the pivot to move the bar, the weight in both instances is some distance away from this pivot point. Its inevitable therefore that the lumbar spine will become a crowbar of sorts to in some way assist in either lift, which under increasing fatigue can expose athletes to levels of risk that are unnecessary.
With a trap bar however the user steps inside the bar meaning the long lever that was once exposed with the straight-bar lift is now shortened along a horizontal axis significantly reducing the sheer force on the spine.
- More Power
Not only do trap bars place less tension on the spine but the latest research from Swinton et. Al also found that the hex-bar deadlift displayed significantly greater peak force, peak power and peak velocity compared to that of the straight bar deadlift.
As the research goes on to suggest this fits with the idea that the trap bar allows "the lower body muscles to work in a more coordinated way and share the load, thereby working closer to the velocity-end of the force-velocity spectrum" (Source : Strength and Conditioning Research)
Most of us start out deadlifting with very little skill. As a result our propensity for injury is reasonably high. Perfecting the deadlift with a traditional straight bar which requires a lot of coaching and refinement as well as concentrated efforts on mobility work. This is even more of a reality for many of us as we spend increasing amounts of time stuck behind a desk or a steering wheel perfecting our non-desirable but inevitable lumbar flexion and posterior pelvic tilt.
For beginners the trap bar comes into its own. Its very design requires the user to have a more upright torso, allowing the athlete to "sit" into the movement with far fewer of the technical requirements ordinarily demanded of athletes confronted with a traditional straight bar.
The trap bar also allows increased forward movement from the knees and for the hips to sit lower than they usually would, as well as avoiding that very real prospect for many beginners of the dreaded "shin scrape" with a traditional straight bar.
The Perfect Trap Bar
Traditionally Trap Bars have been expensive. The reason for this is three-fold as in comparison to a normal straight bar they're more expensive to manufacture, more expensive to freight and they also take up more precious warehouse space.
The easiest way therefore to get around this issue was to make a flat-pack fold up design that minimised freight costs and made handling infinitely easier.
Here at Active Nation we were super-excited when Bodyworx Australia patented this very concept and now we're even more excited to announce we have the exclusive rights to these amazing trap bars right here in New Zealand!
Learn more about the Bodyworx 32kg Olympic Hex Patented Hex Trap Bar, which has been cleverly engineered to tolerate up to a 1000lb load by following the link below: