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The trap bar was invented by Al Gerard back in the late 1980s as an easier way to do shrugs and that’s how the trap bar got its name. And who doesn’t like training the traps, the biceps of the upper back? A big pair of traps a like a cherry on top of a great build but adding trap bar training to your routine can open a new pathway to so much more.
Here this article will explain trap bar design, benefits, and six great trap bar exercises that aren’t deadlifts or shrugs.
Trap bars usually have two pairs of handles: One pair projects upward in a squared D shape from the bar called D handles and one pair that’s level with the bar. And the bar can be flipped over to make either pair available. The D handles shorten the range of motion needed to pick it up from the floor while the level ones lengthen it. The stubs (where the weight goes) on either side are at right angles to the handles.
The hex design of the trap bar combined with the stubs allows you to step inside the bar which aligns the weight more with your center of gravity. This is a godsend for lifters who have a history of low-back pain or those lifters looking to minimize their injury risk while still lifting heavy.
Besides making it easier to train your traps hard and heavy, there are a few important benefits of training with the trap bar over the barbell.
The neutral grip of the trap bar reduces the risk of biceps tears versus a mixed grip on a barbell. This allows you to go heavy without the risk of injury. Plus, the neutral grip is easier on the forearms and elbows versus a pronated or supinated grip, helping you build awesome grip strength too. The neutral grip is our strongest grip.
There is less shearing force on the spine because the axis of rotation is almost in-line with the weight on either side. This reduces the amount of shearing force on the spine which is great if your lower back is an issue.
The trap bar makes it easier to learn complex movements such as the deadlift and squat, over the barbell. As long as you keep a neutral spine doing trap bar squats and deadlifts, it’s very forgiving.
Trap bar deadlift and shrug variations are great but that’s not the only exercises you should be performing with a trap bar. Here are six trap bar exercises that deserve a spot in your routine for variety and gains.