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The trap bar or hex bar is a specialty barbell that allows you to do various exercises without strain on your body. Many use trap bars for deadlifts, but there are several other trap bar exercises that you can take advantage of in your quest to reach your fitness goals.
We discussed and highlighted some of the best trap bars on the market in an earlier article.
If you are wondering whether to get a trap bar for your gym, but are not sure how best to fully utilize it, then read on to know more about the best trap bar exercises for your strength training regimen.
Best trap bar exercises for building strength and muscles
You have likely seen a trap bar in your gym and might have even used it for deadlifts if you are a frequent gym goer. But aside from deadlift, you can use the trap bar for other pressing and row exercises.
The following are some of the best trap bar exercises that can help build strength and muscle in your upper and lower body. Incorporate these into your training regimen to give you variety.
Trap Bar Deadlift
The first movement that comes into the minds of many lifters when you mention trap bar exercises is the trap bar deadlift.
Deadlifts are very popular in professional and performing sports. You can use deadlifts to target and train different joints and muscle groups.
The deadlift trap bar exercises put less strain on your lower back. It can help train your glutes, legs, and other lower body muscles as effectively, if not better than the conventional deadlift.
Unlike the traditional deadlift, the trap bar deadlift is easy to master, making it accessible to those with little time at their disposal.
Traditional deadlifts with a straight bar tend to shift the weight from your back into your quads. Using a trap bar for the exercises helps you to avoid that. A trap bar distributes the weight around your body. That helps to reduce the risk of injuries.
Trap bar deadlifts do not concentrate all the load on your lower back as with a straight barbell.
The deadlift trap bar exercises require you to keep a flat back during the movement. That allows the body to shift the load to other muscles. And because you bend your knees forward as you lift and lower the bar, your quads, not your lower back, take some of the load.
Of course, you must master how to align your body and engage your core. Thus, you must have a strong core and knee joints to do the upward and downward movements.
Trap bar deadlifts are great alternatives to traditional deadlifts. They target and build your hamstrings, glutes, and back without stressing your lumber spine.
They are technically less proficient than straight barbell deadlifts, making them much easier to learn. You can also change your position to shift the focus of the trap bar exercises onto your quads or glutes.
Benefits of the deadlift trap bar exercises
- They are easy to master, making them suitable for beginner and seasonal lifters.
- You can lift a much higher weight than you would with a straight bar.
- You can easily hit your shin with the bar when using a straight bar for the exercises. That is not possible with a trap bar.
- A neutral grip on the trap bar puts less stress on your joints, lower back, hips, and shoulders, leading to lower injuries.
- It allows you to shift emphasis onto a particular group of muscles to help you get better results.
- They are straightforward to do and do not require you to have good posture and balance as the straight bar.
Trap Bar Farmer’s Walks
The trap bar farmer’s walk, or the trap bar farmer’s carry, does not attract much attention as other strength training exercises. But it is one of the best trap bar exercises for targeting and training your traps, back, core and hips. It can also help your grip capabilities. Your arms and abs get activated as well.
It is one of the trap bar exercises that forces you to stabilize your upper back, core, and hips under enormous weight.
It is a whole-body exercise that can help you build strength and stamina. It can prepare you for many daily activities and chores, including carrying heavy shopping, bags, etc.
If you are a builder or delivery personnel for example, or your work involves moving and shifting heavy loads and items, the farmer’s walk can prepare you well for that.
Benefits of the farmer’s walk trap bar exercises
- The trap bar exercises require you to walk with your back straight, core tight, and hips square. That can help improve your posture.
- It forces your rotator cuffs to work harder to keep your shoulders in position, helping to build shoulder strength.
- It is a great way to build grip strength, and thereby improve your health and safety, especially as you grow older (1)
Start the farmer’s walk trap bar exercises with a lighter weight and build on from there. To make the movements less boring, challenge yourself with different weights and loads, and increase the time and distance as you gain more strength.
Trap Bar Jump Squat
One of the exercises many athletes and those in performance sports do as part of their training are plyometric exercises. The exercises help them to build explosive strength and speed.
Plyometric moves involve the stretching of muscles, followed immediately by contracting the same muscles. Barbell jump squats are some of the best exercises for that.
While barbell jump squats may seem very simple – put a weighted barbell on your back and jump – you could end up with the bar hitting your back or causing injury to your spine and knees.
The solution? Use a trap bar, instead of a loaded barbell.
Jump squat trap bar exercises can help you build explosive power without the risk you get with weighted jumps.
With a trap bar, you can unload after the jump to take the weight off your spine, allowing you to land safely without any cause for concern.
To make the movement less demanding and the bar easy to lift, try to keep the load light. That will also help keep your balance. Wearing a tight belt may help if you decide to go heavy on the load.
The most important thing to keep in mind is the goal of the jump squat trap bar exercises – to build explosive power. Using a lighter weight will still help you to achieve the results you are looking for.
Benefits of the jump squat trap bar exercises
- They help reduce injury to your back, spine, and knees as you do not land with the weight bearing on your body.
- They are a great way to build explosive strength and speed, especially in your lower body.
- They can help improve your jumping and landing capabilities
- They can help boost your overall energy and strength
- You are in an upright position when doing the trap bar jump squats. That will utilize your legs much more than with the barbell deadlift. The result is a boost in your jumping energy and power.
Trap Bar Shrugs
Trap bar shrugs are easy to master. They are worth considering if you are looking for an easy route to build mass in your traps. They are much easier to learn compared with using a barbell for the same exercises.
The position of the hex bar around your body increases the angle of your movement compared to what a straight barbell gives you. That enables you to push and pull your shoulders as far as possible without any limitation. You cannot do that with a straight barbell.
The trap bar, arms, and traps move in the same direction. That reduces the weight transfer to your stabilizers. That makes it possible for you to squeeze your traps, forcing the trap bar to move with your traps.
You grasp the bar using a pronated grip when doing barbell shrugs. That makes it difficult to activate your lower traps. That does not happen with the neutral grip on the trap bar.
Benefits of the shrugs trap bar exercises
- They are a great way to strengthen your neck muscles, which can help improve your posture.
- The movements are very friendly to your shoulders. The neutral grip reduces the amount of pressure on your anterior shoulder joints
- They are easy to learn. Both beginners and experienced lifters can master the movement very quickly.
- You can go with a much heavier weight than with a straight barbell.
Add the shrugs trap bar exercises to your workout to help build your upper traps and strengthen your neck.
Trap Bar Shoulder Press
The overhead press is one of the best exercises for targeting and building your shoulders. It can also work your traps and triceps. Using a barbell for the overhead press can make any joint pains in your shoulders worse.
A multi-grip swiss bar may be the best alternative for the shoulder press exercise instead of a barbell.
But using a trap bar with a neutral grip can also be a good alternative, even though many lifters associate the trap bar with lower body exercises. The angle of the handle makes it a good and safe alternative to the barbell press. You, however, need to find ways to rack it to help get it into position for the exercise.
The overhead press trap bar exercises can help reduce the tension in your shoulders. Thus it can benefit those with shoulder problems.
Holding the bar over your head forces you to utilize the muscles in your shoulder girdle and shoulder joints to help you keep the trap bar stable.
Trap Bar Bent Over Rows
A trab bar may not be the best for rows, but it is still an option to help target your back muscles, especially if you have shoulder problems.
Th neural hand placement of your arms, when using a trap bar for rows, can help reduce stress on your shoulders.
The trap bar rows uses more of a hoziaontal pull than a vertical pull to target the traps, while reducing the involvement of the rhomboids. You may have to experiment with the head position to help you find the best option that works for you.
Because the handles are elevated on a trap bar, using it for bent over rows puts less stress on your lower back as you do not have to hinge as far as you do with a barbell.
The wider grip on the trap bar makes it possible to load more weight than you would on a straight barbell, helping you to challenge your traps, biceps, forearms, and lats.
The bent over row with a trap bar does not put much stress on your back, while the neutral grip reduces strain on your elbows. It also allows you to target your muscles from angles that would notmally not be possible with a straight barbell.
Include the bent over row trap bar exercises in your workout to open up more possiblities for your training
Trap Bar Suitcase Carry
The suitcase carry is a great way to build your ore muscles. Like the farmer’s walk, you walk for a distance with a heavy load. But unlike the farmer’s walk you use one hand at a time.
The trap bar suitcase carry uses a trap with some weight loaded, making it very challenging, as you must find ways to counterbalance the swaying of the bar.
Benefits of the suitcase carry trap bar exercises
- The suitcase carry trap bar exercises makes it possible to carry heavier weights than you would with a dumbbell. That gives you the opportunity to build more strength and mass.
- It is an effective way to build your grip power.
- Carry tho load on one side at a time allows you to put more focus on your weaker side, if necessary.
- It can prepare you for more strenuous and other exercises, like pull-ups, chin ups and deadlifts
Trap Bar Incline Push Ups
The trap bar incline push ups put your body in an elevated position while doing the push-up exercises. They are bodyweight trap bar exercises for building upper body strength.
Traditional push-ups can help you to target your chest muscles while engaging your core.
Elevating your body on a trap bar, while holding the bar with a neutral grip, reduces the pressure on your shoulders and arms, helping you to target your chest muscles much better.
The incline push ups are a good way to add variety to your training. They also help reduce pressure on your upper-body joints
Trap Bar Inverted Row
Inverted rows are an effective way to increase shoulder, arm, and back strength.
Putting your body in an incline position for the movement requires lots of muscle strength, making it a highly challenging exercise for building upper body muscles.
But holding onto the trap bar in the inverted row makes it much easier to perform the exercises.
The horizontal position of your body when doing the inverted row trap bar exercises makes it possible to target your back muscles from different angles, helping to improve scapular retraction.
Benefits of the inverted row trap bar exercises
- It is easy to master, making it suitable for both beginners and seasoned athletes.
- It can help you to target your arm muscles much more than pull-ups.
- Unlike traditional pull-ups that do not require much lower body effort, you need to engage your hamstrings and glutes for the inverted row. That will help strengthen and build your lower body, in addition to your upper body.
- It can target your rhomboid muscles and improve scapular retraction.
Add the inverted row trap bar exercises to your training, as part of your warm-ups, as a stand-alone upper-body workout.
Trap Bar Floor Press
You can perform the floor press in many ways and with different equipment. Using a trap bar is one way available to you.
The width of the trap bar handles, combined with the neutral grip required to hold the trap bar, makes it possible to target your tricep and chest muscles without putting pressure on your shoulders.
It allows you to load more weight than would normally be possible with a straight barbell. That can help you to build extra muscles and strength.
The floor press trap bar exercises are an interesting alternative to the classic floor presses. Add them to your training to give you variety and to help mix things up.
Final words from LiveLIfe
Trap bar exercises open the door for you to push your workouts to different levels and target many muscles from different angles. They can force your body to do some movements differently for better results.
If you are not achieving your intended fitness goals, have hit a plateau, or are bored doing the same movements over and over, try these trap bar exercises. They would be fun, and the results could be astonishing
- Christina Musalek and Sylvia Kirchengast. 2017. Grip Strength as an Indicator of Health-Related Quality of Life in Old Age-A Pilot Study. National Library of Medicine
- Borreani S, et al. (2015). Muscle activation during push-ups performed under stable and unstable conditions.
- Incline push-up. (n.d.).