Squats and deadlifts are generally considered two of the best lower body and strength exercises you can do. However, they both have their drawbacks. They can be difficult to learn, you have to choose which style of each you’re going to do, and letting your technique break on either and easily lead to injury. However, trap bar deadlifts could solve all those problems and more.
Because of trap bar deadlifts’ movement execution, they’re often considered a hybrid between a squat and a deadlift. The lower portion of the movement mimics a squat, overloading the hips and legs. However, the top half of the movement then mimics a straight bar deadlift, overloading the upper back and posterior chain. This can give you a sort of “best of both worlds”.
Proper straight bar deadlift form can take a while to perfect. Then even when you do have it down pat, excessive fatigue can cause even veteran lifters to break form. However, with trap bar deadlifts, getting your technique correct is much easier.
Step into the bar, bend at the knees/hips, and grab the bar with your head up and back straight. At this point, act as if you were just trying to jump as hard/high as you can while holding onto the bar. You won’t actually jump off the ground, but the natural movement pattern you’d engage in to jump is going to have you getting your technique for trap bar deadlifts right almost every time.
Since trap bar deadlifts do allow you to take advantage of the best parts of both the squat and deadlift, and since proper form is much easier to learn and perfect, you can generally go much heavier, much faster. Being able to use more weight means more strength is built throughout the legs and entire posterior chain on a much shorter timeline than if you had to rely on progressing on both squats and straight bar deadlifts.
Because you’re able to stand “inside” a trap bar, you’re able to fully pull along your center-line. This is better than a straight bar deadlift, which makes you always pull with the far out in front of you. This improved leverage not only allows you to use more weight, but is much safer as a whole for your lower back.
Not only are you less likely to strain your lower back while lifting, but trap bar deadlifts aren’t nearly as likely to result in any sort of spinal compression like can happen with squats since you don’t have the weight on your shoulders. There’s also minimal chance of sustaining any sort of knee injury which can be an inherent risk with squats, too.
While not overly popular, trap bar deadlifts are one of the best and most well-rounded exercises you can do. A hybrid that gives you the best characteristics of both a squat and and a deadlift, you can use them to build great strength and a lot of lower body size while saving the lower back. Focus on trying to “jump” with each rep, and you’ll get movement execution almost perfect from the very beginning, too.