The Trap Bar or shrug bar deadlift

10.53 If you cannot squat safely and productively using a barbell, and do not have access to a Tru-Squat or a good leg press machine, what are you going to do? Try the Trap Bar deadlift.

10.54 ^e Trap Bar deadlift is not just an alternative to the barbell squat. It is an outstanding exercise in its own right. Some form of deadlifting should be part of every program. But it need not be the Trap Bar (bent-legged) deadlift. It could be the stiff-legged deadlift with either a straight bar or Trap Bar, or it could be the sumo deadlift with a straight bar, the conventional deadlift with a straight bar, or the partial deadlift. (You may find the sumo deadlift a safer and more productive exercise than the straight-bar conventional deadlift, if no Trap Bar is available.) For bent-legged deadlifting, the Trap Bar deadlift is a superb option—it intensively works a great deal of musculature and reduces strain on the lower back. Because it so heavily involves the thighs, it could even be called a Trap Bar squatlift. If, however, you need to use a relatively wide stance (perhaps for knee comfort or care), you may not be able to use the regular Trap Bar safely, because the fixed gripping sites restrict stance width. A custom bar (trap bar or shrug bar) would be needed, with wider gripping sites.

10.55 While barbell squatting can be done in almost any gym, the Trap Bar dead-lift requires a special rhombus-shaped bar, which few gyms have despite it costing no more than $200. ^e Trap Bar should be a required piece of equipment for all gyms. It is a wonderful training tool, and far more valuable and less expensive than many pieces of equipment that most gyms consider to be essential, but which in reality are either useless, downright harmful, or only marginally useful at best.

^e Trap Bar is not only terrific for many people who do not squat well with a bar over their traps. It can also be terrific for people who do squat well, but perhaps do not straight-bar deadlift well. However, depending on your leverages, the Trap Bar deadlift may not work your lower back adequately enough by itself. Stiff-legged or partial deadlifts may be needed too. And strength built by the Trap Bar may not necessarily carry over to the straight-bar dead-lift, depending on the individual.

10.56 Very few people have experienced the tremendous benefits of the Trap Bar deadlift. ^is is purely because the exercise is a recent innovation and Trap Bars are so few and far between.

10.57 ^e Trap Bar deadlift is the equal of the squat for many hard gainers. And for some trainees it can be a more productive exercise. In fact, it has the potential to be the number one productive exercise for many hard gainers.

10.58 It is imperative that you know how to deadlift safely and correctly in all its important variations. Otherwise you will get hurt and never be able to profit from the deadlift. See the insider's tell-all handbook on weight-training technique for how to perform all the important variations of the deadlift.

10.59 Easy gainers often have a "squatter's body"—a mesomorphic structure with legs and arms that are short relative to torso length. (^is barrel-chested

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torso structure is also highly suited to bench pressing.) Hard gainers often have a "deadlifter's body"—legs and arms that are long relative to torso length. Hard gainers do not have the mesomorphic structure that is usually associated with a body that is very responsive to training, but some hard gainers have the structural proportions that are suited to efficient deadlift-ing.

10.60 In any type of bent-legged deadlift with a Trap Bar there are some big advantages relative to the squat:

a. ^e bar is held beneath the body rather than precariously near the top of the spine as in the squat, and thus there is no bar bearing down on you.

b. Good form is easier to maintain because the deadlift is technically less demanding than the squat.

c. Spotters are not needed.

d. No squat stands, power rack or safety bars are needed.

e. ^e exercise is easily done from a dead stop at the bottom.

10.61 When comparing the same degree of descent of the hips you may even find that the Trap Bar deadlift works your thighs more than the squat. It is not necessary to descend in the Trap Bar deadlift until your thighs are parallel to the ground in order to mimic the effect on the thighs of the parallel squat. ^e effect on the thighs from the parallel squat can be produced from Trap Bar deadlifting from above the thighs-parallel-to-the-ground bottom position. (Some people, because of their body structure, do not get much thigh development from the parallel squat.)

10.62 I knew most of the benefits of the Trap Bar in theory, for years, but only when I actually used the rhombus-shaped gem did all those benefits become real. Designed by a man who was plagued with back problems (Al Gerard), it is tailor-made for hard gainers who do not squat as efficiently as they deadlift.

10.63 ^e Trap Bar will benefit any type of gainer. It reduces spine stress relative to that from a straight-bar deadlift, puts the arms into a more efficient position, and enables users to get the best from the deadlift while minimizing technique problems.

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