Trap bar

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Rendering of a trap bar

The trap bar is an implement used in weight training. It is an assemblage of bars welded into a shape which lies flat in a plane, consisting of:

  1. A barstock welded into a hexagonal shape, sized to allow a human to stand in the middle
  2. Two (almost always) coaxial stub bars, welded to opposing positions on the outside of the perimeter of the hollow portion
  3. A set of handles pointing forward and back, welded inside the hollow portion.

The trapbar was invented, patented and trademarked by Al Gerard, a competitive powerlifter. It is named after the (upper fibres of the) trapezius muscles, the muscle it was designed to train, with shoulder shrugs.

The stubs are used for loading the trapbar with plates. The handles are used to hold the trapbar while an exercise is performed. Note that these handles are aligned at 90 degrees to the plate-loading bars.

In addition to shrugs the bar is also used for trapbar deadlift overhead/military presses, upright rows or "high pulls," and stiff leg deadlifts.

The trapbars use in shrugs is promoted by Paul Kelso, in his book Kelso's Shrug Book (2002). However, there is also an entire chapter in the book on training with the trapbar for competitive deadlifting. The advantage with deadlifts is that there is no risk of the bar hitting the front of the legs. The grip is also different, targeting the shoulder and arms differently. However, if not mastered with proper form it can be much riskier and cause more injuries than the straight bar deadlift.[1] The advantage with shrugs is for the same reason, as the traps can be targeted directly against gravity, rather than the angle necessitated by the impossibility of having a shrugging bar directly below the body.

Variants are produced by several vendors.

Proponents of trapbar deadlifts include Jason Ferruggia, Hardgainer magazine, Bob Whelan, the Cyberpump website, and Ken Leistner.[citation needed]


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