Trap Bar Deadlift

How To Do A Trap Bar Deadlift
By Alli McKeeFebruary 19, 2016

Video Transcription: 

Now I am going to demonstrate a trap bar deadlift. A trap bar deadlift is a fantastic exercise that you can do to transition from learning how to just hinge to doing a barbell deadlift. This is the trap bar set up. I like to use the high handles, I am pretty tall so It puts me in a little bit better position. You put the weights on and - really important - you are going to make sure you put clips on either side. And clips comes in all variations and sizes but it's important to make sure it is nice and tight. If you lift the weights up a little off kilter you don't want the weights to slide off.

Just like I showed you in the broomstick RDL video and the kettlebell deadlift video, you are going to set up exactly the same, except the feet will be a little narrower when you are doing a trap bar deadlift. If you are out here, when you go to lift the bar it will either hit you in your leg or cause your knees to cave a little bit. Feet are right in line with the hip bones, you are going to brace your core.  So I am going to take a breath in, blow my air out hard, get my rib cage down and fill up with air again. It is important that you fill up with air again, you do not want to lift a heavy weight with all of your air blown out. We blow the air out simply to get your rib cage and core set in the right position. Deep breath in through your nose, blow all of your air out through your mouth with a hard exhale, then you are going to breath in again and fill up circumferentially.  You don't just want to fill up in the front, you want to fill up 360 degrees, so all the way around. After I do that I am going to push back into my hips and when I run out of room, just as I did here, I am going to squat down to the bar and grab the handles right in the middle. I want to maintain this nice neutral spine the whole time.

So I do my breath, blow out, breathe in again, push back into the hips until I run out of space then I am going to squat down while continuing to push back into my hips. You don't want to just drop your butt down all the way. After you do that you are going to grab right in the middle of handles and stay nice and tight. You are going to think about pulling the weight back. It is very important not to think about lifting it out but instead pulling it back. Now I am going to demonstrate. Big breath in, air out, breathe in again and fill up with air, push back into my hips, when I run out of space I am going to squat down, grab the handles in the middle, create tension on the bar and stand up. reverse the motion to put it back down, Let it sit there for a second, come up.

It is really important to make sure that you don't jerk the weight off the bar. The best kind of description I have of this: if you were to go tubing on a lake the boat would not all of a sudden jerk you.  You would get a little bit of tension on the rope first,  then the boat will take off to pull you on the tube so the same thing. You are going to get some tension in your arms, tighten your lats. One good cue for that is to protect your armpits, as if someone was going to tickle you under your armpit. Tighten your lats and then pull. I am going to do a couple more reps for you. Big breath in, air out, fill up with air, push back, squat down while continuing to push back, tighten my lats, stand up. I am going to turn around so I can show you from the side. Same thing different angle, big breath in, blow your air out - it’s just to get your rib cage set - big breath in, push back into my hips when I run out of space, squat down while still pushing back, grab the weight, tighten my lats, stand up. That’s the trap bar deadlift.


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About the author:  Alli McKee

Alli is a certified strength and conditioning specialist. She's contributed to and modeled for a number of major publications including Oxygen magazine and the New Rules of Lifting: Supercharged. You can find out more about Alli on her personal blog at

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