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John Gaglione's Post Season Wrestling Training # 5

Trap Bar Training for Size and Strength for Wrestlers


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The Trap Bar Deadlift

The trap bar is a great tool for wrestlers looking to build strength and increase their performance. It is also a great option for a home gym for someone who would like some variety from a straight bar since most trap bars are relatively inexpensive compared to a regular bar. The trap bar offers some unique benefits because of its design.  Trap bar exercise should be a staple movement in your off season program. It is a great tool to develop both strength and power for wrestling.

The neutral handles allow a very natural and shoulder friendly position for a variety of exercises, which is super important for wrestlers to help reduce their chance of injury.  The trap bar can also help reduce stress on the spine since the lifter get in a position where they are directly in the center of the bar. Wrestlersí backs are often sore from drilling and always being hunched over in their stance so this makes the trap bar a great tool for both in season and off season training.

When using the straight the weight has to be slightly in front of the body. This is certainly not a knock on straight bar training, but the trap bar has its advantages and disadvantages over the straight bar. The straight bar is little harder on the body so it is better used as a off season tool and the trap bar also has a lower learning curve, which makes it a perfect entry level barbell lift for beginners.

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The trap bar deadlift is the most popular and common use of the trap bar. The trap bar deadlift has been advocated by many strength and conditioning programs and fitness professional as  their main lift for build, leg, hip and back strength. It is a very basic exercise to teach for beginners and can be loaded quite heavily as well make it a great choice for building size and strength.

 As stated before the learning curve is slighter easier than a straight bar because the lifter can position themselves directly in line with the weight allowing a more advantageous position to lift from. The trap bar is also great since the neutral handles allow the shoulder to be in a comfortable position. With straight bar deadlifts most people need to go with an over/under grip, which isnít the most natural position for the shoulders. This isnít to say we donít perform straight bar deadlifts in our program, but if I had to pick one (especially for beginners) it would be the trap bar.

Low Handle Trap Bar

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Many trap bar models offer a high and low handle setting. If a trap bar doesnít have multiple grip option the lifter can also stand on small boxes to create a lower set up. The lower the handles the more he knees and ankles will need to move making the trap bar deadlift more similar to the mechanics of a squat. I prefer the high handle setting for deadlifting since the athlete can sit back more and place a greater emphasis on the posterior chain.  The low setting can also be difficult to maintain form if there are any limitation in hip or ankle mobility as well as core strength. The low setting is a good option for athletes who may have limitation whether it is a shoulder or low back problem and they still want to do some heavy bilateral lifting to strength their legs, back and hips in place of barbell squatting.

Trap Bar Jumps

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Trap bar jumps are a fantastic exercise to build some explosive strength using the trap bar. This exercise will help wrestlers have more explosive takedowns, stand ups and mat returns. This is also a great alternative to a traditional jump squat. The trap bar will be easier on the shoulders than when doing a traditional jump squat with the bar. This exercise can be done for more reactive ability by doing continuous jumps or can help improve starting strength by starting each jump from a dead stop.

Trap bar Exercises for Core and Grip

Farmerís Walk
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The trap bar can be loaded up very heavy and can be used for farmerís walks when traditional farmerís handles are not available. This is a better option for farmerís walks than dumbbells, but not quite as good as regular handles. This is especially true if your gym doesnít have heavy dumbbells. It doesnít train the grip and balance the same way traditional handles do, but allows the lifter to go very heavy and still train this event. Loaded carries are great for core strength, grip strength, and overall conditioning, which are all critical elements to wrestling. This exercise can be done for time or distance. I recommend walking slightly slowly than normal so the lifter doesnít bang their shins on the front handles when utilizing this variation.

Suitcase Holds
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Suitcase holds are great way to train the obliques and the grip. This can be done for time or the lifter can perform suitcase deadlifts for reps or do an unbalanced farmers walk. Core training is important for wrestling since they need to have strong stable abs in order to control their posture. To get the most out of this movement you want to really try to resist any side bending to get the maximum core stability effect.

So remember trap bars are not just for deadlifts! They can be used for a number of other exercises to help improve your performance on the mat. These trap bar exercises are going to help you build a stronger grip, strong legs, and a rock solid core. These would be great options for both in season and off season training for wrestling since the trap bar is a little more shoulder and back friendly than the straight bar. Stay tuned for more awesome exercises with the trap bar!


Educate, Motivate, Dominate
Coach Gaglione

 If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at gaglionestrength@gmail.com or check out my website www.gaglionestrength.com

To take your wrestling to the next level and ensure this coming wrestling season is your best one ever go to GaglioneStrength.com and e-mail Coach Gaglione for more information on wrestling training.

 Coach John Gaglione is a Sport Performance Specialist out of Long Island New York. He is a certified "Underground" Strength coach who specializes in training combat athletes. Johnís work has been featured in Elite Fitness Systems, Testosterone Nation , One Result & local wrestling site Long Island Wrestling Association. If you would like to learn more about John you can reach him at www.gaglionestrength.com or e-mail him at gaglionestrength@gmail.com.