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John Gaglione's Post Season Wrestling Training # 6

The Trap Bar for Shoulder Friendly Upper Body Strength for Wrestling


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The trap bar deadlift is the most popular and common use of the trap bar, but that doesnít mean the trap bar isnít a great tool for training the upper body as well. The trap bar is known for performing shrugs, but that is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to building upper body strength for wrestlers.  It is important to develop pulling strength and power for both the lower AND upper body for wrestling. The trap barís unique design allows you to do just that!

The trap bar allows for a neutral grip which is very easy on the shoulderís which makes it a perfect choice for wrestlers during both in season and off season training. The trap bar can also reduce the stress on the low back since the lifters can center themselves inside the bar. The trap bar can be used for many types of rowing, pulling, and pushing variation to help take your wrestling training to the next level.


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 Another common use of the trap bar is for shrugs. The trap bar allows the lifter to hold a lot of weight in a shoulder friendly position without the use of lifting straps or use of over/under grip. This is a great way to build size in the traps for anyone training for aesthetic reasons. When done for high reps it is also a great grip exercise as well. Any types of high rep exercise, especially pulling exercises, are a great way to develop grip strength and endurance for wrestling. Just be sure to NOT roll the shoulder forward or backward during the movement. Stay in good posture throughout and come straight up and straight down when performing the movement.


Trap Bar for Upper Body Pulling and Pushing Strength

Trap Bar Rows

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Rowing with the trap bar is one of my favorite uses for the bar. Bent over rows can be very hard on the low back and grip when done very heavy, so by utilizing the trap bar the lifter can reduce the stress on the low back and hold big loads without using straps. Bent over rows can also be difficult for larger lifter with big bellies since they canít get a full range of motion. The trap bar allows the arms and shoulder to move freely and eliminate this problem.

 My favorite variation of this exercise is to do these dead stop every rep as if you were performing a ďpendlayĒ row with a straight bar. This will improve starting strength for the pulling muscles and allow the lifter to go very heavy in a controlled fashion. This is a great exercise to develop starting strength. Starting strength is necessary for lifting your opponentís leg in from a static position or lifting them off of the ground during freestyle techniques as well.

Neutral Grip Pull Ups

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Pull ups are one of the best overall exercises for strength and performance. Many gyms donít have awesome collegiate racks from Elite Fitness Systems with monkey chin bar so neutral grip pull ups arenít always an option. By putting the trap bar in a power rack any home gym lifter can perform neutral grip pull ups. This grip seems to be the most shoulder friendly, but still allow all of the benefits of traditional chins. This bar also allows a true vertical pull since there is no bar for the lifter to have to travel around to get a complete contraction.  This allows the lifter to keep the neck more in a natural alignment when performing pull ups. Pull up variations are some of the best exercises to build overall back strength. The neutral grip makes it very shoulder friendly to help keep stress off of that joint for in season training.

Neutral Grip Inverted Rows

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Inverted rows are another great way to train the upper back and lats. Traditional straight bar inverted rows can be tough of some peopleís shoulders and the trap bar allows for the shoulder friendly neutral grip. Blast straps or other suspension trainer devices are the best way to do this, but if you donít have access to them you can put the trap bar in a rack at a low to moderate height to perform them. , This can be done with the legs bent, straight, or feet elevated to modify the difficulty level of the exercise. All pulling exercises are crucial for wrestling and inverted rows are a great exercise to help balance out all of the push ups most wrestlers do at practice.

Neutral Grip Push Ups

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The lifter can place the trap bar on the floor with no weight to create a neutral grip push up station. This grip can help take stress of the wrists and also allow bigger lifter to get a better range of motion. Bands and chains can be added for external resistance as well as elevating the feet.  This is a great option when push up handles are not available. Wrists and shoulders are often banged up during wrestling season so this is a great option for all grapplers.

Halo Neutral Grip Overhead Press

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The trap bar can be utilized as an overhead pressing device. You can set these up in a power rack on a pin setting or have you partner help get the bar in position. The trap bar allows the lifter to get a true vertical press since the lifter doesnít need to press the bar around their neck and face like a traditional overhead press with a straight bar. This allows for a more natural overhead pressing motion. The only downside to this exercise is getting in proper position so I recommend lifters stick to high reps with this exercise.  The overhead press is a ground based lift that will strengthen the upper body and the core, which makes it a great lift for wrestlers.

So remember trap bars are not just for deadlifts! They can be used for a number of upper body exercises to help improve your strength and performance on the mat. These trap bar exercises are going to help you build a stronger grip, strong pushing and pulling muscles, and a rock solid core. These exercises 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.


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.