Home Posts tagged "Hex Bar Deadlift"

Lose Fat, Gain Muscle, Get Strong, and Laugh a Little – Installment 5

I haven't published much strength and conditioning randomness of late, so here goes. 1. Here's a research study that demonstrates relationships among a variety of scheduling and recovery factors and injury rates.  The part I found most interesting was that researchers observed that sleeping fewer than six hours the night prior to a competition led to a significant increase in fatigue related injuries. Additionally, while it wasn't specifically observed in the study, my anecdotal observations are that kids who play 14 games in a weekend are more likely to hate their sports, have too many insignificant trophies, and live in their parents' basement until age 35 because they have a weird sense of entitlement and absolutely no idea how to interact on a social level with anyone who isn't on their AAU teams. 2. Speaking of young athletes, interval training works better for them, too.  There's absolutely no reason for a young soccer player to be running miles and miles at a steady-state.  Kids need to get strong and learn to run fast before they try to run fast for a long time.  Interval training is a nice "bridge" between the two when applied correctly during the off-season period.

3. Here's an excellent study with a biomechanical analysis of the hex/trap bar deadlift technique as compared to the conventional deadlift technique.  It backs up a lot of the comments I made last month with my deadlift series from last month, which you can find at the following links: How to Deadlift: Which Variation is Right for You? - Part 1 (Conventional Deadlift) How to Deadlift: Which Variation is Right for You? - Part 2 (Sumo Deadlift) How to Deadlift: Which Variation is Right for You? - Part 3 (Trap Bar Deadlift) 4. Here's an interesting article in Radiology Today about the use of MRI in college athletes as a pre-screening tool - and potentially even an aid in optimizing strength and conditioning programs. Because a lot of the observations on MRI may be "subclinical" (meaning they are findings that occur without the presence of symptoms), there may be merit (albeit at a big cost) to using screens like this as part of an initial (or on the fly) evaluation of an athlete to dictate a training or "prehab" program.  For instance, observing a subclinical patellar tendinopathy may mean you do more soft tissue work around the knee and more heavily emphasize glute activation and minimize quad dominant squatting (among other things) to keep that tendon from reaching a symptomatic threshold. There are, of course, some significant drawbacks.  For starters, MRIs are expensive and time consuming, so not everyone could get them.  How do you decide who deserves it - especially in the era of Title IX?

Second, you're assuming that strength and conditioning coaches are qualified and capable to organize programs around what's found on a radiology report.  Generally speaking, there isn't a ton of individualization in collegiate strength and conditioning because coaches have so many athletes assigned to them and it isn't feasible.  It makes me wonder if you could prevent more injuries if you simply hired 3-4 more strength and conditioning coaches for what it would cost you to get an extra radiologist and imaging technician. Third, and perhaps most importantly, there are a lot of "false positives" on MRI.  I've written about this quite in the past and covered it in our Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD set, but you are headed down a very slippery slope when you start treating the image rather than the athlete.  In other words, how one moves and feels is far more important than how one's MRI looks.  I can guarantee you that the overwhelming majority of my overhead throwing athletes have labral fraying, partial thickness supraspinatus tears, and a host of other "normal" findings for this population.  If I immediately contraindicated a ton of exercises in my program because I knew this, I'd likely be setting them back with regressions in their programming when they actually needed progressions. What are your thoughts on this final issue?  If you had the resources, would you MRI every athlete in a college athletic program?  How would you pick which region to MRI? Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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How to Deadlift: Which Variation is Right for You? – Part 3 (Trap Bar Deadlift)

Today marks the third and final installment of this series on which deadlift variation is right for you.  Part 1 focused on the Conventional Deadlift, while Part 2 covered the Sumo Deadlift.  Today, we'll talk about another fantastic option: the Trap (or Hex) Bar Deadlift.

At Cressey Performance, we use the trap bar for all our initial deadlift technique instruction with new clients, as it tends to be a very safe option for just about everyone.

Because the handles are to the sides (instead of in front) of the lifter, it doesn't take as much hip and ankle mobility to get down to the bar.  Most trap bars also come with two handle settings - one of which is a little bit higher so that those with limited mobility can still get down to deadlift with a neutral spine.  So, it saves you the time and annoyance of having to put the plates on top of some sort of riser to elevate the bar.

Additionally, because the lifter is positioned "inside" the bar, the load is horizontally closer to with his center of gravity (COG), whereas the resistance is usually more anterior to that COG on a conventional or sumo deadlift. Note the white line in this photo that depicts the position of the load relative to the hip - and imagine how it would be a few inches further to the left in a conventional or sumo deadlift.

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As a result, there is less shear stress on the spine and presumably more compressive stress.  Our spines generally handle compression much better than shear, so this simple repositioning of the resistance closer to the axis of rotation (hips) can dramatically improve "comfort" during deadlifts in those with a history of back pain (or those who are looking to avoid it).  You'll often see lifters who try to go right back to conventional deadlifting after lower back pain and wind up with recurring symptoms.  They'd be much better of transitioning with some trap bar deadlifts to "test the waters."

The only problems I see with trap bar deadlifts are pretty subtle ones - and both have to do with the fact that the bar really never comes in contact with the legs on the way up or down.  As a result, there is a tendency is novice lifters to try to squat the weight up and down - and this is not what should be taking place; it's a deadlift - which means "hips forward, hips back."  This first common problem can be quickly corrected by simply teaching the movement correctly with a good hip hinge.

The second concern would be those in significant posterior pelvic tilt who have lost the lordotic curve of the lumbar spine.  When one gets to lockout on a conventional or sumo deadlift, we cue them to activate the glutes and "hump the bar" to complete the movement.  In those with posterior pelvic tilt, that same movement to finish hip extension without the presence of a bar to stop them will often lead to them going into full posterior pelvic tilt and lumbar flexion under load in the upright position.  In other words, the hips come through too far.  This is another problem that can be easily fixed with cueing on when the hip extension should end, and what the upright position should look and feel like.

A lot of those reading this piece may not have access to a trap bar for performing this strength exercise, but to be honest, I can say without wavering that for most people, it's well worth purchasing. You can pick one up HERE for just $169.  And, this bar is actually surprising versatile addition to a strength and conditioning program relative to what people think; you can do deadlifts with it, but also farmer's walks, overhead presses, and (if it's your thing) shrugs.

To see how all the deadlift variations fit into a comprehensive strength and conditioning program, check out The High Performance Handbook.

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