T Nation

Trap Bar Deads for Tall Athletes


Is there an advantage to using trap bar deads for athletes over 6'5"? Just curious because many NCAA B-ball strength coaches are using trap bar deads in place of oly squats, with their big guys. Wouldn't you still want to bring a 6'8 guy up to 2.5x bodyweight ATG squat? Or is their a comparable amount of weight for a trap bar dead that would be equivalent?

  1. Why would a 6'8" basketball player need to have an 2.5xbodyweight full squat?

  2. I'd be interested to know if there is any NBA player of that height who does. Or any height for that matter.


To me, it's another alternative to inprove posterior chain strength. Unless there is a medical reason NOT to perform a lift, it should probably be phased in at some prescribed time. I put the trap bar up there with Good Mornings (seated and standing), multi-stance squats, box squats, deadlifts sumo, conventional and the oly variants.


Hey time out, machine! Everything I've read from Kelly Baggett states that an athlete should have at least a 1.5-2.5 bodyweight olympic squat. That's the limit strength necessary to become a static spring athlete. I am off here??

Jumanji, do you mind jumping in here with your thoughts?


If Kevin Garnett oly squats 550 pounds than I'm the queen of England.

You have to understand that when people give a generic qualification like 1.5-2.5 times bodyweight oly squat, that is what works for most people. Obviously a guy who's extremely tall is a different case. A 6'10" guy squatting 300 pounds might be putting out the same amount of force as a 5'8" guy squatting 500 pounds.


Ok, now we are getting somewhere. jtrinsey, how would you determine how much force you are exerting. Is there a formula to determine when a taller has achieved acceptable levels of limit strength for their lower body?


I'm 6'5" I thought about getting a trap bar for my home gym. Tried one at a fitness store, and found that my (freakishly) long legs got in the way. Be careful about the dimensions of the bar if you use one.

The movement reminded me of sumo deadlifts - you can keep your back pretty upright. Many taller guys have back problems (myself included). This could be a real advantage to the trap bar. I'm just sticking with the sumo deads for now.


OK, I have to be the nerd. The only way this would happen is if the tall guy accelerates the bar much faster than the smaller guy (F = m x a).

Now, if you want to say the taller guy does more work (W = F x d), I'm in agreement. He has to take the bar higher than the shorter guy for a complete lift.


I am about 6-4, 6-5 I think. I use the trap bar just because I feel like its easier to keep my back in the correct posture. When I use a regular bar my back ends up bending like crazy. my 2 cents


Man, I'm almost 6-5 and I have no back problems at all when squatting - could it be a hip/achilles flexibility issue causing your upper body to lurch forward like that?

The problem for the tall guys is that even ass to grass doesn't really nail the vastus medialis (the teardrop) all that well. I find I have to front squat or do "cyclist squats" (ultra narrow stance back squats) using a 2x4 to really nail'em.

Do you front squat at all? Those really force you to stay really upright.

However, trap bar squats sound intriguing - my gym has a trap bar, so maybe I'll give'em a go.


I think he was thinking more along the lines of Torque = force * distance
If the tall guy has long legs (not unlikely) he will be at a disadvantage for squating.

2.5x bodywieght squat is not reasonable for someone above 6'5 feet


Yeah, I was actually thinking more along the lines of torque, but I figured we'd leave the cross-products out of the strength sports forum haha...

In any case, trap bar deads are definitly a great exercise. In my opinion, they are the best glute exercise you can do. They aren't going to give you the back development that straight-bar deads will, but for somebody who struggles with grip/upper back strength, then trap bar deads can be great for hitting the glutes/hams hard while bringing up the grip and upper back strength and stability.


Is the ratio of trunk length to limb length the same for tall or short people?

I can imagine that if tall people have femurs that are disproportionately longer, then it would make it difficult for a tall person to get low in a squat without falling on his ass... assuming similar ankle flexibility.



A LEAST cannot be a range; or certainly a range that broad. For example, Dirk Nowitzki, @ 7' and 245lbs, would need a squat of around 612lbs for your 2.5xbw standard. I would pay a lot of money to see Dirk take that out of a monolift. Now, 1.5xbw for Dirk would make a about 368 squat. That sounds reasonable, but even 3 and a quarter ATG for a guy seven feet tall would be impressive in my book.

I echo MachineAZ... why would basketball players so tall need to squat ATG, let alone with 2.5xbw? Basketball has never been the most limit strength demanding sport. I think the problem here is that we are failing to see that a basketball rim is 10'. That is a constant. So while a guy 5'10" (like me) would need to be seriously explosive and powerful (unlike me) to dunk, a man like Dirk does not because he can almost dunk while standing still. So instead of focusing on his strength and athletic ability, he focuses on his jump shot. If only he could put some more focus on his defense.


You are 100% correct. Why on earth would being tall change your need for strength to improve static spring proficiency?



I'm gonna disagree and say three and a quarter is not impressive for anyone who weighs over 120 lbs, females being an exception. But yea, limit strength not that important for someone who's seven feet tall.


Wrong! Limit strength lays the foundation for all sporting movement. All the research indicates this.


No, I agree with you. I was trying to make a joke about basketball players squatting. Look guys, I am not arguing about science and theory here. I am just saying that looking at how D1 coaches train basketball players is probably not the most effective method of deciding how to train tall people. I agree being tall does not make you special. I am saying that strength training for bball playes is just GPP. It does not make them into who they are. It may make them better or worse, or more specifically better prepared physically to play the game, but it does not help their decision making, execution of plays, shooting touch, or rotating well on defense. That was why I used Dirk as an example, because he does those things well (except for the D) but is probably not the best athlete in terms of vertical jump, speed, power, etc. Summary of my bullshit: do not look at basketball players to learn how to train the tall. That would be like looking at gymnasts to learn how to train the short.

Anyway, trap bar pulls are great. So are squats and everything else. It all depends on your goals and limitations. I would argue that squats and pulls are not the best thing to make you a good basketball player, unless you have great skills and only lack the strength/speed/power. Did not mean to piss people off, sorry.


A 325 squat is impressive for someone with under a year of training, and weighs under 200 pounds. After a year though, I would expect a lot more. Being 7 feet tall changes everything, though.


I think you do not seem to understand the fact that a 7 foot tall guy squatting 325 pounds might be displaying quite a bit of limit strength. Additionally, limit strength is not always the most important consideration for all sporting endeavors. At a certain point, strength is no longer a limiting factor, other variables such as reactivity and rate of force development are more important.

Compare two guys: One is the natural "fast-twitch freak" athlete who has incredible posterior chain stiffness and outstanding rate of force development and one is the coach's son who spends all day squatting. The two may have the same vertical leap, but the "freak" can skip up into the air with 20 degrees of knee flexion while the weight room warrior bends practically to parellel while jumping. One of them is going to have a considerable advantage going for a rebound and it's not the guy who squats more.

I'm not saying that limit strength is not important (far from it!), but it is still only one component in athletic training.

BTW, this thread has been highjacked quite a bit... but to the original poster, I think trap-bar deads are FANTASTIC. I like oly squats in-season (all the jumping in practice is a lot of quarter-squatting so that full ROM is important) , but out of season I think that trap-bar and straight-bar deads should be the bulk of the ME lifting, especially for very tall athletes.