T Nation

Trap Bar OHP


#1

I read an article that mentioned overhead pressing with a trap bar, does anyone here do it? It makes sense - neutral grip and you don't need to move your head out of the way. What are the disadvantages?


#2

I’ve had the same idea. I found the instability that comes with pressing with the trap bar a bit of an issue personally.


#3

[quote]dagill2 wrote:
I’ve had the same idea. I found the instability that comes with pressing with the trap bar a bit of an issue personally.[/quote]

I thought that as well, but maybe it would actually be beneficial because you can see if your form is off. If the bar tilts forward or back then you know you aren’t holding it in the right place and so you’ll be more consistent. I haven’t tried it yet though so this is all theoretical.


#4

I think it’s a case of fitting a square peg in a round hole. the trap bar, IMO, would require you to take an uncomfortably wide grip for overhead pressing. Why not use a swiss bar?


#5

Paul Kelso was real big on this movement. You can read about it in Powerlifting Basics: Texas Style and the Shrug Book (the latter even includes photos of it).

Never performed the movement myself. Couldn’t really figure out an appropriate way to get into the apparatus with a good amount of weight. Maybe jerk blocks, and then you duck under it.


#6

I think Ben Bruno recommended it in one of his articles.

It looks pretty good with this type of bar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPMvsDxdpmo
The trap bar at my gym is fully enclosed so racking it/cleaning it might be an issue.


#7

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
I think it’s a case of fitting a square peg in a round hole. the trap bar, IMO, would require you to take an uncomfortably wide grip for overhead pressing. Why not use a swiss bar?[/quote]

I don’t have access to one currently. That is a good idea though.


#8

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
Why not use a swiss bar?[/quote]
If we’re looking for neural-grip pressing, I think I’ve pretty much settled on “just” using dumbbells. The Swiss bar still has me moving my head out of the way for fear of catching myself in the jaw. Could be a technique issue on my end or could just be in my head. But the way I figure, there’s not a ton of benefits that Swiss bar/trap bar pressing can offer that dumbbells can’t.

The most obvious is the chance to use a heavier load, but like you guys have mentioned, the stability requirements increase dramatically with a bar, relative to “heavy” dumbbells. So, yeah, overall I’d probably just go for dumbbells.

[quote]Iron Condor wrote:
I think Ben Bruno recommended it in one of his articles.[/quote]
He’s a big fan of the Dead-Squat bar, I believe moreso than a basic trap bar.

[quote]It looks pretty good with this type of bar [vid]
The trap bar at my gym is fully enclosed so racking it/cleaning it might be an issue.[/quote]
That’s a weirdly interesting half-trap bar, but it’s still a funky/ugly “clean” and he had to duck his head down to get it out of the way. Here’s a guy curling/continental cleaning a trap bar in a super-awkward way. He still moves some big weight, but also spent a ton of energy to get the bar into position:

If you don’t have adjustable squat stands (not a rack, but individual stands) I don’t see any easier way to get a basic trap bar into position. That’s a big reason the Dead-Squat bar was designed the way it was, meant to fit inside a rack just like a straight bar. It also has handles slightly angled, not totally parallel, so you’re actually in slight pronation (or supination), almost like an EZ curl bar, which could be further easier on the joints.


#9

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
Why not use a swiss bar?[/quote]
If we’re looking for neural-grip pressing, I think I’ve pretty much settled on “just” using dumbbells. The Swiss bar still has me moving my head out of the way for fear of catching myself in the jaw. Could be a technique issue on my end or could just be in my head. But the way I figure, there’s not a ton of benefits that Swiss bar/trap bar pressing can offer that dumbbells can’t.

The most obvious is the chance to use a heavier load, but like you guys have mentioned, the stability requirements increase dramatically with a bar, relative to “heavy” dumbbells. So, yeah, overall I’d probably just go for dumbbells.

[/quote]

This swiss bar is actually going to require even further head movement than the barbell in that regard, but that’s not terrible if you’re training for a log press. Having the weight out in front of you makes it something of a different animal than the DBs (unless you press the DBs from in front of your chest pressed together versus over your shoulders, which some folks do for a ghetto log simulator).

As you mentioned, the biggest positive is the fact you can rack a swiss bar. Real nice for floor pressing in that regard, and much easier than trying to muscle a pair of heavy dummbbells into place, but I never really fell in love with the implement. Honestly, the best thing it’s doing right now is sitting on top of my power rack and allowing me to do NG chins.


#10

I switched out to using a swiss bar for pressing about 6 weeks ago, trying to work around some shoulder pain. I’m slowly working up, so the weight isn’t particularly heavy yet.

So far, the neutral grip lets me get into a better position and work around the shoulder pain. I can depress my scapula and flare my lats a bit better at the bottom with a neutral grip.

So far, cleaning from the floor (which is more of a power curl/swing than anything), has worked to prevent any instability. My grip and hand position are set before the bar starts moving, so it’s already stable when it’s racked.

I don’t know if things will stay this way.

I tried using the bar a few times for bench pressing, and it was very awkward. However, it’s been good for overhead pressing and hammer curls.