Jump Higher and Run Faster With These 5 Trap Bar Exercises

These five lifts will help you build power for improved athletic performance, no matter which sport you play.

Wanting to jump higher and run faster are probably two of the reasons you stepped into the weight room in the first place. The great thing is that we can directly improve our jumping and running performance through exercises like Squats, Deadlifts and various power exercises. Squats and Deadlifts will help build the brute strength portion of the power equation while the power exercises will help develop the speed of the movement.

When it comes to power exercises and jumping/sprinting, the key is to not only move lighter weights faster but to also explosively train "triple extension" or the simultaneous extension of the hip, knee and ankle joints. This will directly relate to the jumps and sprints competitive athletes need. I love to use trap bars for many of the explosive triple-extension-based exercises my athletes perform at Xceleration Fitness.

In my experience, they're a bit easier to learn and offer many of the same great benefits as the traditional Olympic lift variations like Cleans, Snatches and their many variations. There's nothing wrong with those Olympic barbell power exercises, but these are a great option for less experienced athletes who may be newer to the weight room. The athlete's goals should be to increase athletic ability, not just their Olympic lift numbers. However, if you're an athlete who's often involved in collisions, such as a linebacker in football, you will want to include exercises that require you to produce and absorb force (like a Power Clean).

I don't claim that the exercises below are the only and best option for all situations and athletes, but they will build power in all athletes! Having said that, here are are the top five trap bar exercises to help you sprint faster and jump higher.

1. Trap Bar Deadlift

The Deadlift is considered one of the best bang-for-your-buck exercises to train the posterior chain.

This is also the base movement for all of the power exercises below and must be mastered first before attempting more complex trap bar power exercises.

It targets the glutes and hamstrings with the power hip extension that's also present in sprinting and jumping. The Deadlift can also help to prevent injury in the lower back

To perform this exercise, step inside the trap bar with feet about hip width apart. Squat down until you can grasp the handles, making sure your hands are centered on the handles. In the bottom position, your back should be flat, chin tucked slightly, and arms straight with tension in the lats and upper back. Initiate the movement by pushing through the floor and driving the hips forward until you are standing upright with hips locked out and eyes looking straight ahead.

Reverse the motion on the descent and lower the bar under control until the plates are resting on the floor completely. It is important to control the weight on the way down to strengthen the hamstrings eccentrically, which is very important to prevent future hamstring injury. Try to avoid bouncing the weights to really build a powerful first step, explosive hips, and a great starting point technique for the more advanced power exercises below.

2. Trap Bar Deadlift

Taking it up a notch, the Trap Bar Power Shrug combines the Trap Bar Deadlift with an explosive shoulder shrug. This will help bridge the gap between the Deadlift and the more advanced variations we'll explore below. Perform this exercise with lighter weights, as the main focus should be on speed and power. On a scale of one to ten you should stay between the 5 to 7 range in difficulty, depending on the amount of reps you will perform.

Set up just as you did for the Deadlift and begin the movement the same way, but instead of stopping at the top of the Deadlift, explosively shrug your shoulders up towards your ears and pop up slightly on your toes. At the top of the movement, your shoulders should be shrugged high to the ears, hips extended, knees extended, and ankles extended. Keep your arms straight and avoid pulling your hands up high on this variation. Control the weight on the way down, reset at the bottom, and repeat. Make sure to perform each rep with maximum speed and intensity.

3. Trap Bar Jump

The great thing about jumping is that it forces you to be explosive and fast in order to leave the ground. This variation takes a simple Vertical Jump up a notch by holding a trap bar in our hands. Start just the same as the Deadlift, but instead of locking out at the top, explosively jump as high as you can. Make sure to keep the arms straight and avoid pulling up with your hands. The main focus should be to jump as high as possible.

It's very important to pay attention to your landing to avoid injury. Land soft and absorb the forces from the jump and added weight by landing on the balls of your feet, pushing your hips back, keeping your back flat, and preventing your knees from collapsing together. Reset between each rep and keep the reps low. Jumps should be carefully controlled when it comes to volume to maximize their impact on your performance, especially when weighted.

4. Trap Bar Jump Shrug

Now we're going to combine the jump and the shrug from above. Set up just the same and explosively jump as high as possible. As you leave the ground and you jump into the air, quickly shrug your shoulders towards your ears. If you were to freeze an image of yourself at the top of the jump, your shoulders should be shrugged high and your hips, knees and ankles should all be simultaneously extended. Control the landing and reset after each rep. Make sure to control the amount of reps you do here as well and maximize the impact by resting adequately between sets.

5. Trap Bar High Pull (Hang or Power)

For this final variation, we'll be progressing the shrug variations into a full high pull. Set up just the same as all other variations and start the movement by driving down through the floor with our legs and explosively stand up. As you stand, began shrugging your shoulders and pulling your hands high to your sides simultaneously. Both initiate at the exact same time and it may require a bit of practice to get the timing down perfectly. At the top of the movement, your hips, knees,and ankles will all be extended while your hands and arms will be pulled up high to your sides.

This is also a great exercise to performed from the hang position. This involves starting from a standing position, slightly hinging at the hip to initiate the movement, then exploding up in to the high pull once the bar reaches the top of the knees. If you're having trouble mastering the Trap Bar Jump Shrug or Trap Bar High Pull, I suggest recording yourself in slow motion on your phone to see where the problem is.

Try these movements to build your jumping and sprinting ability. Make sure to keep the reps a bit lower on the power movements. Range from three to six reps per set and rest for a long period between sets (a minimum of two minutes). Again, it's dependent on how many reps you are performing. It's crucial not to rush the rest period of power exercises so that you can complete the movements with maximum power output. The only exception to the lower rep rule is the Trap Bar Deadlift, which can be performed for eights, tens, and even twelve rep sets.

if you have any questions with these movements, how to program them, or anything else related to improving your performance feel free to reach out to me @johnpapfitness on Instagram or Facebook. I would be happy to help you!