A higher vertical jump can take months, even years, to develop. Taking a vertical from the mid-20s to the high-30s is something that requires significant time, sweat and effort.
For this reason, athletes should only use exercises and methods that provide the biggest return on investment. A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked into this by comparing the benefit of Trap Bar Jumps with those of Barbell Jumps. Let's take a closer look at this study and outline the takeaways most relevant to you.
Twenty-nine rugby union players trained three times per week for four weeks in one of two programs:
- 3 sets of 3 jumps with 20% of their one-rep max Back Squat load loaded onto a Trap Bar
- 3 sets of 3 jumps with 20% of their one-rep max Back Squat load loaded onto a Barbell
Both groups rested for 2-3 minutes between sets, and the average weight used for the jumps for both groups was about 73 pounds. They also completed an identical full-body training program after performing either the Trap Bar Jumps or Barbell jumps.
Before the training, subjects completed a countermovement jump to assess performance, and they completed the test again at the completion of the 4 weeks. Also measured were markers of power, force and velocity.
Magnitude-based inferences were used to determine changes between groups.
For jump height, mean power and relative peak power, the results were possibly greater after training with the trap bar. Peak velocity, relative mean power and mean force were likely to very likely greater after training with the trap bar.
The authors concluded "these results indicate that training with the (trap bar) leads to superior unloaded counter-movement jump adaptations."
These results indicate that jump training with the trap bar results in better unloaded jump performance than jump training with the barbell. Other research has confirmed this finding, showing that jumping with the trap bar allows for greater power, force, velocity, and jump height compared to the barbell at the same relative intensity.
The likely reason for these differences is that the location of the load with the use of a trap bar seems to result in a more effective anatomical position than the location of the load with the use of a barbell. While a loaded barbell on your back can place excess stress on your lumbar spine, having a loaded trap bar in your hands takes pressure of that area while also better recruiting the glutes and hamstrings. If you don't have access to a trap bar, holding dumbbells in your hand may still be a better alternative compared to the use of a barbell.
If you're looking to optimize the exercises in your vertical jump training, it could be wise to swap out Barbell Jumps for Trap Bar Jumps. You'll perform better within the workout, and now there's evidence to show that you'll perform better over the long-term.
Trap bars aren't just great for jumping, either. Check out these seven exercises you should try with a trap bar.