Every athlete is constantly looking for ways to increase their explosive power and peak force. The trap bar jump is a great, easy movement that anyone can do to build explosive power. In this guide, we will go over how to properly perform a trap bar jump and the benefits of this underutilized exercise.
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What Are Trap Bar Jumps?
Trap bar jumps (also known as hex bar jump squats) are a speed-strength exercise most commonly used to increase vertical jump performance and explosive power. In contrast to other movements known for building explosive power like the Olympic lifts, the trap bar jump is fairly to perform and does not require much technique to be done correctly.
The actual exercise mimics the classic trap bar deadlift with a jump added on at the end.
Trap Bar Jump Benefits
There are a number of reasons why this exercise is increasing in popularity and can be a useful addition to your training program:
Easy To Learn
One of the main benefits of the trap bar in general is that it is very beginner friendly. The neutral grips and center of gravity make it much easier for new lifters to use the bar for most exercises properly. In terms of trap bar jumps, the movement really is just a trap bar deadlift with a jump added on at the end. Most people will get hold of the movement within a single training session.
In contrast, many other movements associated with force development can be hard to learn. Olympic lifts are not something you can master in a singular session, athletes often spend years perfecting their form to get the most out of these movements. When you consider that studies have shown that weighted jumps improved performance just as much as clean pulls, it is hard to justify investing the time to learn to do the Olympic lifts for performance. Therefore, if you do not have any Olympic lifting experience, the trap bar jump is the clear go-to exercise for power.
Increase Force Development
In the context of trying to be as athletic and explosive as possible, this really comes down to three key physical qualities:
Explosive Power: The ability of your muscles to generate force under conditions of high velocity
Reactive Strength: The ability to switch from eccentric to concentric muscular activation
Rate Of Force Development: This is how much force you can produce as quickly as possible
These are all complicated topics, but to keep it simple I would argue that trap bar jumps effectively improve you in all these areas. Through the lift, you are forced to work on your explosive power during the jump but are also training your muscle to quickly reverse directions at the bottom of the jump.
How To Do Trap Bar Jumps
Step By Step Trap Bar Jump
Get into a deadlift position
Deadlift the bar off the ground
Trap Bar Jump Tips
To get the most out of this exercise, follow these tips:
Use Light Weight
If you are just starting out, I would recommend starting with just the trap bar weight and working your way up from there. Even once you become more experienced, I would not recommend going 50% of your trap bar deadlift max weight. Remember that your joints have to absorb the shock of landing as well, you can build plenty of power without going too heavy on this movement.
Be Smooth Off The Floor
One of the most common mistakes I see with this lift is trying to be too explosive off the ground and rounding their back or jerking the weight. The beginning of the movement should really just emulate trap bar deadlifts. Once you get into a more athletic position with your knees bent and your bar off the ground, you can begin to focus on force production.
Overload Without Additional Weight
The primary way you will be overloading on this exercise is by adding additional weight to the bar. However, there are several other ways you improve peak power without necessarily using more weight. These ways are still overloading your body, they will just be easier on your overall recovery and joint health:
Use resistance bands
Try to improve your jump height with the same weight
Increase the number of jumps you do within a given time frame
Trap Bar Jump Variations
There are many variations of the trap bar jump you could try:
If you do not have access to a trap bar, you can still emulate the movement by using dumbbells. That being said, you will have to work more to ensure the dumbbells do not crash against your body and you will just not be able to use as much weight.
Trap Bar Jumps With A Hang
Most trap bar jumps are done off the ground, but by incorporating a hang at the end of the movement you could overload the eccentric portion of the movement more. Without the ground to stop the bar, your muscles will have to work hard to stop the movement of the bar and reverse directions quickly.
Banded Trap Bar Jumps
With an added band, you are increasing the speed at which you are pulled to the ground. This will lead to a greater ground reaction force and train you to absorb a greater amount of force overall.
Like many of you, I am wary of any movement that requires my joints to absorb large amounts of force, especially with additional weight. However, unless you have had previous injuries., I would say that the risk of injury with trap bar jumps is minimal as long as they are done properly.
Properly means lighter weight, cushioned shoes, and proper deadlift form at the bottom of the rep. Weighted vertical jumps can be a great addition to your arsenal, just be sure to listen to your body and not allow yourself to not go too heavy.
Hex bar jumps are a great exercise to improve the maximum force. The lack of technical skill required and numerous variations make it a great choice for any athlete trying to improve their explosiveness.