So you’ve been eyeing up that hex bar at the gym for a while now and you’re probably wondering whether trap bar deadlifts are actually any good for your vertical jump…
Trap bar deadlifts are one of the most effective strength exercises for developing vertical jumping ability due to their highly jump-specific range of motion as well as the capacity to lift a lot of weight.
In this article we’re going to discuss exactly why trap (or hex) bar deadlifts are super effective for vertical jump strength development and why you should absolutely be including these in your workouts.
We’ll also take a quick look at some other popular deadlift variants to see how they stack up.
Do Trap Bar Deadlifts Make You Jump Higher?
The short answer is yes, 100%.
But how exactly do they work and what about them makes them particularly effective?
The Grip Is More Favorable
Firstly, when gripping a trap bar, we’re able to do so using a neutral grip as opposed to a double overhand, hook, or mixed grip.
The neutral grip is a far more natural position and allows us to keep our shoulders and torso in a more athletic position.
This more relaxed, comfortable position more closely mimics the vertical jump and also allows us to load up with weight.
More Natural Knee Flexion
With a traditional deadlift, our shins are constantly competing with a hard metal bar, which makes lowering ourselves (knee flexion) less fluid.
With the trap bar, our knees can go considerably further forward with no restriction, allowing us to replicate the knee bend typical of the vertical jumping motion.
The combination of the more natural grip and extended knee range of motion allows us to move some really heavy weights using a hex/trap bar.
Heavier loads means better myofibrillar stimulus which means greater strength gains.
As we know, strength is one of the major components of the vertical jump formula (strength x speed = power), so performing strength exercises that increase our top-end force production is really valuable.
Which Type Of Deadlift Is Best For Vertical Jump?
It’s difficult to say exactly which deadlift variation is optimal for developing your vertical jump.
With the current data, it’s largely going to come down to individual preference, though from experience I’d be leaning strongly towards the trap bar deadlift.
So much so that I’d actually recommend replacing 100% of your regular deadlift volume with trap bar work if you have access to one.
We do however have some evidence that shows both conventional and trap bar deadlifts produced very similar results with regard to peak ground reaction forces and vertical jump carryover.1https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2017/01000/Comparison_of_Olympic_and_Hexagonal_Barbells_With.16.aspx?casa_token=dpycb9uTFfgAAAAA:RNierkAaOQMbOzCeuuaITY_W-H9hylc5eqGLHsTQyfJm_9fO8LwVIJCwFmqXwriru-Clo1cmlOZZofmHKqQUK3DqbJmf
Having said that, other research indicates that we’re able to move weight more quickly and with more acceleration using a trap bar, which almost certainly has a positive impact from a rate of force development perspective.2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5969032/
I’d suggest trying out the trap bar if you have access to one and deciding for yourself which deadlift variant you think is going to move the needle more.
Nailing technique is certainly easier, especially for less experienced athletes, using a trap bar.
You’ll often have an option for using slightly higher handles on the trap bar which means reduced range of motion and heavier weights.
One thing I will say is that either conventional or trap bar deadlift is going to be superior to both the sumo and the RDL when it comes to developing your vertical jump as we’ll discuss.
Is The Sumo Deadlift Good For Vertical Jump?
The sumo deadlift is not an ideal variant for the vertical jump because of how biomechanically different this movement is to a vertical jump.
When in the sumo position, your feet are significantly wider than they are when jumping, causing an unathletic loading of the hips.
The simple way of answering this question is to just look at the sumo deadlift and then look at the conventional technique.
Ask yourself which one more closely replicates jumping and you’ll quickly realize that a conventional deadlift is far superior to sumo for vertical jump training.
Do Romanian Deadlifts Help Vertical Jump?
RDLs do help with vertical jump, however it’s not really fair to compare this movement with a conventional or trap bar deadlift in terms of efficacy.
The RDL is more of a knee flexor isolation exercise, meaning it doesn’t directly focus on the triple extensor muscle groups in the same way a conventional or trap deadlift does.
By design, the range of motion largely excludes knee extension…
If there’s one thing we want to practice in order to jump higher, it’s knee extension.
You also won’t lift anywhere near as much weight doing RDLs as you will any other deadlift variation, so you’re not going to develop strength in quite the same way.
Having said that, RDLs are still an awesome exercise for strengthening your hamstrings and there was no shortage of RDLs in my diet back when I was training full time to jump higher!
So they’re definitely fine to include in your workouts, but not as a replacement to heavier conventional or trap bar deadlifts or squats.
Which Trap Bar To Use?
I’ve used 3-4 different hex bars over the years, but during the pandemic, I bought one of these RitFit hex bars to use at my friend’s home gym during lockdown.
It’s quite simply been one of the best purchases I’ve made online in a while.
It’s super solid, really affordable, and has the high handles for when I want to go really heavy.
Whichever way you slice it, trap bar deadlifts are really good for your vertical jump, due to how closely the movement tracks an actual vertical jump.
It’s no wonder the vast majority of the best vertical jump programs on the market incorporate some sort of trap bar deadlift in their programming.
If you’ve got a trap or hex bar, I highly recommend playing around with incorporating this deadlift into your vertical jump strength sessions.
If you’re already doing conventional deadlifts, try these instead.
You might find them easier and more comfortable to perform and should find that you’re able to lift much heavier.
If you’re coming into the last few weeks of a strength training block where you’re trying to go really heavy for fewer reps, the trap bar deadlift is a really safe and effective way to generate huge force output.