Jim Wendler Trap Bar Workouts | The Ultimate Guide!


Jim Wendler Trap Bar

Are you curious about Jim Wendler trap bar workouts?

Do you wonder how the creator of 5/3/1 uses this specialty bar to build a big, strong lower body?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

In this comprehensive guide, I will show you how to use Jim Wendler trap bar workouts to take your training to the next level!

Introduction

  • Part 1: What Is The Trap Bar?
  • Part 2: Trap Bar 5/3/1 Workouts
  • Part 3: Trap Bar Football Workouts

Jim Wendler is one of the most popular strength coaches in the world today.

He is famous for inventing the incredibly popular 5/3/1 program, which he calls “the simplest and most effective program for building raw strength.”

Of course, Jim had an incredibly successful powerlifting career before he invented 5/3/1. Jim spent many years training with Louie Simmons and the Westside Barbell powerlifting team, and he put up many incredible lifts during his powerlifting career, including a massive 1,000 pound squat!

Today Jim Wendler spends a lot of time training football players and other athletes. He understands the needs of athletes and regular lifters are different from the needs of professional powerlifters.

For this reason, he often recommends people use the trap bar deadlift in his 5/3/1 training program!

Jim Wendler Stats

  • Date Of Birth: February 13th, 1975
  • Height: 5 Feet 10 Inches
  • Weight: 240 Pounds
  • Body Fat: About 15 Percent

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Trap Bar 5/3/1 Workouts

Jim Wendler centered his original 5/3/1 training program around 4 key lifts:

  • The squat
  • The bench press
  • The deadlift
  • The overhead press

Jim says these are 4 of the classic strength-building exercises, and if you focus on these 4 basic movements, then you are almost guaranteed to become a big, strong dude.

Jim says these exercises are great for powerlifters, athletes, and anyone who wants to get as big and strong as possible.

Of course, Jim understands that athletes and regular athletes have no interested in competing in powerlifting. Therefore, they don’t necessarily have to perform the big 4 exercises.

For example, Jim often recommends his athletes and recreational lifters perform the trap bar deadlift instead of the regular conventional deadlift.

“For people that don’t compete in powerlifting, the Trap Bar is a great option.

You can’t argue the benefits of picking up something heavy off the ground whether it it be a Trap Bar or straight bar, so who am I to say it’s not good?”

So what is the trap bar?

The trap bar is a specialty barbell used to perform the deadlift. The trap bar is shaped like a hexagon, which allows you to stand inside of the barbell while you perform the deadlift.

Here is a perfect video demonstration of this exercise:

The trap bar deadlift works many of the same muscle groups as the regular conventional deadlift. However, it also has many key differences.

Research shows the trap bar places more stress on your quads, and puts slightly less stress on your lower back and lumbar spine. It also allows you to deadlift with a more upright posture, as the center of gravity of the exercise is more in line with your body.

This is completely different from a regular conventional deadlift, where the center of gravity is far out in front of your body.

Here is Jim Wendler describing the advantages of the trap bar deadlift over the conventional deadlift:

“The biggest advantage to the Trap Bar is the handles – they keep the bar close to your center of gravity.

So in theory, it will make the lift safer. The Trap Bar also uses more quad than a normal deadlift.”

So why does Jim Wendler like the trap bar deadlift?

Jim knows that the deadlift is an important movement pattern, and almost everyone stands to benefit from including some type of deadlift variation in their training program.

However, if you don’t compete in powerlifting, then there’s no reason you have to perform a regular conventional deadlift.

Instead, the trap bar deadlift will work all of the same muscle groups as the conventional deadlift, while putting less stress on your lower back and reducing your risk for injury.

“Let’s face it, chasing the Big Three (squat, bench press, deadlift) can get tiresome, and having an acceptable substitution that can be used for several months might be just what you need to keep the competitive fires burning.”

This is great advice.

If you are a competitive or recreational athlete, then using the trap bar deadlift instead of the regular conventional deadlift can be a very smart idea.

Trap Bar 5/3/1 Workouts

Jim Wendler says anyone who is not a powerlifter can use the trap bar deadlift instead of the conventional deadlift in their 5/3/1 training program.

So what would a 5/3/1 program with the trap bar deadlift actually look like? 

Let’s start by looking at the overall 5/3/1 training program. Jim Wendler says most people should base their 5/3/1 training program around 4 main exercises: the squat, the bench press, the deadlift, and the overhead press.

Jim uses many different training splits in his 5/3/1 training program. However, his original program uses a 4-day upper body / lower body training split. Check it out:

The 4-Day Jim Wendler 5/3/1 Training Split

  • Day 1: Squat
  • Day 2: Bench Press
  • Day 3: Deadlift
  • Day 4: Overhead Press

Jim says you should spread out your workouts throughout the week. For example, you could train on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

With the 5/3/1 program you perform 3 working sets on the primary barbell exercise, like the squat or bench press. After that, you perform 2-4 accessory exercises for your upper or lower body.

For example, here is what a 5/3/1 deadlift workout might look like:

Sample 5/3/1 Deadlift Workout

  • Exercise #1: Deadlift, 3 sets of 1-5+ reps
  • Exercise #2: Bulgarian split squat, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Glute ham raise, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #4: Hanging leg raise, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps

There’s nothing wrong with structuring your deadlift workouts this way. However, if you are not a powerlifter, then Jim says swapping the conventional deadlift for the trap bar deadlift is a perfectly acceptable thing to do.

You still use the usual 5/3/1 training percentages for your main lift, and your accessory exercises don’t necessarily have to change either.

Here is what your 5/3/1 training split would look like using the trap bar deadlift:

5/3/1 Template Using Trap Bar

  • Day 1: Squat
  • Day 2: Bench Press
  • Day 3: Trap Bar Deadlift
  • Day 4: Overhead Press

As you can see, the only thing you have to change is swapping the trap bar deadlift in instead of the regular conventional deadlift.

Your actual deadlift workouts also don’t have to change very much. Check it out:

Sample 5/3/1 Trap Bar Deadlift

  • Exercise #1: Trap bar deadlift, 3 sets of 1-5 reps+
  • Exercise #2: Bulgarian split squat, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Glute ham raise, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #4: Hanging leg raise, 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps

Of course, the 3 working sets of your trap bar deadlift are performed with normal 5/3/1 training percentages.

You can also choose to use any of Jim Wendler’s assistance work templates for your accessory exercises, such as Westside-style assistance work, the triumvirate, boring but big, boring but big beefcake, or any of his other assistance work templates.

Trap Bar Football Workouts

Since retiring from professional powerlifting, Jim Wendler has spent a LOT of time training high school football athletes.

This makes perfect sense, as Jim competed as a collegiate level football player when he was younger, so he has a lot of first-hand knowledge of the sport.

Jim says the trap bar deadlift can be a great exercise for football players, as it is easier to recover from than the regular deadlift, and it significantly reduces your overall risk for injury.

Jim especially likes to use the trap bar deadlift during the competitive football season, as it becomes much easier to recover for your actual game day on the weekend.

Here is a basic template for how Jim Wendler organizes his in-season football workouts:

Trap Bar Deadlift For In Season Training

Saturday Morning (After game)

  •  Calisthenics/Mobility/Stretching
  •  Very light lifting/movement work

Monday – Lower Body

  • Exercise A1: Trap bar deadlift, 3 sets of 1-5 reps**
  • Exercise B1: Pull exercise, 50-100 reps
  • Exercise B2: Push exercise, 50-100 reps

Wednesday: Upper Body

  • Exercise A1: Bench press, 3 sets of 1-5 reps**
  • Exercise B1: Pull exercise, 50-100 reps
  • Exercise B2: Push exercise, 50-100 reps

As you can see, Jim Wendler has his in-season football athletes perform 3 workouts per week.

The first workout occurs immediately after the game day. They perform some calisthenics / mobility / stretching work, plus some very light lifting and movement work.

Two days later Jim has his athletes perform a simple full body exercise consisting of the trap bar deadlift, plus a couple of upper body assistance exercises. The trap bar deadlift is performed with Jim Wendler’s usual 5/3/1 training percentages.

If you want to read more about these training percentages, then make sure you check out the following article:

Then a couple of days later Jim has his football athletes perform a normal upper body 5/3/1 workout using the bench press.

Jim says the trap bar deadlift works perfectly in this in-season training template as it allows you to recover MUCH more quickly for your actual game day on Saturday.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with the regular conventional deadlift, and if you do not have access to a trap bar deadlift then you can always use a regular straight bar.

However, Jim Wendler is a big fan of the trap bar deadlift for football players and other athletes, so if you have access to this specialty bar then you may want to give it a shot!

Conclusion | Jim Wendler Trap Bar Workouts!

Jim Wendler is one of the most successful strength coaches in the world today, and it’s easy to see why.

He understands how to use different specialty bars like the trap bar in his 5/3/1 program to help you build size and strength as quickly as possible.

If you are looking for an exercise that you can use instead of the regular conventional deadlift in your 5/3/1 program, then you have to give the trap bar deadlift a shot.

It may be just what you need to take your training to the next level!

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

What's going on! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen, I'm the creator of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to take your training to the next level, then you've come to the right place... My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world!

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