It's easy to look at the conventional barbell deadlift and think it's the weight room's great equalizer. After all, it's just a bar on the ground and everyone has to pull it from the same height, right?
Uh, wrong. Once you're up above 6 feet, especially 6-foot-4 and above like Canadian strength coach Lee Boyce, the lift becomes anything but the same. Each inch taller becomes another inch of range of motion that the bar must pass through—and another inch of bending over or deficit in your starting position.
"A 'normal' deadlift from the floor for one guy might basically be a three-inch deficit pull for you," writes Boyce in "Essential Gym Hacks for Big Guys." "It's a long way up, and a pair of long legs can seriously block the ability to pull a heavy bar in a straight path to the top, free of dangerous compensations."
If you're nodding your head right now—or rubbing your sore lower back from your last deadlift workout—Boyce advises taking a break from the conventional deadlift and trying the best tall-guy-friendly variation out there: the trap bar or "hex bar" deadlift. Here's why it's great, according to Boyce.
"Unlike a straight bar, the trap bar allows the shins to travel forward, which by extension allows the upper body to remain more vertical. The lower hip position improves quad activity and overall leg drive while maintaining a flat spine, and the weight is perfectly aligned with your center of gravity with no spinal contortions necessary. For all these reasons, the trap bar deadlift is the bee's knees for many NBA strength coaches who want their athletes to pull heavy."
Need a workout to guide you? Boyce's "The Best Damn Trap Bar Workout, Period" in BodyFit Plus is the perfect place to start—and you'll be glad you did.
"And don't be afraid to use the high handles," Boyce says. "You're still getting plenty of ROM, big guy."
Training in a gym that doesn't have a trap bar?
"Do yourself a favor and at least modify your stance," Boyce says. "Going for a medium sumo stance will lower your hip position and allow for some space to get the back tighter and keep the scapulae over the bar."
Want to build strength with no complicated BS programming? Try Strength and Muscle for Beginners in BodyFit Elite. You'll train approachable versions of the big lifts—including the trap bar deadlift—three days a week, building full-body strength and coordination that will carry over to whatever you want to do outside of the gym!