The Correlation between Trap Bar Deadlift (1 rep max) & Mound Velocity
Developing strength in throwing athletes continues to be a key form of training programs across the nation. The goal of tracking different tests and assessments is to find out what is the best strategy to building healthy, sustainable velocity in athletes of different levels and capabilities.
One of the main assessment tools used in this off-season programming was the trap bar deadlift. It began with an on-ramping phase and teaching the proper way to perform the lift. After a 4 week on-ramping phase, we assessed trap bar technique and reviewed form. We tested the 1 rep max the following week. Several athletes were stopped based on technique in their testing. In total, 47 athletes went through the consistent programming and assessment process with the trap bar deadlift.
Assessing a 1 rep max can be dangerous and difficult to ask for athletes of different age levels or abilities. Several athletes made adjustments into a 3 rep max or did not participate in the lift at all due to previous injuries or mobility issues.
The next 7 weeks focused on developing strength and technique through variations of weight training and plyometrics. Exercises included but were not limited to trap bar deadlift, Bulgarian squat, reverse lunges, box jumps, dumbbell bench, TRX exercises, Palloff press, sled push and pulls, lateral lunges, and several different core exercises.
There were about 20 athletes that had specific deficiencies or previous injuries required altered training programs. Theses athletes were not in the sample groups.
Several made quick improvements based on better technique and form. The biggest improvers, some up to 70 pounds, were new to the lift itself and made bigger improvements after consistent training and and workload.
The post-assessment for Trap Bar Deadlift was in week 9 of the program. Those testing numbers are shown in the graph above compared to their mound velocity (peak) assessed in week 10. Overall, the average 1 rep max improved by 21 pounds for over 50 athletes (below).
Why does the trap bar deadlift assessment show similarities to positional velocity? Improving muscular strength in hopes of gaining velocity is nothing ground-breaking. However, assessing athletes, being transparent with their results and deficiencies, and training them accordingly to maximize their ability to throw hard separates this program from others.
The trap bar deadlift provides a movement that develops key muscle groups and while training ground force that provides a stable foundation for throwing. As seen in the data, our stronger athletes often throw harder on the mound. Those that made big improvements in their trap bar deadlift max also improved more than average in their positional velocity. There were outliers, but this testing provides an educational piece for both the athlete and the trainer.
In general, the trap bar deadlift is a very important piece to strength training that provides important feedback on power and force production. It is a common lift variation for athletes but has not been tracked in a large group of athletes that are all attempting to improve throwing velocity.
These athletes often participate in lifting classes that focus on the “power 3” being squat, bench press, and power clean. All three are good movements, but the baseball player needs more plane-specific movements that challenge them in similar positions used in baseball.
When combining the rotational power development of medicine ball training, lower half power output assessment in the broad jump, and physical strength in the trap bar deadlift, you are building the foundation that leads to increased throwing velocity.
Not one of these tools can answer all of the problems, but combining different assessments and training prescriptions can lead to better results.
For more information on data or training, contact PRPBaseball101@gmail.com