Reeves Bodyweight Movements For Massive Upper Body Size and Strength
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
Recently I wrote about the old school Reeves deadlift and how to modify it by using the trap bar for a number of unique exercise variations such as deadlifts, rows, RDL’s, lunges, and more (Read more about the Reeves Deadlift Variations Here). Fortunately a similar setup can be employed on a variety of bodyweight movements such as pullups, inverted rows, planks, pushups, and hanging leg raises. Here are several of my awesome athletes and clients including Ben Lai, Leslie Petch, Ike Onike, and myself demonstrating these.
Besides providing a unique training stimulus there are multiple reasons why each of these different bodyweight exercises are so effective when performed using the Reeves Trap bar method.
Note: Each movement will be discussed in the order they appear on the above video.
Reeves Trap Bar Pullup
Super Wide Grip Pullups are a staple back exercise for many hardcore bodybuilders. Unfortunately they can also wreak havoc on the shoulders as the combination of a wide and pronated grip tends to place undue stress on the glenohumeral joint. However, by slightly tweaking the exercise and incorporating a neutral grip position, the wide grip pullup feels significantly easier on the shoulder joint while still providing the same intense stimulus to the lats and upper back. If you’re looking for a pullup variation that builds a massive V-taper yet is still joint and shoulder friendly, the Reeves trap bar pullup is tough to beat. As an added bonus the grip and forearms also get hammered quite intensely,
Reeves Trap Bar Inverted Row
Inverted Rows are one of the most underrated upper back exercises and horizontal pulling movements. Not only do they crush the upper back and lats but they also require significant recruitment of the posterior chain including the glutes and hamstrings. When performing these with the super wide and neutral grip such as that used with the Reeves Trap bar method, the stimulus to the rhomboids, upper lats, teres major, rear delts, and middle/lower traps is difficult to replicate with any other movement. As a result this specific inverted row variation does wonders for improving postural mechanics and shoulder health provided proper technique is employed.
Reeves Trap Bar Plank
If you’re looking for a plank variation that’s absolutely brutal on the core yet also blasts the upper body, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the Reeves Trap Bar Variation. Essentially you’re holding a pushup plank position with isometric chest fly in the mid-stretched position. This provides a semi-occluded stretch to the muscles of the pectorals, deltoids, triceps, and biceps making it an incredibly potent mass builder that’s guaranteed to burn. In addition , you’re also resisting significant extension forces as you keep the barbell from rolling out. This is accomplished through intense core and hip activation making it a very effective exercise for sculpting the abs. Once it gets too easy simply add weight or perform it in a single leg fashion. Either way, they’re brutal
Reeves Trap Bar Pushups
If you want to take the plank a step further try performing the pushup variation. Besides increased activation to the upper body pressing muscles, your lats will also receive a nice beating as they’ll be working overtime to keep the barbell from rolling out. This lat activation helps keeps the elbows tucked while performing wide grip pushups (something that is difficult to accomplish with other variations). As a result this is a solid option for competitive powerlifters who are looking to become more efficient at using a wide grip while incorporating a centrated shoulder with elbow tuck and lat activation.
Reeves Trap Bar Hanging Leg Raise
If you want to annihilate your core and upper back with one ultra advanced movement, try performing leg raises with the Reeves trap bar method. To make it even harder, rather than holding a dead hang position, try holding a pullup position in the mid-range position. This not only makes the movement more shoulder friendly but it also helps to ensure a more neutral pelvis throughout rather than excessive arch.
If you’re looking for a training program and instructional guide that teaches you how to incorporate different movements such as these into your training routine, check out my Complete Templates Series