What are the Benefits of Trap Bar Deadlifts?

If you’re building your home gym, you may have come across a trap barbell during your shopping. At first, trap bars look pretty weird and perhaps even pointless, especially if you already own a standard Olympic barbell. However, trap bars are incredibly useful, particularly for deadlifts.

In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of trap bar deadlifts and explore the overall usefulness of this piece of equipment.

deadlift trap bar muscles worked

Table of Contents

What is a Trap Bar

The first question you’re probably asking is, what even is a trap bar? Well, it’s a type of barbell with a hexagonal shape at the center (hence it is often referred to as a hex bar). When performing exercises with a trap bar, you stand in the middle of the hexagon. It might seem weird, but this design has several safety and performance benefits.

Deadlift Trap Bar vs Barbell

If you’re deciding between a trap bar or barbell for deadlifts, here are the pros and cons to help you decide.

what do trap bar deadlifts work

Benefits of Trap Bar Deadlifts

One benefit of trap bar deadlifts is that you can generally lift more weight than a standard barbell. This makes them an excellent choice for building power.

Secondly, trap bars deadlifts are easier on your joints, allowing you to work out harder for longer.

Finally, trap bar deadlifts are better for your legs, as they put more strain on your quads.

Cons of Trap Bar Deadlifts

The biggest drawback of trap bar deadlifts is that the posterior chain is not as engaged, meaning the hamstrings and lower back get less workout. So, over time, someone performing deadlifts with a barbell will develop more overall strength than another person who only performs deadlifts with a trap bar.

Trap bar deadlifts can also be pretty challenging if you’re a shorter person because of the fixed grips.

Benefits of Barbell Deadlifts

A significant benefit of barbell deadlifts is that they’re far more versatile. You can perform conventional and sumo deadlifts and change your handgrip for more variation.

Another benefit is if you want to compete in conventional powerlifting competitions. These comps use barbells for the deadlift, not trap bars. So, if you’re looking to compete, it’s probably best to learn barbell deadlifts.

Cons of Barbell Deadlifts

The most significant drawback of a barbell deadlift is the time it takes to learn the technique and the potential for injury. Performing barbell deadlifts with incorrect form can lead to long-term back problems.

Another drawback of barbell deadlifts is that they can lead to imbalances. If you perform barbell deadlifts with a mixed grip, you can cause an imbalance in your posture, which may lead to injury.

Both trap bars and barbells have excellent pros but some pretty significant drawbacks too. So, it’s ultimately up to you to decide which bar to use. But, I would recommend trap bars for beginner lifters and standard barbells for more experienced lifters.

What Muscles do Trap Bar Deadlifts Work?

One of the most significant benefits of trap bar deadlifts is that they work various muscles. In particular, they put more stress on your legs than a conventional barbell deadlift.

Here are the muscles that trap bar deadlifts work:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Back
  • Traps
  • Erectors

Is a Trap Bar Safe for Deadlifts?

Safety is one of the main benefits of trap bar deadlifts over conventional barbell deadlifts. They’re safer for several reasons.

It’s much easier to master the deadlift trap bar form. The movement is far less technical than standard deadlifts, making the exercise great for any beginner lifter. This also makes the exercise safer and less likely to injure your back. 

Regular deadlifts put a lot of strain on your back because you’re using your back like a crowbar which can become painful, especially if you already have a bad back.

However, the weight is more aligned with your center of gravity with trap bar deadlifts. This alignment reduces the required shear force to lift, allowing you to keep your form and save your lower back from injury. In the long term, this benefit is priceless.

 I remember that when I first started deadlifting, my form was terrible, making my back sore. Eventually, I switched to the trap bar for deadlifts, taking the pressure off my back, thanks to the more straightforward form. 

So, if you’re new to lifting, trap bar deadlifts might be a good option.

Trap deadlifts help prevent you from hyperextending your back. Because you’re surrounded by the bar, it’s not as easy to lean back too far as you lock out, allowing you to retain a safe position throughout the lift.

Trap bar deadlifts reduce spinal flexion. During deadlifts, it’s crucial to keep your back flat. But, as you get fatigued, it’s easy to bend your spine leading to injury to the spine. However, spinal flexion is naturally reduced with trap bar deadlifts, meaning you’re less likely to injure yourself, even when you’re fatigued.

Ultimately, it’s widely agreed that trap bar deadlifts are much safer than barbell deadlifts. A reduction in the likelihood of injury is a massive plus for trap bar deadlifts and makes these types of bars a worthwhile investment for many people.

Trap Bar Deadlifts vs Barbell Deadlifts Form Tips

Using a trap bar for deadlifts is slightly different from using a standard barbell. As I have mentioned, the form is more straightforward. Follow these steps for a perfect trap bar deadlift.

  1. Step inside the trap bar, with your feet shoulder-width apart (or in line with the weight sleeves).
  2. Squat down to the floor, keeping your back flat.
  3. Grip each handle tightly.
  4. Keeping your shoulders down and your core tight, lift the weight, drawing power with your feet.
  5. Lockout at the top, bringing your hips forward and squeezing your glutes.
  6. Lower back to the floor under control.

If you’re looking to perform a barbell deadlift, follow these steps:

  1. Stand with your feet at shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bending at your hips and knees, roll the barbell toward your shins, using an overhand grip.
  3. Thrust your hips forward to stand up, keeping your back flat.
  4. Lockout at the top, squeezing your glutes.
  5. Lower back to the floor under control, keeping the bar close to your legs.

How much does a Trap Bar Weigh?

Because of the unique design of this bar, you might be wondering just how much does a trap bar weigh. The answer is that it depends.

Most trap bars weigh anywhere from 44-66lbs (20-30kg); ultimately, it depends on the trap bar’s make, size, and model.

To check the weight of a trap bar, you can check on each side of the bar. The actual weight of a trap bar is normally printed on the flat end of the barbell. Ensure you factor in the weight difference when using a trap bar, as they typically weigh more than a standard barbell.

Other Trap Bar Exercise Options

Deadlifts aren’t the only exercises in which you can use trap bars. Here are some other trap bar exercises to incorporate into your workout:

  • Farmers Walk with Tap Bar: performing a farmers walk with a trap bar is a great way to add stability to the movement. To perform the exercise, load your trap bar, and pick it up with a deadlift-like form. Then, walk to one end of your home gym and back. Repeat this as many times as you can before taking a break. A farmers walk with trap bar will work your whole body and is an excellent addition to any home workout.
  • Trap Bar Shrug: a trap bar shrug is a great way to work your shoulders and traps. To perform, stand inside the trap bar and lift the bar so that your arms hang by your sides. Lift your shoulders to your ears, and lower back down in a controlled manner to complete a rep. 
  • Trap Bar Squats: Trap Bar squats are a great addition to any leg workout in your home gym. They’re pretty easy to perform too. Stand in the middle of the trap bar on an elevated surface, such as a weight plate. To complete one rep, squat down, keeping your back straight until the weight plates hit the floor. Return to the starting position. 

These exercises are a great way to get the most out of your trap bar. All the exercises are pretty easy to perform too, so there’s no excuse not to give them a go! 

Final Thoughts

So, there is everything you need to know about the benefits of trap bar deadlifts and trap bars in general. Trap bar deadlifts are excellent for beginners and allow you to lift some seriously heavy weight. They’re also very versatile and can work a variety of muscle groups. Trap bars are ultimately a very underrated piece of equipment; if you have the budget, they are an excellent investment.

About the Author

James is a freelance writer with a passion for fitness. He has written for multiple businesses, and takes great pride in producing high-quality articles. When he’s not pounding away at the keyboard James is sweating it out at the gym, boxing, watching tennis, and playing video games