The trap bar is quickly becoming one of the most popular pieces of gym equipment. Although most lifters focus on the ease of use that the trap bar deadlift variant provides, there are a number of muscle and strength benefits from trap bar training.

Whether your goals are to boost growth in your quadriceps or you simply want to avoid the back pain you often feel when performing conventional deadlifts, the trap bar is a great tool to have in your lifting arsenal. Let's take a look at some of the biggest benefits it can provide.

What is the Trap Bar Deadlift?

Trap bar deadlifts are performed with a special piece of equipment known as a trap bar (oftentimes, this bar is referred to as a "hex bar") that makes them quite different from conventional deadlifts. Unlike a barbell deadlift, where lifters grasp the straight bar directly, trap bar deadlifts involve lifters gripping raised high handles with a neutral grip (palms facing each other). This set up makes the exercise easier to learn and immediately start performing than the straight bar deadlift.

When performing trap bar deadlifts, lifters generally maintain a much more upright torso than they do with conventional deadlift work. Many lifters also find that they are able to lift more/heavier weights when deadlifting with a trap bar.

In recent years, even the U.S. Army has started incorporating trap bar deadlifts into its physical training regimen and assessment procedure. All soldiers are tested on their 3-rep trap bar deadlift max twice per year during the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT).

Hex bar, also known as a trap bar, designed for home gym workouts, featuring dual knurled handles for grip and a sleek black finish

Trap Bar Deadlifts vs. Straight Bar Deadlifts

Oftentimes, trap bar deadlifts are compared to straight bar deadlifts. Although the movement patterns are similar, there are a number of major differences between these exercises:

  • In competitive powerlifting, competitors perform conventional barbell deadlifts and do not use trap bars. Lifters interested in participating in these competitions should not exclusively perform trap bar deadlifts in their training.
  • Although the range of motion (ROM) is similar for both lifts, using the trap bar allows slightly less ROM than a regular deadlift does.
  • Both deadlift variations work many of the same muscle groups, however, trap bar deadlifts work the quadriceps a bit more while conventional deadlifts put a greater emphasis on the glutes, hamstrings, and posterior chain.

The trap bar deadlift is a great accessory to straight bar deadlifts or can even be programmed as a stand-alone lower body and back exercise.

6 Major Benefits of the Trap Bar Deadlift

Besides being a great complementary movement, the trap bar deadlift offers a number of unique advantages that all lifters can benefit from.

  • Easy to learn - Simply grasping the handles, as opposed to getting confused about different grip options, makes it easier for beginners to perform and master the trap bar deadlift.
  • Lower body strength development - Trap bar deadlifts specifically target the quadriceps and involve significant knee and hip extension. They are especially valuable lower-body exercises for those unable to perform barbell back squats.
  • Less risk of injury - Because the lower back doesn't hyperextend in an exaggerated manner, trap bar deadlifts pose a low risk of injury. Lifters also enjoy lower risks of bicep tears when performing them.
  • Can enhance conventional deadlift performance - The trap bar deadlift is a great exercise for improving pulling strength which can positively impact conventional deadlift personal records.
  • Numerous deadlift variations - The trap bar can be used for a variety of deadlift variations such as Romanian deadlifts (RDLs) and trap bar pulls (although it shouldn't be used to sumo deadlift with!)
  • Handle variety -Lifters can grip the bar from either the top or bottom handles, providing additional versatility.

Incorporate the Trap Bar Deadlift in your Strength Training Program!

Both conventional and trap bar deadlifts have a place in any lifter's program and, in certain cases, using the trap bar alone simply won't cut it. Olympic weightlifters need to perform clean pulls with a regular barbell to better mimic their sport-specific movement (and also to work on their hook grip) while competitive powerlifters will only ever use straight bars in competition.

However, for most lifters, the trap bar deadlift can completely replace straight bar deadlifts in training, providing an overall solid substitute for building lower body and back strength.

Whether you're interested in using the trap bar to perform a popular variation (like the Romanian deadlift) or you simply want to stack on more weight plates than you could with a conventional barbell, don't sleep on the trap bar deadlift and all of its benefits. The next time you have deadlifts programmed, give the trap bar a try; you may find it to be your new favorite for lower body and back training.


The trap bar has become one of the most popular pieces of fitness equipment. Of all trap bar exercises, the trap bar deadlift is king. The trap bar deadlift benefits are numerous and highly effective.

Frequently Asked Questions

Trap bar work isn’t nearly as common as straight barbell training. As such, we understand that you might have a few more questions before getting started.

Are trap bar deadlifts suitable for beginners who may have limited grip strength?

Lifters using the high handles of the trap bar generally find it easier to maintain their grip than when lifting with a straight bar. The added benefit of this is that lifters can generally work their legs and back harder with a trap bar since their grip strength will not be their limiting factor.

Do trap bar deadlifts incorporate enough of the quads and other lower body muscles to place less stress on the lumbar spine?

Yes! Trap bar deadlifts generally place less stress on your lumbar spine than conventional deadlifts (and even more "classic" lower body training movements like barbell back squats) do. Because trap bar deadlifting allows for a more upright posture to be maintained, there is less opportunity to lumbar spine curvature during the movement.

Does the trap bar deadlift variation allow for a mixed grip (like the straight barbell version)?

The design of the trap bar is not conducive to mixed grip lifting. In theory, you could grasp the handles of the trap bar with a mixed grip or even grip the front metal with a mixed grip, but these grips would seriously compromise your lifting potential.


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