Trap Bar Deadlift Benefits (Pros + Training Tips)

There are several variations of bars on the market at the moment and in use in commercial and home gyms across the country. Perhaps the most popular variant is the trap bar, a bar designed to help make deadlifting in any home gym a little safer.

In this article, we are going to look at what exactly makes the trap bar so popular and the best trap bar deadlift benefits. Below are some of the pros and cons.

If you are looking to buy a trap bar of your own or wonder whether to start using the one in your local gym, you have come to the right place.

1. Deadlifts

The main reason that many people look into using a trap bar is that they are having problems with mobility or injury that prevent them from being able to perform traditional deadlifts or rack pulls.

One of the most restricting things that people struggle with when it comes to deadlifts is knee positioning. If your posterior chain is tight or you have some hip or knee injuries, you will struggle to get into the correct position, which could result to some dangerous deadlift mistakes causing discomfort or possibly further injury.

A trap bar gives you a lot more options in terms of where you put your knees. The bar isn't there to stop your knees from bending forwards. This allows you to engage your legs a little bit more, gaining support and performing assisted deadlifts.

This form of deadlift allows you to keep your back in a much more vertical position and might look like it resembles a squat more than a deadlift. You will be able to lift really heavy here, heavier than your average deadlift weight. This is great for strength training or busting through plateaus.

It is also a great place to start if you are a beginner or training someone how to deadlift. Deadlifts cause more injuries in the gym than any other lift, so easing people into them by getting them used to lift with a trap bar is a great idea.

If you are a more experienced lifter, you can remove the knee bend and engage the hips more, allowing you to perform a more traditional deadlift.

Once you are experienced in doing this, you can engage exactly the same muscles as a traditional deadlift does without having to scrape your shins.

Just remember, the top of the lift should be approached slightly differently from a standard deadlift. At the top of a traditional deadlift, there is a moment where the bar rests on your thighs, and you shift position to lower the bar down.

With the design of the trap bar, you will have a moment of "floating" at the top, where you will have to make that switch without a conscious physical trigger. Be mindful of any loose movement, and make sure you brace correctly throughout the entire lift, or you could injure yourself.

Luckily, if you feel the lift going wrong, dropping the trap bar is safe and simple; just let go.

2. Versatility

The second reason on our list is the pure versatility that a trap bar offers. The design of this bar essentially makes it a standard barbell that doesn't get in your way when you do certain lifts.

The only contact you will need to have with this bar is where you grip it, the handles. You don't have to worry about the bar touching your legs or shins during movements which can be a godsend for those who are lifting heavy and are used to tearing their shins to shreds. This is going to allow you to perform exercises in a completely different manner.

One of the popular ways to use a trap bar is an exercise called the farmers' walk. You simply load the bar up with a high weight stand inside the diamond, lift it up, and then walk a set distance before placing it down. This is one of the best core workouts known to man and could become a crucial part of your lifting routine.

Want something new to do on leg day? Load the bar up and do some trap bar lunges.

Then you have the fact that most new trap bars come with the ability to be racked like an ordinary barbell. You could do some rack pulls or some deadlifts utilizing resistance bands for an added time under tension.

Finally, you have the exercises the bar is named for. The trap bar is the perfect tool to use for heavy shrugs. The design of the bar actually makes it ideal as it aligns your body in a way that means you will be shrugging towards the back of your head, activating your traps, and engaging your muscles better than the "incorrect" way that most people shrug, towards their ears. The wider grips also prevent you from resting your arms on your sides during the shrug.

Even though most people pick up a trap bar to deadlift, as we have proven, it's an excellent tool in several different exercises.

3. Better for Joint/Shoulder/Scapula Problems

If you are a lifter who has struggled with joint problems, especially around the scapula/shoulders, then it could be a great idea to make the switch to a trap bar. For recovery, most people will tolerate using a trap bar a lot easier than a barbell.

The traditional deadlift grip used by the majority of lifters is the mixed grip with one hand over one under. The problem with this is that when the weights start to increase as they progress, your lat muscles can become unbalanced due to the grip.

If this happens, your lat muscles, which connect to the lower back and posterior chain, will pull on one side, leading to an imbalance that could lead to severe problems later on down the line.

The trap bar utilizes a neutral grip system, one where both hands are facing the same direction. People use a mixed grip on a normal deadlift because it usually allows them to grip heavier weights without dropping them. The trap bar prevents this problem by allowing you to manage your weight in a more balanced manner.

4. Switch Up a Stale Routine

As you become an experienced gym user, it can be too easy to fall into the same old routine. This means that workouts that may have been working well for you up until a certain point stop having the same positive effects. This can lead to frustration and plateaus, especially when you are still turning up and putting in the effort.

This is because our bodies are incredibly effective at adapting to our routine. The shock that we placed on our system in the early days is no longer as effective at eliciting the same growth.

To combat this, it is advisable to swap up your routine regularly. To do this, swap the exercise you are doing.

Usually, start with a flat bench press? Swap to incline. Dumbbell curls can be swapped to preacher curls, and the traditional deadlift can be traded to a trap bar deadlift.

As you grip a trap bar differently and perform a different movement, this should allow you to keep progressing and keeping your body under the stress and shock it needs to signal your muscles to grow and adapt.

It's not just the physical response either. Doing the same routine week in week out can get boring real quick. Adding new exercises and variants is a great way to keep your workouts fun and fresh. The trap bar is a great way to do this and will allow you to load the bar heavier than a traditional deadlift. This works wonders in terms of motivation purposes.

Trap Bar Deadlift Benefits

Negatives to Using Trap Bars

1. Stability

We talked earlier about the fact that during a standard deadlift, the motion allowed for a precise finish point, with the bar resting on your thighs. The trap bar, on the other hand, has some stability issues. At the top of the lift, the bar will be in a floating position where you will have to seriously concentrate on your grip and form to prevent wobble.

If you are someone who struggles with balance anyway, you might find it challenging to keep in control of the lift. If you aren't in control of the lift at the top of the movement, it can cause severe injuries and eventual problems in the hip flexors or lower back.

This can, however, be used to your advantage. If you struggle with balance issues and stability, you can drop the weight low and perform high rep sets. This will allow you to build up the stabilization muscles that you might be struggling with.

The main problem you will face if you are a beginner is finding someone to help with your form on the trap bar. Most experienced lifters are experts when it comes to the traditional deadlift and will be able to spot where you are going wrong and correct you. Many have never used a trap bar, though, which means it will be down to you to do the research and practice proper form.

2. Less Hip Activation

This point could be either seen as a negative or a positive, depending upon your specific goals and circumstances. If your goal is to lift as heavy as possible for strength training, a trap bar is a great tool.

One problem is the fact that you utilize a lot less hip stabilization during a trap bar deadlift. Standard deadlifts require you to use your hips to remain stable, and this means you are training all of the crucial muscles in your lower body.

If you are trying to build up those muscles and create a more stable core for your other lifts and the traditional deadlift, you might want to incorporate some straight bar lifts into your routine too.


Muscles Utilized in a Trap Bar Deadlift

The trap bar deadlift activates many muscles at once; this is what makes it such a powerful tool to incorporate into your training. Just be aware of fatigue when training as this is a common issue with all people who lift.

Just like the traditional deadlift, you are going to be activating:

  • Glutes 
    Deadlifting provides an awesome overload in both the gluteus medius and the gluteus maximus. These muscles are crucial for lower body strength and power.
  • Hamstrings 
    Although not as effective as the Romanian deadlift or normal deadlift, you are still going to get a great burn in your hamstrings from trap bar deadlifts. If hamstrings are a weak point for you, you might want to consider using sumo or Romanian deadlifts to bring them up to par.
  • Quadriceps 
    In terms of your quads, trap bar deadlifts engage the muscles better than any other form of deadlift. This is because the knee position allows for more stress to be placed on the quads, and you can lift with a more upright body.This is great for those that have weaker lower backs or injuries to consider, as the quads can take a lot more of the strain.
  • Erectors 
    If you have weaker lower back muscles like your erectors or are recovering from injury, trap bar deadlifts take a lot of the stress from the spine. This can help you build mass and volume without causing pain and injury.
  • Traps 
    If you want a serious workout for your traps, then the trap bar deadlift is king. The angle used for a trap bar deadlift means that these muscles will see a lot more activation compared to a traditional barbell lift.
Muscles Utilized in a Trap Bar Deadlift

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Why are trap bar deadlifts easier?

When you are performing a trap bar deadlift, the bar's path is a lot straighter. This means you can put more power into lifting and less into stabilizing. You also have a lot more engagement in your legs, which means that the large muscles like your quads and glutes can aid you a lot more.

Which is better, trap bar or barbell for deadlifts?

The traditional deadlift is one of those compound lifts that have been around for a long time, and for a good reason. It is perhaps the best exercise for training your lower back and lower body and is typically used with a barbell. The trap bar is just as effective but places more emphasis on your legs than a regular barbell deadlift. Trap bars are better for those with bad flexibility, hip or lower back problems, and beginners.

See related article: Trap Bar Vs Barbell Deadlift


Conclusion

The trap bar is a great innovation. Deadlifts are notorious for causing injury and being challenging to perform correctly. For many, the trap bar will allow you to get the same workout with fewer dangers. You can then progress onto traditional deadlifts at a later point.

Now you have all the information; you should be deadlifting like a pro in no time.


Paul J