The deadlift is one of those main compound lifts seen as essential by the bodybuilding community, the powerlifting community, the CrossFit community, and anyone looking to build a rock-solid core with explosive power.
Purists will tell you that you should be doing the barbell deadlift. It's an iconic lift. But are there any benefits to doing it this way? Can you get the same results by using a trap bar?
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Trap Bar Vs. Barbell: Compared For Deadlifting
What Muscles Are Worked?
As we said before, both versions of this compound lift will heavily target your posterior chain. Compound lifts are lifts that target multiple large muscle groups in a single movement. Others include the bench press, the squat, and the military press.
In regards to the standard barbell deadlift, you need to apply a counter-motion as the center of gravity of the bar is forward from you. This means you have to engage a lot of stabilization muscles in your back.
This targets your back in a hardcore way. You will get a lot more posterior chain activation, but the stress levels on your back are very high, which is what makes the barbell deadlift such an injury causer.
The trap bar deadlift, on the other hand, allows for the weight to be central. You are lifting straight upwards instead of backward slightly. This makes the trap bar deadlift heavier on the quads and hamstrings.
Verdict: Trap Bar Deadlifts target your legs more. Barbell Deadlifts target your back more.
What Grip Do You Use?
Verdict: Barbell deadlifts require a strong grip; start with the standard overhand grip before progressing into one of the more difficult versions. The trap bar deadlift has only one grip but will require you to develop your grip strength.
One of the reasons why people struggle with the traditional barbell deadlift is because they have mobility issues like a tight posterior chain or hip flexors.
Trap bars are much better suited for those with these kinds of problems. The handles are raised, meaning you have to flex less at the hip. They also allow you to live straight upwards instead of back and up.
This is a much easier motion and will allow you to really focus on that mind-muscle connection without worrying about injury or tightness.
If you want to become the master of the barbell deadlift, then you will need to make sure you prioritize working on mobility and flexibility. Standard deadlifts require you to be limber and have a perfect form, or you might injure easily.
Verdict: If you have tight muscles in your posterior chain or back, you will be better off sticking to the trap bar. If you have quad injuries or want to powerlift, stick to the traditional deadlift.
Pros & Cons Of The Trap Bar Deadlift
Pros & Cons Of The Barbell Deadlift
Trap Bar Vs. Barbell Deadlift: What Is The Difference?
Steps For Performing The Barbell Deadlift
The barbell deadlift is the original form of the exercise. Typically performed using an Olympic barbell with rubber bumper plates on either side.
- 1Position yourself with the barbell over the top of your laces and point your feet ever so slightly outwards, roughly hip-width apart.
- 2Pivot at the hips and reach down to the barbell with both hands.
- 3Grip the bar in whatever grip you have decided to use.
- 4Now bend at the knees until your shins touch the bar, then move slightly back.
- 5Now keep your spine in a neutral position and inhale and hold, stabilizing your core. Also, engage your glutes.
- 6Now, press down into the floor through your heel and pull the bar off the ground and upwards.
- 7Press down as hard as possible with your legs until the bar is above your knees.
- 8Now, push your hips forward and stabilize with the bar off the ground.
- 9Now do the same movements in reverse until the bars slides down and touches the floor.
- 10Rinse and Repeat
Steps For Performing The Trap Bar Deadlift
Trap bar deadlifts are named after the specialist bar of the same name. A trap bar has the outer structure of a hexagon with two spindles that can have weight added.
The hex is hollow, meaning you can step into it. This places you on the same mid-line as the weight and allows you to stand straight up during your deadlift.
- 1The first step is to step into the trap bar and position yourself with your feet hip-width apart. Now you need to bend at the hips and grasp the handles of the trap bar with each hand.
- 2Now you are in the correct position, you need to sit back onto your hips until you feel the pull of tension up your posterior chain and hamstrings. Once you feel this pull, you need to bring your shoulders back and down as low as they will go. Puff up your chest and tuck your chin in.
- 3Inhale, and hold, creating strength throughout your core.
- 4With explosive power, stand straight up. First, straighten your hips, then straighten your knees. Do not curve your back.
- 5Lower the bar in a controlled manner, and repeat.
Stretching & Strengthening Your Quads (Progress Your Trap Bar Deadlifts!)
Trap bar deadlifts require you to have supple and flexible quads that are primed and ready for the pain to come. Here are some straightforward yet highly effective stretches to do before or after a quad workout. This will help you progress with the trap bar deadlift.
Stretching Exercises To Help Progress Your Barbell Deadlifts
Compared to the trap bar deadlift, the conventional deadlift requires you to have a lot of upper body strength as well as lower body strength.
Here are some great stretches and exercises to implement in support of the conventional deadlift.
The deadlift is one of the oldest, most respected, yet equally feared lifts that you can do. When done right, they can improve core strength, leg strength, back strength, size, power, and mass. It really is an impressive lift, and it feels impressive to do.
Don't be put off by the potential dangers; follow our tips and tricks and the steps above, and you will be lifting like Eddie Hall in no time.