Trap Bar for Deadlifts: What, Why and How

trap bar for deadlifts

Athletes who suffer from back problems, for example, as a result of an injury, but who still want to engage in a deadlift, can do this using a barbell that differs from the usual direct, special form (trap bar for deadlifts).

Prior to telling you how to use this bar, let’s see what advantages does it have. Thus, if you feel like it can help you, we’ll proceed to additional details.

Deadlift Performing With Trap Bar

The provided technique during exercises with a barbell (including deadlift) effectively protects the lower back from overstrain, as American sports researcher Kevin Camara found out and reported in the journal Strength and Conditioning Research. In accordance with his findings, the trap bar for deadlifts will also benefit those athletes who seek to develop speed characteristics of their lower body.

Comparative study of trap bar vs straight bar

trap bar

Scientists asked twenty experienced weightlifters to do deadlifts first with a regular straight barbell, and then with a trap bar. The trapezoidal lifting technique is obvious from the pictures.

The subjects had electrodes attached to their hips and lower back. This made it possible to assess how tightly the muscles contract during the execution of movements. Scientists also measured how quickly athletes were able to lift a weight.

It turned out that during the exercise with the trapezoidal bar, the participants intensified the muscle of the outer thigh called the vastus lateralis more intensively than when they used the straight barbell.

And during the exercise with a trapezoidal barbell, the muscles that straighten the spine (erector spinae), running along the spinal column, as well as the biceps of the thigh, worked with less stress.

During deadlifts with a trap bar, the participants in the experiment developed greater peak power [PP] and greater peak velocity [PV] than when doing this exercise with a traditional straight bar. Thus, the participants were able to complete trap bar deadlifts faster than with conventional.

Conclusion: trap bar is better for people with back injuries

Deadlifts performed with a straight bar are basic exercises, they are very popular, and athletes often do this exercise in gyms,” scientists say.

But provided it is performed with a lot of weight, it can be the most tiring exercise that negatively affects the lumbar region. For people who have injuries to the lower back or who have pain in this area, the results of this study suggest that a trapezoid bar is an excellent option for bent-over rowing, primarily because of its ability to more evenly distribute the load between all joints and reduce the load on the lumbar spine. 

On the contrary, when the goal of the training is to load the muscles of the lower back and strengthen the muscles of the back of the thigh, then the best choice is using a straight bar. Finally, a trap bar can be a more effective method to maximize strength, power, and speed during deadlifts,” – An Examination of Muscle Activation and Power Characteristics While Performing the Deadlift Exercise With Straight and Hexagonal Barbells. Kevin Camara; Jared Coburn; Dustin Dunnick; Lee Brown; Andrew Galpin; Pablo Costa; J Strength Cond Res. 2016 May;30(5):1183-8.

Trap Bar for Deadlifts: In-Depth Guide

The increase in muscle mass and an increase in leg strength are given by basic exercises – squats with a barbell and deadlift. But due to the many nuances in the technique, the elements are difficult for beginner athletes to master. Beginners often do not have developed muscles of the hips and back, which also complicates strength training and increases the risk of injury.

To safely perform basic exercises (deadlift, squat), a trap bar was developed. The projectile is a frame welded in the form of a rhombus or hexagon. On both sides, there are places for discs; inside, there are two parallel handles.

You don’t need an extra stand or power racks for a trap bar. The bar lies on the floor, and the athlete simply steps inside the frame.

How much does a trap bar weigh

trap bar deadlifts

This diamond-shaped bar for a number of basic exercises is lighter than an Olympic one. It has a length of about 160 cm and a weight of up to 15 kg.

When performing deadlifts with a trap bar, the main load is taken by the quadriceps and buttocks. The extensors of the back, the rhomboid, scapular muscles, and also the trapezoid stabilize the body. The abdominal muscles and forearms are working as well.

Nuances of technique

Most athletes using the trap bar noted that with this projectile, the deadlift becomes easier. Thanks to its construction and retention method, they could lift much larger weights.

Let’s analyze the technique of exercise:

  1. Put some discs, step inside the frame;
  2. Place your feet at shoulder level, slightly extend the socks outward;
  3. Sit down and hold onto the parallel handles;
  4. Stand upright while holding the barbell on straight arms;
  5. Spread your shoulders, raise your head;
  6. With a slow breath, simultaneously move the pelvis back, bend your legs;
  7. Touching the floor with the discs, exhale and move up;
  8. At the top point, completely straighten, hold the bar for a second before the next repetition.
trap bar deadlift weight

The classic deadlift technique involves holding the bar in front of you. Accordingly, the grip is straight. In this position, the load created by the projectile is shifted forward, which increases the tension in the lumbar. Therefore, for beginners and people with a weak back, this exercise is not recommended.

In turn, the deadlift with a trap bar, thanks to the design, allows you to maintain weight coaxially with the body line, which reduces the dangerous effect on the muscles and ligaments of the back.

The second plus of the trap bars is the creation of an unusual load. The athlete’s muscles quickly adapt to the same exercises, even basic ones. Therefore, professional athletes recommend updating the program every 4-6 months.

Using the trap bar allows you to change the usual angle of impact on the body, which “shock” the muscle fibers, stimulates them to grow. The athlete gets the opportunity to perform basic strength elements, without the need for a radical change in the training plan and increase intensity.

It is worth noting that the advantage of squatting with a trap bar over the classic element with a barbell on the back is the absence of a compression load on the spine and convenient holding of the projectile. Thanks to this, athletes can safely increase weight and progress.

How to lowers the risks

what do trap bar deadlifts work

The technique, as we see, is simple. Now we will analyze the small nuances and recommendations that make the exercise as productive and safe as possible:

  • The deadlift is the basic element. Therefore, it should be performed at the beginning of strength training.
  • Be sure to warm-up.
  • Warm-up your muscles with light cardio (5-7 minutes) and squats without weight.
  • Before power sets, do 1-2 sets without weight to find a comfortable hand position.
  • Put the trap bar on the rubberized surface of the gym. This will help reduce the noise impact of weights touching the floor.
  • Wear special footwear. A wide flat sole and a small heel will help to maintain the balance of the body.
  • Do not allow “beating.” Sharp, impact braking of the projectile on the floor affects the joints of the arms badly.
  • Avoid bringing your knees inward. If this happens involuntarily, reduce the weight of the bar.
  • Make sure that the lower back remains straight. Otherwise, the dangerous load on the lower back will increase.
  • Do not sit too low. The pelvis should always remain slightly above the knee joints.
  • Keep your eyes below 45° to the ceiling. This will help keep your back arched, and your shoulder blades flattened.
  • Control all movements. The positive and negative phases should be uniform.
  • Use auxiliary accessories: wrist straps, elastic bandages for knees, weightlifting belt.


alternative to trap bar deadlift

It is forbidden to pull the trap bar in the following diseases and conditions:

  • bone tissue pathology;
  • intervertebral hernia;
  • kyphosis and lordosis curvature of the spine;
  • bruises, sprains of the back;
  • damage to the meniscus of the knee joint;
  • shoulder injuries;
  • high blood pressure;
  • the recovery period after surgery.

In any case, if there are any diseases, we recommend that you consult a doctor.

If you are a beginner athlete, most likely, your muscles and ligaments are not yet ready for the heavy basic elements. But without power loads, building muscle mass will not work. Therefore, we recommend that you include exercises using the trap bar in the training plan.

The projectile will help strengthen the muscles, move the initial results from the “dead center” and prepare for classic squats and deadlifts.

alternative to trap bar deadlift

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