Trap Bar vs Barbell Deadlift: Which One is Better for You in your Home Gym?
You are wondering if you should do trap bar deadlifts or barbell deadlifts!
Then I can surely help you, as a home gym owner it was about saving my lower back or saving money.
I have a lower back problem, thus when I do barbell deadlifts, it puts stress and I feel some pain thereafter.
RDL does not help much too.
Staggered deadlifts are ok.
This study also mentions, if the goal is to strengthen the lower back and hamstrings, then the conventional dl style is the best.
But if you do not have any issues like me, then conventional deadlifts and Romanian deadlifts are the best way to train.
For a healthy person, I do not see any drawbacks in them.
Now go, pull that weight up from the ground.
✨ What is deadlifting?
Deadlifting is a weightlifting exercise where you pull a loaded barbell from the floor to the standing position.
This exercise is a powerful way to strengthen all the major muscle groups on the back of the body and is typically seen in powerlifting competitions and strongman events.
There are two main types of deadlifts – conventional and sumo stances – and the exercise works by extending the lower back, hip, knee, and ankle joints.
Deadlifting is also a great life skill, as it teaches proper form for picking up heavier objects safely and efficiently.
😊 What are the differences between trap bars and barbell deadlifts?
Trap Bar vs Barbell Deadlift: Grip
The grip used for trap bars and barbell deadlifts has some differences.
The trap bar is held with the palms facing each other in a neutral position, while the straight bar can be held with either a double overhand grip (which is the hardest on the grip but excellent for developing grip strength).
Or a mixed grip, with one hand overhand and the other in the opposite direction (which is stronger than double overhand).
The mixed grip can also be used to prevent the bar from slipping out of hands.
But I often pull my biceps with a mixed grip, so I never do it.
The trap bar benefits from neutral handles, meaning that the bar is not trying to roll out of the hands, and grip strength will not be as much of a limiting factor.
All things being equal, most people can pull more weight using a trap bar compared to a barbell, due to its range of motion, grip positioning, and leverage.
So if you want to increase your grip strength or have some focus on it, then go for the conventional dl style.[Check the benefits of doing BB thrusters.]
Trap Bar vs Barbell Deadlift: Stance and body mechanics
When it comes to stance and body mechanics for trap bar and barbell deadlifts, there are notable differences.
With a barbell deadlift, you need to set up behind the bar and keep it close to your body during the lift, dragging it up your shins as you push the ground away.
Shin scratches are very common, many would wrap some crepe around their shins for that.
This close proximity and high leverage should make each rep smooth sailing.
For the trap bar deadlift, however, you lift from “within” the bar.
You can’t drag anything up along your body, so you’ll need other cues to maintain the right path.
Making sure to engage your lats the same way you do with a barbell can help you maintain a good position and keep the quality of movement.
In terms of body position, a trap bar deadlift will have you with an upright torso and a flat back, while your knees come further forward and your hips can sit lower.
This can enable you to lift more weight than a BB deadlift.
As per this study, hexagonal barbells/ trap bar influences the range of motion, and lower peak moments in the spine, hip, and ankle. Which enables you to lift more weight, faster.
The barbell deadlift requires more technical skill and mobility, while the trap bar deadlift is simpler and easier to learn.
Lastly, quad activation tends to be a bit higher for the trap bar deadlift, while hamstrings and spinal erector activation tend to be higher for the conventional deadlift.
When comparing trap bar deadlifts and barbell deadlifts, safety should be a major consideration.
Trap bar deadlifts are considered safer than their barbell counterparts due to the fact that they allow the lifter to maintain a more upright torso, reducing the stress placed on the lumbar spine.
Since I do have some low back pain, I can say for sure this is the case.
And the researches done by the likes of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, and separate universities like this are exactly right.
In their own words –
Additionally, trap bar deadlifts can be done without a squat rack and with less stress placed on the biceps.
I would still suggest a crash pad to drop the weights safely, without breaking the floor.
However, some studies have found that barbell deadlifts allow for heavier lifting and higher levels of mechanical load.
Ultimately, the best exercise for you will depend on your goals, preferences, and any history of back injuries or poor mobility.
If you have any lumbar spine discomfort or injury, the trap bar deadlift may be the safer and more comfortable option.
Barbell deadlifts and trap bar deadlifts can both be used to develop power output, but the trap bar deadlift has been found to be more effective.
This is also why you will see athletes who need explosive power train with the trap bars.
Just ask the Garage Strength people. 🙂
Another study found when testing 1RM for both variations, the trap bar deadlift produced significantly higher mean force, velocity, power, total work, and time spent accelerating.
These studies also comment that trap bar deadlifting has a similar spine and hip-hinge movement to conventional DL.
This furthers the case that trap bar DLs may have a more direct carryover to athletic performance than barbell deadlifts.
Therefore, it can be concluded that if power development is your training goal, the trap bar deadlift is a better choice than the conventional barbell deadlift.
Trap Bar vs Barbell Deadlift: Weight lifted
In a barbell deadlift, the importance is held in front of the body, whereas in the trap bar deadlift, the lifter stands inside the hexagon of the trap bar and holds the handles by their sides.
Studies have shown that you can lift around 15% more weight with the trap bar deadlift than with the barbell deadlift.
However, the standard deadlift is slightly more effective in recruiting the posterior chain muscles, while the trap bar deadlift is easier on the spine and engages more of the quadriceps.
This research published in the year of 2019 advises using a conventional deadlift with bands to increase lower back activation.
Ultimately, which exercise is better for you will depend on your preference.
Trap Bar vs Barbell Deadlift: which has more Variations
The trap bar deadlift also gives you more options for grip, allowing you to place your hands on the handles or the sides of the bar for different exercises.
This Leeway hex bar has three grip width options.
But most bars only have one grip option though.
Other than this, all the barbell variations of deadlifts can be done with trap bars.
So none has more variations.
Ultimately, both exercises provide a great workout, but the trap bar deadlift gives you the added benefit of power generation, more weight-lifting capability, and safety.
Trap Bar vs Barbell Deadlift: Hinge Pattern
The hinge pattern is a fundamental movement pattern in weightlifting, and it is essential to the successful execution of both trap bars and barbell deadlifts.
For some barbells, deadlifts will be easier with a proper hip hinge because of the straightforward bar path, while for others, reinforcing the hinge pattern with trap bar deadlifts can be more effective due to the decreased range of motion.
Ultimately, it is important to take it slowly and prioritize proper form in order to discover what option works best for each individual.
Trap Bar vs Barbell Deadlift: Quad Activation
The trap bar deadlift and the barbell deadlift differ in terms of quad activation.
The trap bar deadlift places more emphasis on the quads and typically results in a higher degree of muscle activation in the quads than the barbell deadlift.
This 2022 study tells practitioners to mind the starting positing when using any hex bar variation to divert muscle activation. A hex bar will naturally focus on quads more.
So if you want to do deadlifts be careful not to turn them into barbell squats.
On the other hand, the barbell deadlift emphasizes the posterior chain and is more effective at recruiting the hamstrings and back muscles.
While both exercises are compound movements that engage several joints and muscle groups to lift the weight, the trap bar deadlift is more knee/quadriceps dominant, while the barbell deadlift works the hips and back more.
Trap Bar vs Barbell Deadlift: Hamstrings Activation
The trap bar and barbell deadlift both affect the hamstrings, though the barbell deadlift typically activates the biceps femoris (the hamstrings) more than the trap bar deadlift. (Refer this study here)
Which needs more Flexibility?
The flexibility of the trap bar and barbell deadlift differ in several ways. The handles of the trap bar are slightly higher and easier to reach, making it less demanding in terms of hip mobility.
Barbell deadlifts, on the other hand, require a good amount of hip mobility in order to effectively complete the lift.
Quad activation is also higher for the trap bar deadlift, while hamstrings and spinal erector activation tend to be higher for the conventional deadlift.
Furthermore, due to the resistance being in closer proximity to the midline, the trap bar deadlift is less stressful on the low back than barbell deadlifts.
So in short, trap bars are easy to do even if you live a sedentary life. But doing the conventional dl or RDLs, you will need to learn them and progress with them slowly.
Mobility work is essential for both trap bar and barbell deadlifts though.
Trap Bar vs Barbell Deadlift: Posterior Chain Engagement
All the studies that I have been through, all the studies mentioned in this article, always mention that BB deadlifts activate the erector spine more than any other variants.
The barbell deadlift is known to better target the posterior chain, engaging the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles more than the trap bar deadlift.
The trap bar deadlift is slightly more quadricep-dominant and reduces lower back recruitment.
It is important to note, however, that both exercises will heavily recruit the muscles of the posterior chain, it is just that the barbell deadlift recruits more.
Trap Bar vs Barbell Deadlift: Hypertrophy
The difference in hypertrophy between trap bar and barbell deadlifts lies in the muscle activation patterns that occur between the two exercises.
Trap bar deadlifts are more knee/quadriceps dominant, while the barbell deadlifts work mostly on the hips and back.
To maximize hypertrophy, it is important to choose the movement that best targets the muscles you want to work on and to adjust your programming accordingly.
For maximum hamstring growth, barbell deadlifts are the best choice, but for overall back strength and hypertrophy, both versions can be effective.
Athletes often do BB deadlifts for strength and hypertrophy. Do single-leg workouts to equal out muscle imbalances.
And for lower body power and speed use the trap bar deadlifts.
Many would say, the trap bar deadlift is a type of squat with the arms down by the sides, engaging more of the quadriceps muscles.
But adjust the angle of your body while doing it and you can hit your hamstrings, glute and lower back with it.
On the other hand, the barbell deadlift requires more hip flexion and a more forward lean, which increases posterior chain engagement and makes the exercise more of a back exercise than a leg exercise.
Both exercises are effective ways to build muscle and strength.
But they activate the muscles in a slightly different way.
Choose the one that best matches your training goal.
I would choose hip thrusts for the glutes, and trap bars for the hamstrings as I have some mobility issues and low back pain.
🏋️♂️ What should you do for the Competition?
If you are looking to compete in a powerlifting competition, there are certain exercises you need to be able to do in competition style.
The three main lifts you need to know for a powerlifting competition are squat, bench press, and deadlift.
All three of these lifts require the use of a straight barbell, so you will need to train with one in order to be able to compete.
Trap Bar Deadlift vs Barbell Deadlift: What’s Better For Athletes?
In a study from 2017, it was found that the trap bar deadlift had more significant numbers in mean force, velocity, power, and total work than the barbell deadlift.
Hex bars deadlift was 15% faster, and has 36% longer acceleration period. Meaning you can load as heavy as conventional deadlifts, and do the same range of motion but faster with a long accelerated motion.
And another study from 2016 confirms that hex bar deadlifts are superior to regular deadlifts when it comes to power, maximal force, and velocity.
This implies that the trap bar deadlift may be more beneficial for athletes who are looking to improve their performance.
On the other hand, the barbell deadlift is better for lifters competing in strength sports, as it is seen in competition.
For back strength you can consider the barbell row – it is best for what it does.
Which is more available?
Only a few commercial gym have those hex bars, and most of them will surely have a straight barbell.
This means that barbell deadlifts are more available for people who want to train at the gym, making them the clear choice for anyone looking for accessible and consistent exercise.
✅ Which you can learn easily?
The trap bar deadlift is often an easier exercise for beginners to learn due to the two sets of handles, a set of low handles at the traditional height and a set of high handles for easier lifting.
It also allows for a neutral grip, making it easier to lift heavier loads.
On the other hand, the barbell deadlift has a more straightforward bar path and may be easier to learn for some people with a proper hip hinge.
Ultimately, which exercise is easier to learn will depend on the individual and their body type, learning strategies, and overall strength.
To achieve the best results, it is important to take it slowly, prioritize form, and experiment with both barbell and trap bar deadlifts to determine which works best for you.
What are the benefits of performing a trap bar deadlift?
Less Stress on the Lower Back
Performing a trap bar deadlift reduces stress on the lower back by enabling the lifter to maintain an upright torso position, thus shifting some of the load away from the back and hips and onto the legs.
The trap bar also places the resistance closer to the midline of the body, which further reduces the strain on the spine.
Additionally, it helps to keep the spine in a flat position by allowing the knees to move forward and take some of the load away from the hips.
Finally, it helps to maintain proper spinal alignment from top to bottom, reducing the risk of injury.
Trap Deadlifts Are Stupid Easy to Learn
Trap bar deadlifts are a great alternative to the conventional straight bar deadlift, especially for those who find the latter difficult due to their body proportions.
It is easier to learn than the straight bar deadlift, as it takes only one session and does not require finding one’s balance as the bar is not in front of your legs.
Additionally, the trap bar deadlift is also adaptable to lifters of different ability levels, as there are progressions to consider in order to master the exercise.
This is beneficial for those with insufficient hip ROM, as they can still practice the lift without having to compensate with spinal flexion.
Learn easily even with several physical issues
The neutral grip and design of the trap bar help to put the lifter in a more comfortable and safe position, allowing them to lift with proper form without putting too much tension on their back.
With modifications and progressions, the trap bar deadlift can be used as an effective tool to help improve overall strength and mobility.
👴🏻73 year old guy, after knee surgery, is doing trap bar dl without any issues.
So what’s stopping you?
Less Spinal Activation
Performing a trap bar deadlift can reduce spinal flexion by moving some of the weight away from the back and hips and onto the legs, as well as allowing for a more upright torso position during the lift. ✅
For people with back pain, trap bar deadlift is for you.
Additionally, performing posterior expansion drills as part of the warm-up can further reduce spinal flexion by encouraging a slightly collapsed spinal position and helping athletes achieve a more neutral pulling position in the trap bar deadlift.
These drills essentially force spinal flexion while belly breathing or chest breathing, with the intent of expanding posteriorly.
The lack of hyperextension in the trap bar deadlift refers to the fact that the barbell is not in front of the hips, meaning that there is no counterbalance to hyperextend against or push off.
With a trap bar deadlift, you are just standing tall.
In the traditional deadlift, hyperextension at the top of the lift can increase the risk of injury to the back.
However, the hexagonal bar (or trap bar) eliminates this risk as there is no need to pull the bar up against the thighs.[Get Weightlifting belts to protect your spine]
Performing a trap bar deadlift helps develop strength-speed by targeting strength-speed adaptations using the Trap Bar Deadlift at between 75-85% 1RM.
Furthermore, utilizing Velocity Based Training (VBT) can help to encourage maximal efforts and improve strength speed by aiming for between 0.55 – 0.8 m/s during various loads on the trap bar.
Trap bar jumps are also useful for developing strength speed as they allow the movement to be performed at higher forces and velocities.
High Handles and Neutral Grip
The trap bar deadlift takes advantage of high handles and a neutral grip for improved mobility, flexibility, and balance.
The neutral grip of the handles prevents the bar from slipping out of your hands, and the high handles allow you to achieve the correct starting position with less strain on your joints and spine.
Moreover, the neutral grip eliminates any risk of mixed grip imbalances found in conventional deadlifts.
The neutral grip also reduces the amount of grip strength required, allowing you to train your back and leg muscles more efficiently before your grip gives out.
And depending on the orientation, there are two types of handles on each end, one elevated higher than the other.
You can pull “high handle” or “low handle” depending on your preference. Many use the low handle for farmer carry walks. 👍
Transition to Everyday Life
Performing a trap bar deadlift can help us transition our skills to everyday life by improving our grip and weight position.
When we practice lifting and carrying items with the same grip and weight position that we use when performing the trap bar deadlift, it can help us develop proper form and mechanics that will be useful in our everyday lives.
For example, when lifting and carrying things such as luggage, groceries, or a gym bag, it is important to lift and carry items from our sides, rather than from the front of our shins, which is how we would position ourselves when performing the deadlift.
Practicing the trap bar deadlift can help us to develop and hone this skill so that when it is time to lift and carry items in everyday life, we can do so with proper form and mechanics.
No More Scraped Shins
Performing a trap bar deadlift instead of a straight bar deadlift can help prevent scuffed shins because the trap bar moves the weight away from the body, so the knurled barbell does not have to be pulled against the shins.
💪🏻 Less Risk of a Bicep Tear
Performing a trap bar deadlift reduces the risk of a bicep tear by allowing the lifter to take a neutral grip, as opposed to a mixed grip which is used for traditional barbell deadlifts.
This neutral position eliminates the risk of muscle imbalance associated with the mixed grip, and reduces any twisting forces on the torso which can lead to a bicep tear.
What are the benefits of performing a barbell deadlift?
A full-body workout
Performing a barbell deadlift is a full-body workout because it not only targets the lower body, but also the upper body.
You can check the table here, it mentions all the muscles activated during various deadlift variations.
It’s a compound lift that works for many muscle groups, making it a great exercise for building strength and muscle mass.
The barbell deadlift will work your hips, hamstrings, and lower back all at once, making it a great exercise for developing total body strength.
The barbell deadlift fits into the spectrum of accessible exercises by providing an effective way to build strength and work your major muscle groups.
It’s a more advanced exercise, however, compared to the trap bar deadlift, as it requires better technique in order to properly lift the bar from the floor.
Performing a barbell deadlift can add variety to the deadlift by introducing different techniques and benefits compared to the trap bar deadlift.
Rack pull, RDL, etc are the most popular variety of deadlifts! You can also do as paused reps, deadlifting from a deficit, or use different grips to make the exercise more challenging.
A Powerlifting Standard
Powerlifting is a strength sport that involves executing specific exercises with a barbell.
The most basic and traditional lift is the barbell deadlift, which is a standard exercise in the powerlifting world.
The benefit of performing a barbell deadlift as a powerlifting standard is that it will provide you with a strong base to build upon as you work to increase your strength and power.
This will enable you to effectively progress with other powerlifting exercises in the future.
Transition to All other Lifts!
Performing a barbell deadlift helps with everyday life and all other lifts by strengthening the knees and quads and improving stability.
You are just lifting up a heavy weight from the ground, this is what a deadlift is.
The familiarity you get from deadlifts will also help you move better with Olympic lifts, squats, and other athletic movements as well.
🚀 If You’re Only Going to Buy One Bar For Your Home Gym – Which one is better, trap bar or barbell deadlift?
When it comes to deciding between a trap bar and a barbell deadlift for your home gym, there’s no wrong answer.
It all depends on your individual goals and preferences.
If you’re looking for the most versatility out of your bar, then a barbell deadlift is the way to go.
Barbells are the most common type of bar and are widely available, so you can easily compare yourself to others and gauge your progress.
Even if you’re not competing in powerlifting, you can still benefit from the barbell deadlift as it engages the posterior chain more than the trap bar.
You can use the same straight bar for the landmine press, overhead press, bench press, and many other workouts.
So you are actually spending less—no need for a trap bar plus another bar.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a safe way to lift heavy with deadlifts and squats.
If you are not into buying a power rack, then a hex bar is a good option.
You might need some thick rubber flooring or crash pads though.
Btw, you should have good flooring no matter the bar you choose.
While trap bars are slightly less common than barbells, good-quality ones are available and can help you to maximize your gains.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that both lifts are excellent exercises that can help you to reach your goals.
Choosing the right tool for the job is the key to getting the best results.
What is the maximum weight load that can be used when performing a trap bar deadlift?
The maximum weight load that can be used when performing a trap bar deadlift is approximately 15% more than when using a barbell deadlift.
Studies have shown that the trap bar deadlift enables a lifter to move the greatest amount of weight possible when it comes to plate-loaded free-weight exercises.
It is recommended to use weight between 85 to 90% of your one-repetition max when performing a trap bar deadlift.
The volume and intensity of the trap bar deadlift can be adjusted depending on the desired physiological adaptation.
Yes, the trap bar deadlift is suitable for beginners, as it is less technical and easier to get into a good position with an upright torso and flat back.
The trap bar is a great place to start as it avoids the common problem of the bar scraping your shins and puts you in a better position to lift with proper form, allowing you to maintain a neutral spine.
Further, it is easier to keep the bar in front of the legs and maintain balance, making the trap bar lift a safer option for first-time weight lifters.
You can also try your hip-on-hip thrusts. It has tons of benefits as well!
The Last Rep!
Ultimately, though, both the barbell and trap bar deadlifts are excellent exercises for developing strength and power, and the choice of which one to use will depend on the individual’s comfort and fitness level.
In this battle of hex bar vs barbell deadlift, if you have the money, then you can use both barbell lifts.
This is a good way to get the best of both lifts, otherwise, start with a straight bar for your home gym.