Trap-Bar Deadlifts

I’ve been doing trap-bar deadlifts lately; here’s my most recent attempt.

In case you didn’t see this on twitter, here I am in all my glory. The first take didn’t have the video rolling, hence this is a second set.

I’ve been using the trap bar much more lately for deadlifts. It feels much safer to me, makes you less prone to injure your back doing deadlifts than with a standard bar. I hadn’t been doing them all along simply because my gym didn’t have a trap bar. (My gym is very old school, with ancient equipment and paint peeling off the walls, but I like it, especially since it only costs me $23 a month.)

The trap bar allows you to keep your back straighter, or in any case it allows me to do so. I don’t feel that I’m putting a huge strain on my back using this contraption.

Another aspect is that it feels to me much more like my legs and glutes are bearing most of the force, instead of my back. You feel as if you’re driving your legs into the ground, which I think is what one should feel.

I feel that doing more reps at a lower weight is both safer and also drives muscle hypertrophy better than a 1RM type of lift.

One disadvantage to the trap bar might be that the range of motion is less than with a standard bar. However, range of motion is less important than it’s cracked up to be.

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Leave a Comment:

Simon says May 12, 2017

I can’t really criticise a guy your age lifting what you do 🙂

But yes, trap bar (at least using high handles) is a quite restricted ROM. Low handles are very much harder, becomes more of a squat-lift.

If lumbar flexibility is an issue, try switching to sumo on the Olympic bar. Greater ROM, but still easier on the back.

Re grip – I’d really advise to ditch the gloves, and get yourself some liquid chalk. It’ll make all the difference, not having that extra layer in between your skin and the bar.

Like I say, can’t criticise you at all! But just some constructive ideas.


BB Finnegan III says May 12, 2017

My $.02:

While I don’t disagree that trap bar deadlifts put less stress on the lower back, this doesn’t strike me as good thing for a healthy trainee.*

One of the big benefits of the conventional deadlift is the stress (and resulting adaption) on the lower back. By substituting with a trap bar (or pulling sumo), you’re programming less efficiently for overall strength development.

If you want to focus the load on the legs and glutes, that’s great, do low bar back squats.

I also don’t think trap bar deadlifts are necessarily safer than conventional deadlifts. A conventional deadlift executed with proper form is perfectly safe. If a trainee can’t perform the conventional deadlift with proper form, the fix is simple, back off the weight until proper form is achieved and work up from there.

*If a trainee has an injury that prevents proper form in the conventional deadlift or squat, the trap bar is an adequate substitute, but it will not be as efficient at overall strength development as a program that includes both low bar back squats and conventional deadlifts.

Andreas says May 12, 2017

Looking good! You can always stand on a couple of plates or a low box to give yourself more range of motion.

Trap-Bar Deadlifts says May 12, 2017

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Bill says May 12, 2017

Intense exercise definitely slows aging. New study from Brigham Young University:

    Nick says May 13, 2017

    That’s pretty telling, thanks for sharing it. Very interesting that low- or moderate-level of activity is not much different to sedentary. But 5 x 40 minutes of “jogging” a week is considered “high intensity”? Or that’s just the point at which they started seeing a difference.

    I wonder about how 2 x HI weight lifting and 1 HIIT session a week works out on this.

      P. D. Mangan says May 13, 2017

      On a training regime like that, Nick, you’ll live to 150.

Barrington says May 12, 2017

In the spirit of how you go into detail like not just magnesium but magnesium citrate is the best and just zinc but zinc gluconate is the best, your form on standard deadlift is the important part of the equation. Having watched both videos, the way you do trap bar is basically exactly what your form on standard should look like, but something about the grip shift hen doing standard brings a lot of guys weight too far forward of the bar. In standard your back is in a static hold, the standing up is a function of the leg and hip movement not pulling with the back. At any point if you feel you can’t hold that static position you can just open your hands and let go. I think that makes it a uniquely very safe lift. If you pay attention to your form, and your form isn’t right, let go.

Barrington says May 12, 2017

Pd I’ve done 9 consecutive blood donations now, every 8 weeks. Just did blood work for life insurance and everything was really healthy, except bilirubin was slightly out of range, not sure what that’s about, but had my first normal blood pressure reading in 8 years or so! Got it down with no medicine, just lifting, and no alcohol

M8ke says May 12, 2017

Ive switched to trap bar DL and have improved . Im lifting heavier and easier too. I changed after having debilitating back spasms after DL workout at a 70% 1rm… i am stronger now soaybe it was my back being ovrtloadd and hrowing but i spent night on floor… trapbar is the way to go. I also do shrugs with the trapbar.

Erik Ford says May 13, 2017

You can fix all your issues with a standard bar deadlift too, It is much more technical a lift than it appears, but all the comforts you talk about with the trap bar are there with the standard with small fixes to your form.

Drifter says May 13, 2017

Two thoughts…1) There’s no shame in using grip straps, especially for higher rep work. I would caution against struggling with your grip. I aggravated a nerve problem due to going to failure with my grip which set me back significantly. Straps alone may allow your overall body strength to increase significantly, especially for someone who takes sets to failure, and you can train grip separately. 2) Regarding form, if you don’t already do front squats, I would strongly recommend adding them in from time to time. And I mean rock bottom OL style using plenty of leg flare. Focus on your form, not max weights. Getting used to the hip/back position and low leg position they require had very positive carry-over to all forms of deadlift and squat, as well as posture, gait and knee/back integrity, at least for me.

George Ironthumb says May 13, 2017

Yes I agree. Just scheduled this one for my fb page hahaha nice to share your posts great value for my readers.

With that trap bar will allow you to deadlift as if you’re doing squats. works quite the same as if you’re doing zerchers

Paloma says May 14, 2017

Nice form! You look very good.

JohnD says May 15, 2017

I did not know that was called a trap bar, but that is the bar I use, for the reasons you gave, when I do deadlifts, which is. Not often of late due to knew pain..

Matt says May 22, 2017

Looking good! I’m all about the trap bar, I actually dropped traditional squats and deadlifts and replaced them with bulgarian split squats and trap bar deadlifts. My knees and back are much, much happier after the switch.

    P. D. Mangan says May 23, 2017

    Thanks, Matt!

Ole says June 3, 2017

Are deadlifts safe for someone with a history knee joint injuries and pain?

    P. D. Mangan says June 4, 2017

    Well, a cardinal rule of weightlifting is that if something hurts, stop doing it immediately. If it doesn’t hurt, then presumably no damage is being done, so I’d say it’s a matter of what a person can tolerate. Someone with that type of history would be well advised to run any exercise plan by their doctor first. Also, we tend to assume that deadlifts are going to use heavy weights, and that need not be the case; someone not used to it can start with just the bar for instance, which weighs 45 lbs (20 kg).

Bruce says November 10, 2017

for your grip try a mixed grip (one overhead, one underhand) and definitely use chalk. For a standard bar deadlift, get your hips low so that your back is neutral instead of rounded when you break off the floor.

Great website, BTW!

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