What Is Proper Trap Bar Deadlift Form — Variations, Benefits, and Common Mistakes

Proper Trap Bar Deadlift Form

Practicing good form is vital for any exercise, including the trap bar deadlift.

And though trap bar deadlifts are similar to other types of deadlifts, like straight bar deadlifts, they have key differences in form that you should know in order to reap the benefits of this exercise. 

The hexagonal, or hex for short, bar offers a different grip and weight load placement than the barbell deadlift. This means that there will be a more upright torso position than the conventional barbell deadlift, placing more tension in the quads.

You should know other important form tips for the trap bar deadlift to practice quality form and engage the targeted muscles for this exercise. 

Continue reading for productive tips and information on proper trap bar deadlift form! 

Proper Trap Bar Deadlift Form – How to Workout Safely and Avoid Injury 

Though similar, trap bar deadlift form differs from straight bar deadlifts. We will detail how to practice quality trap bar deadlift form to reap the benefits of this powerful exercise and to place less stress on the joints and ligaments to avoid injury. Continue reading to find out what good hex bar deadlift form is!

Hex Bar Deadlift Proper Form

For the trap bar deadlift, it is important to maintain proper form to avoid possible injury. This goes for any exercise since prioritizing form prevents unnecessary strain on the muscles, joints, and other body parts that could result in injury. 

The hex bar and conventional deadlift have similar starting positions, such as the position for hip width, but there are dissimilarities between the two. One significant difference is that the trap bar deadlift requires a more upright torso position than the conventional barbell deadlift. 

Important notes on proper form for trap bar deadlifts:

  • Keep your knees in line with your feet to avoid wobbling and losing control of your knees.
  • Press your shoulder blades down and back, pushing your chest out a little, and engage the abs to protect the spine.
  • Ensure your arms are straight throughout the movement.
  • Prioritize a neutral spine with the back flat and gaze aligned with the movement pattern. This means no arching the neck to look in the mirror, and no arching or hunching the back. 
  • Drive your feet into the floor, prioritizing muscle activation to engage power and strength for a quality lift.  
  • Maintain a slight bend in the knees for the hip hinge movement pattern of the trap bar deadlift until you reach the top of the movement  and you come to a full standing starting position. 

Ideal Position for Tall Lifters

The hexagonal bar is ideal for tall lifters thanks to its grip adjustments of low and high handles. Taller people find that performing a trap bar deadlift with high handles is ideal for the range of motion compared to the low handles, which can feel more like a deficit pull.

This is impossible for taller people when performing straight bar deadlifts, as there is only one place to grip the bar. This is another reason why trap bar deadlifts can be great for taller individuals—it allows them to practice proper form without raising the risk of injury when moving  through a broader range of movement or if any mobility or flexibility issues prevent a wider movement pattern. 

Image of a tall person performing a hexagonal bar deadlift:

How to Perform a Trap Bar Deadlift

Now that you know the proper trap bar deadlift form, we’ll walk you through how to perform this beneficial exercise. It’s time to get in the starting position! 

Step 1 — Step into the Trap Bar

Step inside the hexagonal bar and stand in the center to get into the starting position to perform a trap bar deadlift. Place your feet shoulder-width apart in a ready stance with knees slightly bent. 

Step 2 — Get Set to Pull

Now that you’re in the starting position, it’s time to get set to pull the hexagonal bar. Position your shoulder blades down and back, pushing your chest out slightly to maintain a neutral spine position to protect the lower back. 

Add a slight bend to the knees as you hinge at the hips, pushing your butt back to bend down to grasp the handles of the bar in a neutral grip. Keep your arms straight throughout the movement. 

Step 3 — Lift The Trap Bar

You are ready to lift the hex bar!

Brace your core, engage your muscles, and maintain a neutral position. Drive your feet through the floor to pull the weight plates off the floor to come to a standing position. 

Step 4 — Lower the Weight

Next, staying braced, lower the weight plates and hex bar back to the floor by hinging at the hips. This is one repetition. 

Key Differences – Trap Bar Deadlift vs. Traditional Barbell Deadlift

The trap bar and the barbell deadlift are a great exercise to add to your gym routine, but it’s important to note the difference to cater these exercises to your fitness goals. 

The conventional barbell deadlift can be difficult for novice lifters to learn and maintain heavy weights. With the bar position paired with limitations of double overhand grip or mixed grip, weight tends to travel forward, making it challenging to maintain one’s grip when lifting a heavy load. Another component to consider is how much the barbell weighs and where it is carried, further making it more understandable why the placement of the bar with added weights can make it difficult to maintain one’s grip during a lift. 

More tension is placed on the lumbar spine with barbell deadlifts, which can be unideal for individuals with back issues. There is more hip hinge in traditional barbell deadlifts, with less quad dominance and a lowered torso position compared to the more upright posture of a hex bar deadlift. 

In comparison, the trap bar deadlift places less stress on the erector spinae with a more upright back position. This engages the quad muscles more and makes it easier to improve grip strength thanks to the neutral grip positioning. Studies have shown that it is more accessible to lift greater loads and with a larger power output in trap bar deadlifts than in barbell deadlifts. 

Image of a man performing a trap bar deadlift vs. a traditional barbell deadlift
Image from https://www.setforset.com/blogs/news/trap-bar-vs-barbell-deadlift

How To Use The Trap Bar Deadlift In Your Workouts

Now that you know the proper form for trap bar deadlifts, you must know how to use them in your workouts. Check out these helpful tips on how to get the most out of trap bar deadlifts below! 

Building Better Posture

The trap bar deadlift can help build the posterior chain and improve posture with proper technique. 

The trap bar deadlift has a more upright posture than a traditional barbell deadlift, which helps reduce strain on the erector spinae, making it safer for preventing back injuries. Even though the form and load placement are different, the trap bar deadlift still actively incorporates the posterior chain, which consists of the rear muscles such as the hamstrings, glutes, and back. 

Heavy Weight, Lower Volume

The trap bar deadlift is an excellent exercise for lifters to lift heavy weight at a lower volume. This training style is beneficial for increasing strength thanks to the heavier load and lower repetitions, which is excellent for crossfitters, athletes, powerlifters, or anyone looking to achieve these improvements.  

It is recommended to perform heavier lifts at the beginning of your workout to better source energy for the liftrather than when it has been depleted at the end or middle of the workout. 

Lower Body Exercise

Adding the hex bar deadlift into your gym routine will be one of the best moves you can make to strengthen your legs and posterior chain. 

A powerful exercise full of benefits, the trap bar deadlift activates the quadriceps more than the straight bar deadlift. And not just by a small margin but a significantly large one. This means that if you want to strengthen your legs, you’ll want to add this exercise to your lower body days to reap the benefits. 

Improve Power For Athletes

For years, the trap bar deadlift has been incorporated into athlete conditioning regimens to enhance power and explosiveness. 

Athletes need to practice explosive movements to train the body to perform at its highest capabilities. Whether for improving vertical jump, training the legs for explosiveness, or incorporating sport-specific strength, the trap bar deadlift is a beneficial addition as an exercise overall. 

Image of a proper hex bar deadlift. This exercise is a great way to strengthen your hamstrings, glutes, back, and core.
Image from https://fitnessvolt.com/trap-bar-vs-barbell-deadlift/

Try These Trap Bar Deadlift Variations

Want to test out different variations of trap bar deadlifts? Give these trap bar deadlift variations a try to upgrade your workouts! 

Romanian Trap Bar Deadlift

The Romanian trap bar deadlift is merely a Romanian deadlift performed with a hex bar. The movement will feel different because of the change in grip positioning and weight load distribution, but it will still effectively incorporate the posterior chain muscles.  

Low/High Grip Trap Bar Deadlift

We previously discussed how the high handles can be productive for taller individuals looking to practice a normal range of motion. The high handlebar grip on the hexagonal bar can also be excellent for beginners just learning to incorporate the movement pattern into their routine. 

The low handlebar grip can be used after adjusting to the high bar grip to strengthen the muscles through a regular range of motion. The lower positioning of the handlebars makes it more accessible to incorporate a broader range of motion to improve mobility and strengthen the muscles through this wider movement pattern. 

Paused Trap Bar Deadlift

The paused trap bar deadlift is a great time under-tension variation of this exercise. Time under tension is a technique used in training to help add intensity to an exercise, emphasizing the muscles under a weighted load. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Weight Should I Use in The Trap Bar Deadlift?

That weight you use for a trap bar deadlift solely depends on you, your goals, and your current fitness level. For example, if you’re a beginner in the gym, it wouldn’t make much sense to have you put on 45lb bumper plates on each side of the trap bar. It would likely be too heavy, the proper form wouldn’t be prioritized, and the risk of injury would significantly increase. 

Starting small is highly advised to get accustomed to the new exercise before moving to heavier weights. 

Are Trap Bar Deadlifts Easier Than a Conventional Barbell Deadlift?

Trap bar deadlifts are often easier to teach beginners than a straight bar deadlift. The placement of the barbell at the front makes it difficult to maintain one’s grip as the weight shifts forward to roll out of your hands. On the other hand, the trap bar deadlift is ideal because of the neutral grip placement, which deters this issue. 

Does Trap Bar Deadlift Work Your Back?

The trap bar deadlift is a great exercise for hitting the back muscles. The trapezius and the latissimus dorsi of the mid and lower back are engaged during the trap bar deadlift. These muscle groups are part of the posterior chain, the muscles in the rear of the body. 

Should I Use High or Low Handles?

If you’re a taller individual or a beginner, we recommend using the high handles for a trap bar deadlift. For taller individuals, the higher handlebars will help to incorporate a normal range of motion rather than what would feel like a deficit pull with the low handles. 

Beginners will benefit from the high handle in order to grow accustomed to the new movement pattern before moving to the low handles with a more challenging range of motion. The low handles are great for more experienced individuals with good mobility to perform heavier repetitions in a deeper range. 

What Muscles Are Worked on a Trap Bar Deadlift?

The trap bar deadlift hits many muscle groups, especially in the posterior chain, for an ideal exercise to add to your workout routine. This prominent muscle-engaging exercise strengthens the adductors, gastrocnemius, and abdominal muscles as secondary to the quadriceps and back muscles as primary mover muscles. 

Wrap Up 

Prioritizing proper form in the trap bar deadlift and any other exercise is crucial to preventing potential injuries. 

With proper form, you are actively engaging the targeted muscle groups in a healthy range of motion to receive the benefits of strengthening these muscles. On the other hand, poor form can lead to muscular imbalances and unnecessary stress on joints and ligaments, leading to avoidable injuries. Use this article to actively incorporate proper form with trap bar deadlifts and upgrade your workouts for stronger legs, posterior chain, and overall you! 

Kaelyn Buzzo | ISSA CPT & Nutrition Coach

Kaelyn Buzzo | ISSA CPT & Nutrition Coach

I am an ISSA-certified CPT and Nutrition Coach with a BA in Creative Writing and a Minor in Nutrition.

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