Informational Guide

Trap Bar Vs. Barbell Deadlift

Deadlifts play a major role in changing muscle composition, but when it comes to trap bar vs barbell deadlifts, what’s the difference?


To see a true transformation in your body when working out, lifting heavy is a must. Deadlifts and trap bar deadlifts play a major role in changing muscle composition.

These two key exercises force your body to grow a strong base and core, giving you a platform for all other heavy lifting. Let’s dig into why these particular exercises are so important.

1. Muscles worked

So, to pin them against one another, the trap bar will probably take the category as far as the number of muscles worked. That is not to say that it works them all as hard, but that the sheer numbers are higher.

The trap bar spreads the weight more efficiently across the body by keeping the weights closer to the lifter rather than out in front. This is more of a natural lift, and your body will use more muscles in better symmetry.

2. The Grip

Grip position is a great way to change up the muscle groups affected by deadlifts. The grip is different from the position of grip, which we will deep dive into later in this article.

  • The double overhand grip for a barbell deadlift is a traditional method of having both hands and wrists in front of the bar. The barbell would be between your palms and your legs in this configuration.
  • The mixed grip barbell deadlift is exactly what it sounds like. One hand on the outside of the barbell and one inside. This is better for lifting heavier weight. Be sure to switch up hands as to not build one muscle set more than the other.
  • The double overhand hook grip is an offshoot of the double overhand grip where your pin your thumb between your palm and the barbell you are deadlifting. This forms more of a loop and makes it possible to lift more with less grip strength. This grip can be used on a trap bar deadlift and a barbell deadlift.

3. Weight Path

A weight path is a range of motion in which the actual weights travel during the exercise. For a barbell deadlift, as well as a trap bar deadlift, the weight path will be as vertical as possible. The weights may travel further from the ground, based on the exercise, but the weight path should remain the same.

4. Hip Mobility

Some exercises will require you to bend from your hips, and some will require you to bend from the waist. Hip mobility should be the main concern with a trap bar deadlift or a barbell deadlift because that is where most of the technique will stem from. Hip mobility will change based on the grip and desired muscle group that you are working. Hips will start pushed back and up; once you begin to lift, power your hips forward, generating maximum power.

What is a Trap Bar Deadlift?

Trap bar deadlifts look similar to a traditional squat. An athlete gets into the center of the bar, squats down and grabs the handles, then extends upward. The exercise was pioneered in the mid-1980s by a man named Al Gerald. The idea was that this alternative to traditional deadlifts would not aggravate old injuries.

What Are the Benefits of Deadlifting with a Trap Bar?

  • Increased pulling strength 
    Contrary to popular belief, you do not get pulling power from your arm muscles. The combination of traps, core, shoulders, and legs are the muscle groups that provide you with pulling strength.
  • Application to weightlifting movements 
    A trap bar brings the weights closer to the body when lifting, providing better leverage with less strain.
  • Decreased lumbar stress 
    Because you are getting better leverage from your appendages when trap bar deadlifting, less stress is being directly focussed on your lower back. These muscles are still stressed for muscle building, but not to the extent that traditional deadlifts would work them.
  • Quadriceps and glute strength 
    Big butts come from big deadlifts. Squats work towards growing glute strength too. If you combine the exercises, you would get something like a squat with a deadlift mixed in. That is almost exactly how a trap bar deadlift works.
  • Supramaximal loading 
    Big muscles and big words? Yes, big weights are for both. This fancy term refers to using heavy weights to build strength and mass; lifting heavy to change your body shape by building large muscle groups bigger than they would naturally be with bodyweight exercising.

How Trap Bar Deadlift Correctly

The technique is one of those things that keeps athletes from meeting their goals as fast as they would like. You could trap bar deadlift until you were blue in the face, but it wouldn’t necessarily work very well unless you were doing it correctly.

To perform the left correctly, get into a deadlift style position with your feet and toe angle. Then, squat to grip the bar with your hips back and knees forward. This feels more like a squat but in a deadlift stance. Use your quads and legs to extend upward, but flex your core muscles to add stability. At the top of the lift, you could add a shoulder shrug before slowly ascending back to the floor.

What is a Barbell Deadlift?

Barbell deadlifts are for building overall strength. Lifting a heavy set of weights from the floor works all of your lower body and core, which are the foundation to the rest of your body. The better you become at deadlifting, the more weight you will be able to lift.

The lift was created by a circus weightlifter Hermann Goerner in the early 1800s. The name was in representation to lifting "dead weight," which had technically been around since the dawn of time.

What Are the Benefits of Deadlifting with a Barbell?

  • Results in a stronger posterior chain
    Lifting heavy barbells from the ground makes your entire body stronger. Especially the upper muscles in your legs. This muscle chain is where most of a human’s strength stems from, so it is very beneficial to build muscle in that area.
  • Increases grip strength
    Once you begin to pick heavy things up regularly, your body realizes that you may need some stronger forearms and hand muscles. Another benefit to deadlifts being an entire body workout is that these muscles build strength coincidentally.
  • Sculpts powerful, well-developed glutes
    The glutes are one of the largest muscle chains in your body. Deadlifts build muscle here more than anywhere else. Glute strength is important, and it makes your shorts fit a little better too.
  • Crafts muscular, strong hamstrings
    Hamstrings are famously pulled when someone who is not athletic thinks that they can perform an athletic maneuver. A great way to avoid humiliation like this is to deadlift. Not only will your hamstrings become strong, But they will make walking, running, or bicycling much more fun and simple.
  • Builds a 3D upper back
    Remember in my notes above that I told you to keep your chest and shoulders back? That is called form, and it will force you to use and strengthen your upper back muscles. Once these muscles are toned up from your deadlifts, the “no shirt, no service” signs will not apply to you.
  • Creates better posture
    Have you ever felt like a hunchback while sitting at your desk? Do you find your shoulders getting closer and closer to your wrists as they lay on your keyboard? That is because you have been skipping deadlifts. For better posture, perfect that form we have been talking about and carry it with you throughout your day.

How to Barbell Deadlift Correctly

To complete a deadlift, you would stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, adjacent to the barbell. You bend at your waist with your knees slightly bent, down to pick up the barbell. Then, lift the bar straight up using your core, legs, and lower back muscles.

Do not lock your knees when you do this. Go up slow and down slower for best results. Keep your chest and shoulders as far back as possible and drag the bar up, almost touching your shins on the way.

Barbell Deadlift Vs Barbell

Other Deadlift Variations

  • Romanian deadlift
    Go lightweight with a Romanian deadlift. There is no need to lift too heavy for this one. It is meant to focus strictly on hamstrings. Think of this more as a stretch than a true deadlift.
  • Snatch-grip deadlift
    This is an advanced method that is geared toward back muscle gains. Grip the barbell with your hands about double shoulder with separation, or as wide as comfortably possible. This will require a greater range of motion from the bar. Push forward with your hips and keep those shoulders back with your chest out.
  • Deficit deadlift
    This lift is for when you have maxed out all of the weights and just want to show off for your gym crush. Deadlift from on top of a plyometrics box or a plate on the ground. This will put the barbell even further from your shoulders, making you lift the bar from about your feet instead of mid-shin.
  • Sumo deadlift
    This just refers to having your grip be inside of your legs when deadlifting rather than outside. It is more of a squat technique than a deadlift, but it was worth mentioning here on our list.
  • Rack pull
    The opposite of the showoff style deficit lifts. A rack pull is when the bar is placed on a rack about knee-high. This makes the range of motion a little less. It is for getting started or trying not to aggravate an injury.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

When should you not deadlift?

Do not deadlift if you are injured! Because it is a full-body style of exercise, any injury can be aggravated by a deadlift set.

Is it okay to do deadlifts every day?

You should never do the same set of exercises every day. Give your body a chance to heal and recover. If you can physically deadlift without pain two days in a row, you did not deadlift enough on the first day.

Do deadlifts help you lose belly fat?

Deadlifting will not burn your belly fat. It will convert that fat into some muscle, as long as you are dieting properly. Belly fat is more often a dieting issue rather than a lifting issue.

Which deadlift is best for your back?

The trap bar deadlift is the best for not injuring your back. It places more stress on other muscle groups and less on the lower back. Now, if you mean best as in best for building muscle in your back, the snatch-grip deadlift will be the best.

Why do powerlifters squat more than deadlift?

Powerlifters squat more than deadlift due to grip strength. Putting a ton of weight on your shoulders is generally easier than holding it in your hands. As far as working out and repetitions, you will find powerlifters deadlifting more often than you will see them squatting at the gym.


Overall, which bar setup is the best for deadlift? Well, that will depend on your personal goals.

In the battle of trap bar deadlift vs. barbell deadlift, weightlifters would overwhelmingly choose the traditional barbell deadlift. Barbell deadlifts only require an Olympic bar and plates. It does not require a special bar, which makes it more accessible for the average individual.