September 21, 2021 9 min read

If you’re new to the gym, chances are that you’ve seen a trap bar, also known as a hex bar, and wondered what it was for. Or, perhaps you’ve seen people using it for deadlifts and other exercises and wondered why someone would use that over a normal barbell.

Not only does this unique piece of equipment have many benefits, but it’s also perfect for a total body workout. In this article, we’ll go over the benefits of the trap bar and the best exercises to get your entire body pumped up.

Trap Bar Benefits

trap bar on the ground for strength training

Versatility

One of the most appealing aspects of the trap bar is just how much you can do with it. Unlike a barbell, the trap bar won’t get in the way when doing a lot of exercises, such as the deadlift.

Since you don’t have to worry about a bar skinning your legs while you’re using it, a lot more options are opened up to you.

The versatility of the trap bar also comes from how the weight sits on the bar itself. Unlike a barbell, where the weight is either in front or behind you, a trap bar has its weight balanced on either side of you. This gives you extra stability so you can do exercises such as lunges, or a farmer’s walk.

Lots of trap bars are also made with the ability to be racked. This further opens up your options as you can do things like presses and rack pulls. There are even certain trap bars that are made for performing squats.

Less Shoulder Stress

Many lifters may have shoulder or scapular issues or injuries. Because of this, they can feel uncomfortable or in pain when using a straight barbell for doing deadlifts. The trap bar helps to alleviate the discomfort caused by using a normal barbell.

The added comfort during deadlifts and similar exercises comes from the grip for the trap bar being located on your sides, rather than in front of you. This essentially gives your shoulders a little bit of slack to make the movement more comfortable.

Make Deadlifts and Similar Exercises Easier

 Many lifters do not like having to hold the weight in front of them when doing deadlifts. It can cause discomfort and can rip up your shins. A trap bar eliminates this by putting the load of the weights on your sides, as opposed to right in front of you. Additionally, some lifters have said that gripping with a trap bar is easier because of the way it’s made.

The handles help those with reduced hip movement to easily grasp it and thus do deadlifts easier, or at least learn how to do them. Ultimately, an easier deadlift means that you’ll have less of a chance of causing a back injury or lifting with bad form and won’t need lots of pre-workout to get through your routine.

Trap Bar Exercises

Now that you know about the trap bar’s benefits, it’s time to get into the 7 best exercises for it.

1. Trap Bar Deadlift

Starting off with the classic deadlift, this is an exercise that works pretty much your entire body. Not only does it work your legs, but it also works your back and shoulders as well. The deadlift is one of the best exercises you can do if you’re looking to pack on mass just because of how many muscles are used during it.

Another great thing about a trap bar deadlift is that it’s both perfect for lifters starting out and can be helpful for those who are looking to perfect their barbell deadlift form. If you are worried about injuries, then the trap bar deadlift is another good choice for you. The limited range of motion while doing this exercise can help reduce the amount of strain put on the lower back, specifically the lumbar, while lifting heavy weight.

How To Do A Trap Bar Deadlift

 

  1. First things first, you need to step inside of the trap bar, then set your feet so that they’re shoulder-width apart. 
  1. While in the starting position, squat down and grip the handles of the trap bar. Remember, your hands should be gripping the middle of the bar. 
  1. Next, you’ll want to make sure that your shoulders are pulled down to ensure that they don’t do all of the work. Make sure that you stick your chest up and out, with your back flat and straight. 
  1. After that, it’s time to lift the weight. Push through your feet and when the trap bar gets slightly above your knees, stand all the way up. 
  1. Lower the weight with as much control as you can. Once the weight is back on the ground, wait for a second or two before going for your next rep. 

2. Trap Bar Bent Over Row 

    The bent over row is an excellent exercise for any lifter who’s looking to focus on their lats and upper back. On top of that, this exercise is also helpful for those who might experience back pain.

    Unlike a barbell row, The elevated handles make it so you don’t have to hinge over so far with your hips, meaning you don’t have to support the weight as much. Also, because of the way the bar is shaped, it’s easy to know if you’re doing the exercise right as the bar will get in your way if you’re doing it wrong.

    Your back and form aren’t the only things that will benefit from this as well. If you want to go easier on the elbows, you can use a neutral grip to keep your elbows closer to your sides. This will make sure that your elbow joints aren’t under as much stress as with normal rows. 

    How To Do A Trap Bar Bent Over Row

        1. Stand in the center of the trap bar, make sure that your feet are about shoulder-width apart. 
        1. Now, hinge at the hips and bend over to grab onto the handles. 
        1. While holding onto the handles of the trap bar, make sure you keep your chest, that your back is straight, and push your butt back. 
        1. Now, using your back muscles, pull the bar up. When at the top of the rep, hold it for a second. Squeeze your lats a little bit to really feel the effect of this exercise.  
        1. Finally, to finish off the rep, let the weight down slowly. 

        3. Trap Bar Farmers Walk 

          The farmer’s walk is one of those exercises that really emphasizes building practical strength. If you’ve ever wanted to pick up a lot of groceries at once and bring them home in one trip, this is the way to train for it. It’s quite straightforward and pretty easy to do. 

          It’s a full-body exercise that allows you to load more weight onto the lift than a typical farmers walk using a kettlebell or a dumbbell. It is particularly fantastic at building up grip strength and when using the trap bar you won’t have to worry about the awkwardness of using things like dumbbells as the trap bar has a wide grip. 

          Additionally, your shoulders will be more stable with a trap bar, than with barbells. Again, this is due to the structure of the trap bar. Essentially, the dumbbells or kettlebells won’t be swinging around freely as they dangle from your arms. 

          How To Do A Trap Bar Farmer’s Walk

           

          1. Step inside of the trap bar with the appropriate weight loaded on. 
          1. Now, grab the high handles of the trap bar. 
          1. For the next step, you’ll basically have to do a deadlift to get the bar up. Make sure you’re practicing good form! 
          1. Now that you’ve got the bar up, it’s time to start walking. While you’re walking remember not to slouch. Keep that back straight and chest up! Also, keep your chin in too. Don’t hurry, focus on taking small steps, taking big steps can throw you off balance. 
          1. Now all you have to do is keep walking until you reach a certain distance, or if you’ve got a timer running you can just keep going until that runs out. Then it’s just a matter of slowly putting the weight down with as much control as you can. 

          4. Trap Bar Overhead Press

            The overhead press, sometimes just simply known as the shoulder press, is an upper-body exercise that is made to give your shoulders a very broad, defined look. However, the exercise by itself can lead to shoulder injury if not done carefully. That’s where the use of the trap bar comes in handy. 

            One of the benefits of using a trap bar for the overhead press is that the grip actually puts your shoulders in a more natural position for the exercise, unlike when using a straight bar.

            This helps decrease the chance of shoulder injury, or shoulder pain piling up over time. Additionally, if you already experience shoulder pain, the natural grip we mentioned can help to alleviate the tension caused by it. 

            How To Do A Trap Bar Overhead Press

             

            1. Ideally, you’ll want to have a power rack or something similar in order to load the trap bar. If you don’t have something like this, it can be very dangerous to attempt the exercise. This is because you’ll need to have the bar set at about your shoulder height in order to properly attempt it. 
            1. Now, you’ll step inside the trap bar. Remember to watch your head as you step in. 
            1. Place your hands and grip the neutral handles. 
            1. With a firm grip on the handles, inhale and brace your core. Now, press the bar up until you’re locked out. Breathe out when you lock out and pause for a moment at this point. 
            1. Bring the bar down as slowly as you can. Letting the bar down too fast can cause injury. 

              5. Trap Bar Floor Press

                Many people make use of the floor press as an accessory to the normal bench press. A floor press is a great exercise for building up tricep strength as well as shoulder strength as it doesn’t demand as much work from your chest. It is also used as a way to increase the lockout strength for your bench press. 

                The trap bar floor press has many of the same benefits as a normal floor press. However, the biggest benefit of using a trap bar floor press is that there won’t be any possibility of shoulder rotation during the exercise. Shoulder rotation will ultimately cause injury if you’re not careful. 

                How To Do A Trap Bar Floor Press

                 

                It should be noted that, for this exercise, you don’t need a power rack to do it. However, it makes it a lot easier and safer than rolling the weight over your face and chest. That being said, we’ll be going over the form with the assistance of a power rack. 

                1. Lay underneath the trap bar while you have it set up on the power rack. You’ll either have to use the bottom rung of the rack, or even use the end of the bail bar for this. 
                1. Grip the trap bar by the neutral handles. Make sure that your knees are bent and that your feet are flat on the floor. 
                1. Now, it’s time to lift the bar off of the rack, press it, and then let it come down slowly. The last thing you want to do is smash your elbows against the floor. 
                1. Then, press the bar back up to complete a rep. Do this as many times as you need. 

                  6. Trap Bar Squat

                    The trap bar squat borrows a lot of its form from the trap bar deadlift, but with a change in form, it can be used to work all of the major muscle groups in the lower body: quads, hamstrings, and glutes. You’ll definitely want a scoop of protein powder after trying this one out. Also, a trap bar squat is helpful for those with shoulder pain as you won’t have to load up a bar on your back. 

                    Alternatively, this exercise can also be done from a squat rack and more like a traditional squat. With that being said, we’ll go over both ways of how to do this so you can choose what variation works best for you. 

                    How To Do A Trap Bar Squat From The Floor

                     

                    1. First, get inside of the trap bar and assume a stance like you would with a deadlift. 
                    1. Squat down and then grab the neutral handles of the trap bar. 
                    1. This is an important step. Unlike a deadlift, you’ll want to keep your back as straight as you can, don’t hinge at the hips while you stand up. 
                    1. Brace your core and then drive with your legs until you’re completely upright. 
                    1. Lower the bar carefully to finish the rep. 

                    8. Trap Bar Push-Up 

                      The trap bar push-up is an interesting exercise in that it works to build both your chest and biceps. You can also add weight to the trap bar for an extra challenge as you’ll have to balance while you’re doing it. 

                      How To Do A Trap Bar Push-Up 

                       

                      1. Lay an empty trap bar on the ground. 
                      1. Get into a push-up position and grab the handles
                      1. Now simply perform a push-up. 

                      Final Thoughts 

                      As you can see, the trap bar is a very versatile tool when it comes to weightlifting. It can help make a lot of exercises safer, preventing a myriad of injuries and even relieving the pain in the shoulders or back. We highly recommend you add these trap bar exercises to your workout routine whether you’re bodybuilding or training for powerlifting.


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