The trap bar deadlift, also known as the hex bar deadlift, is . . . wait for it . . . a deadlift performed with a trap bar.

It’s easier to learn and more comfortable to do than the barbell deadlift because it puts your back in a more upright position and involves more knee and ankle flexion.

Otherwise, however, it’s biomechanically identical to the conventional pull and trains almost every major muscle group in your body, including your back, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and forearms

Because the trap bar deadlift is “easier” than the conventional deadlift, though, some people dismiss it merely as an exercise to help newbies learn how to pull properly.

This is wrongheaded. 

While it’s true the trap bar deadlift allows you to lift more weight, you can make it just as hard as the conventional deadlift by, well, lifting more weight.

In fact, you’ll likely be able to lift around 5-to-10% more on the trap bar deadlift (even when using the low handles), so you can take advantage of this by increasing the load accordingly.

The trap bar deadlift also puts less stress on the lower back and hamstrings and more stress on the quads than the conventional pull, which can be desirable based on your circumstances and goals.

Most people also prefer the neutral grip of the trap bar deadlift more and find they can stay more balanced and stable throughout the entire movement. 

Finally, studies show that the trap bar deadlift may be more effective at improving athletic performance than the barbell deadlift.

Most sports demand not only strength, but also speed. Combined, these factors are referred to as power, and exercises that allow you to produce more power (to demonstrate strength faster) are generally considered more beneficial for improving athleticism. 

As research shows that people can pull trap bars faster than barbells and thus generate more power, this suggests the trap bar deadlift may be preferable for athletes. 

So, there you have it—while the trap bar deadlift isn’t necessarily superior to the barbell deadlift, it’s certainly a worthy alternative. 

(If you like training tips like this and want even more in-depth advice about which exercises you should do to build your best body ever, check out my fitness books for men and women, Bigger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger.)

+ Scientific References