Training

Trap Bar Deadlift Vs Barbell Deadlift | How to Program and FAQs

By 29 September 2020October 19th, 2020No Comments
Trap Bar Vs Barbell Deadlift

The trap bar deadlift versus the barbell deadlift, which is better for strength, power, and mass? Before we continue on, let’s establish something really quick. These are different exercises. So while their names both have “deadlift” in them, we should think about and program them differently.

In this article, we’re going to discuss and break down trap bar deadlift and barbell deadlift differences across multiple fronts and answer common trap bar deadlift barbell deadlift FAQs.

For a visual discussing all of the topics above, check out the video below filmed by Coach Jake!

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Trap Bar Deadlift Vs Barbell Deadlift Differences

The main difference between the trap bar deadlift and barbell deadlift is where the weight is positioned. In the trap bar deadlift, the hands are gripping the weight at the sides, and in the barbell deadlift, the hands are in front of the body. This detail changes the mechanics for how each exercise is performed and the adaptation they create.

For the trap bar deadlift, the weight will be evenly displaced across the front and backside of the body. This means the quads will be involved and will serve as a prime mover, along with the glutes and other muscles on the posterior side of the body. In the barbell deadlift, primarily the posterior (hamstrings, glutes, and erectors) muscles will be involved as the weight is in front of the body.

Another fundamental difference between the two exercises is that the trap bar deadlift utilizes hinging and squatting movement patterns, while the barbell deadlift is primarily a hinging exercise. Basically, the trap bar deadlift will utilize the legs to a much larger extent compared to the barbell deadlift.

Trap Bar Deadlift Vs Barbell Deadlift Muscles Worked

The trap bar deadlift will primarily work the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and multiple back muscles. The barbell deadlift will primarily work the glutes, hamstrings, and will utilize the erectors and other back muscles as stabilizers.

There will be a lot of carryover between the movements and the muscles that are worked, however, the trap bar deadlift will utilize more leg musculature compared to the barbell deadlift.

Trap Bar Deadlift Muscles Worked

Trap Bar Deadlift Muscles Worked

Trap Bar Deadlift Muscles Worked

  • Glutes (prime mover)
  • Quads (prime mover)
  • Hamstrings
  • Erectors
  • Lats
  • Upper Back Muscles
  • Forearms
  • Calves
Barbell Deadlift Muscles Worked

Barbell Deadlift Muscles Worked

Barbell Deadlift Muscles Worked

  • Hamstrings (prime mover)
  • Quads (prime mover)
  • Quads
  • Erectors
  • Lats
  • Upper Back Muscles
  • Forearms
  • Calves

The lists above are only really scratching the surface of the muscles the trap bar deadlift and barbell deadlift work. In reality, they’ll work a ton of muscles across the whole body, as most of the body’s muscles will be firing and playing roles as stabilizers and synergists throughout each exercise.

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Trap Bar Deadlift Benefits

There are countless benefits that come along with trap bar deadlift. Below, we’ve provided three of our favorite benefits that come along with this exercise.

Trap Bar Deadlift Benefits

Trap Bar Deadlift Benefits

1. Great Teaching Tool

The trap bar deadlift can be a great tool for teaching beginners that are learning the hinge and squat movement patterns. Since this bar is so versatile, you can easily adjust the teaching points with it by playing with handle height and overall mechanics.

2. Awesome for Sports

The barbell deadlift isn’t usually specific enough for athletes and it can accumulate too much fatigue during in and off-season training cycles. Since the trap bar deadlift displaces force evenly across the body, it’s often a great exercise for athletes.

3. Useful for Every Level Lifter

Beginners and elite athletes can obtain a ton of benefit from the trap bar. You can easily modify how it’s performed and can load them fairly heavily while performing them with a high frequency.

Barbell Deadlift Benefits

The barbell deadlift is often considered a staple in most training programs and that’s for good reason. Here are three of our favorite benefits that come with barbell deadlifts.

Barbell Deadlift Benefits

Barbell Deadlift Benefits

1. Fantastic Back Builder

If you’re on the quest of building a big and strong back, then the deadlift is a great staple to have in your program. It’s not the ONLY exercise that can build a big and strong back, but it’s certainly one of our top choices.

2. Essential for Strength Sports

For lifters that compete in strength sports, the barbell deadlift is essential for your growth and strength as an athlete. This is when specificity of the movement and your sport come into play!

3. Amazing for the Mind

Oh yeah, this is definitely our egos talking, but few exercises provide you with the same mental feeling of accomplishment as the deadlift. There’s something about picking up dead weight from the floor that is oh so satisfying.

Is the trap bar deadlift or barbell deadlift better for beginners?

Generally, the trap bar deadlift will be the preferred exercise for beginners because it helps teach both the hinge and squat movement patterns. Since the hands are by the sides of the body, it’s often easier for beginners to nail down the mechanics with the trap bar deadlift compared to the barbell deadlift.

Is the trap bar deadlift or barbell deadlift better for sports?

The trap bar deadlift and barbell deadlift are both useful for sports performance. However, the trap bar deadlift will usually be the preferred option for coaches because it mimics athletic movements move closely, even displaces load across the body, and is better for mitigating fatigue accumulation.

Is the trap bar deadlift or barbell deadlift safer?

The trap bar deadlift and barbell deadlift are BOTH safe exercises. No exercise is inherently dangerous. Poor loading strategies and form are what can make an exercise increasingly more “problematic”, but no movement by itself is unsafe.

Is the trap bar deadlift or barbell deadlift better for back growth?

The trap bar deadlift and barbell deadlift are both good options for building a strong back, however, the barbell deadlift will take the edge when exclusively comparing the two for back growth specifically. Since the weight is in front of the body for the barbell deadlift, the lats will have to work harder keeping the barbell close to the body.

Trap Bar Deadlift for Leg Growth

Trap Bar Deadlift for Leg Growth

Is the trap bar deadlift or barbell deadlift better for leg growth?

The trap bar deadlift will be better for leg growth as it requires more knee flexion to complete successful reps. With an increase in knee flexion, the quads will be much more active in this exercise.

How often can I program trap bar deadlifts and barbell deadlifts?

You can program trap bar deadlifts and barbell deadlifts multiple times a week. What’s most important to consider is that you’re balancing volume, intensity, and exercise selections based on your capabilities, needs, and goals.

Is the trap bar deadlift or barbell deadlift better for power production?

The trap bar deadlift and barbell deadlift can both be great options for improving power production. However, it’s important that we define what type of power production we want to create and how that will apply to our goals — basically, account for the principle of specificity.

For athletes trying to improve their sprinting and jumping explosiveness, then the trap bar deadlift will be more synergistic with their goals. And for strength athletes trying to improve their deadlift power for their sport, then the deadlift will obviously be the best choice.

Trap Bar Deadlift and Barbell Deadlift Remarks

The trap bar deadlift and barbell deadlift are both phenomenal full-body exercises that carry handfuls of benefits. It’s important that we consider each exercise as being separate despite their names both having “deadlift” in them.

If we can put the trap bar deadlift and barbell deadlift into their own buckets, then we program more strategically for our goals.

Jake Boly

Jake Boly

Jake Boly, CSCS, M.S. is a weathered veteran of the fitness industry. Prior to Pheasyque Lab, he was the Fitness Editor at BarBend.com for four years. To date, Jake has written over 1,700 articles about fitness and health and has trained hundreds of athletes all while continuing to push the boundaries of fitness and health content creation.

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