Take Your Trap Bar Deadlift from Good to Great

Tom MacCormick

Strength and Conditioning, Personal Training, Sports Science


The trap bar deadlift is an incredibly effective exercise. It is a kind of squat/deadlift hybrid lift. Obviously, you deadlift the bar off the floor with it in your hands but the movement pattern is closer to a squat. This allows you to create a deeper knee angle than conventional deadlifts.


As a result, the trap bar requires the quadriceps to work harder than they would with a straight bar. This means that you can train the quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, lower back, forearms, and traps with the trap bar deadlift. This makes it arguably the most efficient exercise out there.



I love the trap bar deadlift and often program it in my client's training programs as well as my own. Most often the trap bar deadlift is used as the main lift one day per week, and we use this exercise as a indicator lift. If your numbers are going up week to week then it’s a pretty good sign the program is working.


Benefits of the Trap Bar Deadlift

If you haven’t tried the trap bar deadlift before then, I urge you to include it in your training regime.


Here is a quick overview of the benefits of the trap bar deadlift:


  • Trains almost the entire body
  • Causes more quad activation than regular deadlifts
  • Reduces strain on lower back because of more upright torso angle
  • Involves greater forces than conventional deadlifts
  • Produces higher peak power outputs than deadlifts
  • Allows you to achieve higher bar speeds than straight bar deadlifts


The trap bar deadlift is awesome, but it can be even better with one small adjustment.



Matching up the resistance profile of an exercise with the strength curves of the working muscles increases the effectiveness of an exercise. It allows you to challenge the muscles throughout the entire range of movement. This causes a greater stimulus across a greater range—and that adds up to more gains.


The trap bar deadlift is an extension movement pattern. This movement pattern has an ascending strength curve—you get stronger throughout the range.


You are weakest at the bottom and strongest at the top, so the hardest point in a squat is at rock bottom. Likewise, the hardest part of a deadlift is moving it off the floor. Once it’s past your knees, locking it out is generally easy the easy part.


Consequently, the total weight on the bar is limited by what you can move off the floor (your weakest position). This means your muscles have to work maximally to initiate the lift, but for every inch thereafter they are more mechanically advantaged. This means the muscles don’t have to work as hard. So, you are only working them maximally in the early part of the lift.



There is a simple fix to this issue that allows you to make the entire range of the lift equally demanding. Try adding a band to the bar and as you lift, the tension on the band increases.


By modifying the lift to match your capablitites helps you challenge your muscles across the entire range and makes it a more effective muscle builder. On a rep by rep basis you get a much higher stimulus. It makes every rep harder, but it also means you get a far higher muscle building stimulus.


The video demonstrates how to set up the bands and perform the lift:


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