What Do Trap Bar Deadlifts Work?

Deadlifts are one of the most popular workouts due to their focus on multiple muscle groups allowing you to build multiple muscles across your body with just one workout.

The other appealing factor that makes deadlifting so popular is its multiple variations.

There are many variations and highly effective deadlift alternatives that all focus on different muscles throughout the muscle groups that deadlifts tend to work.

One of the most favored variations of deadlifting is the trap bar deadlift, which allows a whole new way of lifting the bar and evenly distributing the weight.

In this article, we will be exploring what a trap bar deadlift is and what muscles the trap bar deadlift works in relation to the traditional deadlift. 

What Is A Trap Bar Deadlift?

What is A Trap Bar Deadlift

When performing a traditional deadlift, you use a barbell with weight on either side, but a trap bar otherwise known as a hex bar is a hexagonal-shaped barbell.

When performing a trap bar deadlift you stand in the middle of the hexagon, rather than behind which you would do in a traditional deadlift.

You then grab the sides of the hexagon and perform a deadlift. It is common for trap bars to have two sets of handles on each side, one low and one high.

How To Perform A Trap Bar Deadlift

When performing a trap bar deadlift, the main difference is where you stand in relation to the bar.

With a barbell, you will stand behind the bar, with a trap bar you will stand in the center of the bar. This compels your body to squat more than you would in a traditional deadlift.

First, step into the middle of the trap bar in the center of the hexagon. Your feet should be hip-width apart and your spine should be neutral at all times.

Reach down with your hands to the sides of your body and grasp the bars on each side, making sure your palms are facing inward.

Lift your chest and shoulders and sit your hips back to increase stability before you lift.

With your butt pushed back and your knees bent, you can begin to lift the bar. Stand up by bringing your butt forward and straightening your knees to lift the bar up to your mid-thigh.

Make sure your back is flat and your spine is neutral throughout the lift. Squeeze your glutes at the apex of the lift then slowly drop the bar back down again.

What Muscles Do Trap Bar Deadlifts Work?

What Do Trap Bar Deadlifts Work

Traditional deadlifts work two major muscle groups, the legs, and the back, but they also work the core, which is sometimes considered a major muscle group in itself.

However, although the traditional deadlift works muscles in all of these muscle groups, it only works specific muscles in these muscle groups.

The Back

The back is made up of four major muscles, the latissimus dorsi, also known as the lat, the rhomboids, the erector spinae, and the trapezius, which are also known as the traps.

The lats are a winglike muscle on your back that connects your spine to your upper arm, these are the biggest muscles on the back.

The rhomboids are a smaller muscle that sits on top of the lats and connects your shoulder blades to your spine.

The erector spinae is the muscle in your lower back that runs parallel to your spine, and the traps are the muscle that connects your upper spine closer to your neck to your shoulder blades.

When you are training traditional deadlifts, the back has to tighten to be able to lift the bar and stay straight, this forces each muscle in your back to work especially the erector spinae that is a major muscle when it comes to stability and balance.

Because you lift the barbell with your arms straight, the entirety of the weight will be hanging off of your traps, therefore your traps are trained the most out of all of your back muscles.

A trap bar deadlift isn’t too different from a traditional deadlift in terms of back muscles trained, except because of the angle you are picking the bar up from, you squat a little more, meaning the legs work more than the back.

If you want to focus on the back instead of legs during your deadlift then a traditional deadlift may be better for you.

The Legs

The legs are by far the biggest muscle group on your body as they take up the entire lower half. They are usually split into two groups, the upper legs, and the lower legs.

The upper portion of the legs is made out of three main muscle groups, the hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes.

The lower portion of the legs is made out of two muscles that form the calves, the soleus, and the gastrocnemius. Deadlifts only work certain muscles in the upper portion of the legs.

The quadriceps are made up of four muscles that are situated on the front of your leg, they are used to extend the knee.

The hamstrings do the opposite, they sit on the back of your leg and are used to flex the knee.

The glutes are the muscle that is located in your butt, they are the biggest muscle in the body and are crucial in the stabilization of your whole body.

The traditional deadlift tends to put a lot of focus on the glutes and the hamstrings, however, because the trap bar deadlift allows you to squat more into your deadlift, it gives a great focus on your quadriceps as well.

The trap bar deadlift is a fantastic workout when training legs, although it does focus on the quadriceps a little more than the traditional deadlift, it still doesn’t take away from the hamstrings and the glutes and probably gives them a better workout than a traditional deadlift.

The Core

The core isn’t usually considered a major muscle group as it doesn’t really need to be trained in isolation.

If you are working on each other muscle groups correctly, your core will get a good enough workout anyway.

The deadlift is one of the workouts that is designed to work other muscle groups but still is a great way to train your core.

As you are lifting the barbell in a traditional deadlift or the trap bar in a trap bar deadlift, the body needs to stabilize and tighten, the core has a big part to play in this and therefore will strengthen your abdominal muscles over time.

Final Thoughts

Trap bar deadlift is a brilliant deadlift for focusing on the legs.

If you want to deadlift and have issues with your back or simply want to focus on your legs that day, we highly recommend it. 

That being said, the trap bar deadlift also gives a great workout to your back muscles and also your core.

Kevin Harris