The trap bar, also known as the hex, the bar is one of the most versatile tools in any gym. If you are only using the trap bar for deadlifts, you are missing out on a whole other world of exercises. Thanks to the neutral grip and hexagonal frame, the trap bar provides a great alternative to the same old barbell movements. You can do presses, deadlifts, carries, and rows pain-free with the trap bar.
In this guide, we will break down the form and benefits of our favorite trap bar exercises:
Table of contents
Best Trap Bar Exercises
From squats to presses, there is something here for every body part and everyone:
Trap Bar Romanian Deadlift
The regular barbell Romanian deadlift can be very taxing on your lower back. Not to mention that when you go higher in weight, your grip strength often becomes a limiting factor. Meanwhile, the trap bar Romanian deadlift is a lot better for your lower back since you are in line with the weight. The neutral handles also make the bar easier to grip.
Benefits Of Trap Bar Romanian Deadlift:
Can lift more weight
Less low back strain
Neutral grips are easier on shoulders and elbows
How To Do Trap Bar Romanian Deadlift
- Step into your trap bar: Your feet should be hip-width apart
- Get into a deadlift position: You have to deadlift the bar up for your first rep. Have your spine neutral, chest up, and core engaged.
- Deadlift the bar up: Drive through your feet and push your hips forward until you are locked out
- Lower the bar just below your knees: Slowly control the weight and let the bar go just beyond your knees. At the bottom of the rep, you should feel a stretch in your hamstrings and glutes.
- Lift the bar up: Get back into a deadlift lockout position by driving through your hips and engaging your posterior chain
- Repeat: For the rest of your reps in the set, slowly lower the bar just below your knees and repeat
Trap Bar Bench Press
If you suffer from wrist or shoulder pain, the trap bar bench press could be a great alternative to the barbell bench press. The neutral grip ensures that your elbows stay properly tucked in to protect your shoulders. The grips also prevent your wrists from bending backward as is often the case with the barbell bench.
You will not be able to lift as much weight with this lift, but it can very useful for working around injuries or breaking through plateaus. If you do not have a rackable trap bar, you can also to the trap bar floor press. It is the same exercise just off the floor instead.
Benefits Of Trap Bar Bench Press:
Safer for shoulders and wrists
Works your triceps more
Strength carryover to regular barbell bench press
How To Do Trap Bar Bench Press
- Set up the bench and bar: Your head should be within the frame of the trap bar while it is racked.
- Get into your benching position: Grip the neutral handles at the midpoint so that the bar is balanced. Retract your scapula and tighten your upper back.
- Unrack and lower the weight: Be careful to keep the bar balanced and slowly lower the weight toward your chest
- Drive the bar up: It may help to envision punching the bar up
Trap Bar Jump
The trap bar jump also called the trap bar jump squat, is an exercise designed to build serious speed off the floor. You will of course not be able to go heavy but remember that the point of this lift is to build speed and power, not strength.
Benefits Of Trap Bar Jump:
Learn how to be explosive off the floor
Great for athletes
Increase in force production and speed
How To Do Trap Bar Jump
- Get into a deadlift position: Make your spine neutral, your chest up, and your core engaged.
- Deadlift the bar off the ground: The first half of a trap bar jump should be controlled, You want to make sure that you smoothly lift the bar off the ground so that you can maintain proper form.
- Jump up: Once you have deadlifted the bar off the ground and halfway through a normal deadlift rep, begin to generate as much force as possible. Push through the floor and jump up. Make sure to not shrug at the top, and keep your arms straight.
- Land: Land properly by bending your knees and getting a hinge position. Control the bar so it does not crash into the ground.
Trap Bar Shrug
The trap bar is called that for a reason, it is great for working your traps. The trap bar is really the ideal tool for shrugs since you can load the bar very heavily and not worry about the weight brushing up against you during the lift. The weighted stretch you get at the bottom of these shrugs is amazing.
Benefits Of Trap Bar Shrug:
Easier to load and do than barbell shrugs
Neutral grips are better for trap activation and shoulder health
Strong traps lead to better posture and back health
How To Do Trap Bar Shrug
- Load the bar: Set the bar on the floor or rack if it is rackable. Load the same amount of weight plates on each side.
- Get into a deadlift position: Step into the bar and grab the neutral handles. Get into a deadlift position by pushing your hips back and bending your knees.
- Deadlift the bar up: Drive your hips forward and deadlift the bar up. If your bar is starting on a rack, unrack the bar and get into a locked-out deadlift position.
- ShrugShrug your shoulders up towards your ears. Squeeze your traps at the top of each rep.
- Control the weight down: Slowly lower the weight back down and allow your shoulders and arm to fully stretch down. Take a deep breath and shrug again.
Trap Bar Overhead Press
Similar to the trap bar bench press, the trap bar overhead press will help protect your shoulders and wrists. The neutral grips help to keep your arms close to your body for a safer shoulder position. You also do not have to worry about moving your head out of the way since the bar is open in the middle.
Benefits Of Trap Bar Overhead Press:
Safer for shoulders and wrists
More tricep activation
Do not need to move your head out of the way
How To Do Trap Bar Overhead Press
- Set the bar and rack up: The bar should be at or just below chest height
- Get into a shoulder press position: Grip the middle portion of the trap bar handles so that the bar will be balanced. Tighten your upper back.
- Unrack the bar: Unrack the bar and walk the bar back so you have enough space. Take a deep breath and tighten your entire body including your core and glutes.
- Press the bar up: Press the bar up. It may help to imagine that you are punching the air.
- Lower the weight: Slowly lower the weight until the frame of the bar is level with your face. Make sure to keep the bar balanced.
Split Stance Trap Bar Deadlift
The split stance trap bar deadlift allows you to work one leg at a time even if you do not have the best balance or mobility. With this lift, the supporting leg does little to no work while the front leg bears the brunt of the load. You can really isolate in on that leg to get the most strength and muscle gains.
Benefits Of Split Stance Trap Bar Deadlift:
Can do single-leg training without much balance
Can go very heavy
Correct muscular balances
How To Do Split Stance Trap Bar Deadlift
- Get into a split stance: Step into the trap bar and get into a split stance. The toes of your rear foot should be in line with the heel of your front foot. Realize that your front foot will handle most of the load.
- Get into a deadlift stance: Bend down by pushing your hips back and grip the bar. Make sure your spine is neutral and your chest is up.
- Deadlift the bar up: Take a deep breath and engage your core. Deadlift the bar up by driving through your front leg and bringing your hips forward
- Lower the weight: Slowly lower the weight back down to the floor
- Switch legs: After completing a set with one leg, switch your split stance and do the exercise again
Trap Bar Bent Over Row
A problem with the barbell row is that it can be pretty taxing on your lower back. If you already do squats and deadlifts, the last thing you need is additional strain on your lower back. The trap bar row allows getting the best out of heavy rows without putting much strain on your body. The neutral grip will also allow you to lift more weight and really get a peak contraction with your lats.
Benefits Of Trap Bar Row:
Less low back strain
Can lift heavier
Neutral grips lead to better lat activation
How To Do Trap Bar Row
- Step into the bar: Step into the bar with your feet about shoulder-width apart
- Get into a deadlift position: To get the bar into a rowing position, you will need to deadlift it up. So bend down and grab the neutral handles.
- Lif the bar up With your chest up, hips back, and core engaged lift the bar up.
- Bend over at a 45-degree angle: Now slowly bend down so you are about a 45-degree angle. Your spine should be neutral and core tight.
- Row: Row the weight by pulling your elbows back and engaging your back. Control the weight on the way down and be sure to be going all the way down and up.
Trap Bar Deadlift
The trap bar deadlift is the king of all trap bar exercises for a reason. This deadlift activates muscles all over your body and has been known to build some great legs and backs. The main benefits of the trap bar deadlift are that it does not put much strain on your lower back and allows you to lift more weight.
Benefits Of Trap Bar Deadlift:
Less low back strain compared to the barbell deadlift
Can lift more weight
Work both your back and legs
How To Do Trap Bar Deadlift
- Step into the bar: Step into the bar and take a hip-width stance
- Get into a deadlift position: Bend down and grab the neutral handles. Drive your hips back and have your chest up. Your back should not be rounded.
- Prepare to lift: Engage your core and take a deep breath
- Deadlift: Pull the bar up by driving your hips forward and pushing as hard as you can with your feet into the floor
- Lockout: Deadlift the bar all the way and then lockout
- Lower the weight: Slowly control the weight on the way back down
Trap Bar Squat
The trap bar squat can really be done in two ways. You can either step on the platform and use the trap bar to heavily load your legs without compressing your spine. Or you can use an open trap bar to a cambered bar squat. Both of these are great exercises and will target your legs directly.
Benefits Of Trap Bar Squat:
Isolate and target your quads
Load your legs without compressing your spine
How To Do Trap Bar Squat
- Rack your trap bar: Place your rack bar in the squat rack and load the weight
- Get into a squat position: Step into the frame of the trap bar and position it on top of your back
- Unrack the bar: Unrack the bar and take a few steps to give yourself room
- Squat down: Take a deep breath and squat down
- Squat up: Explode up by driving through your legs
Trap Bar Farmers Walk
Trap Bar Farmer’s Walk was initially a strongman movement that has made its way into the mainstream fitness community. It is a strength and conditioning exercise that will work the cardiovascular system, forearms, traps, abs, and more. For those that like to do functional training, this is a great exercise for you. Also if you want to do one side at a time, you do the trap bar suitcase carry.
Benefits Of Trap Bar Farmers Walk:
Both a cardio and strength exercise
Improve your grip strength
Functional exercise that mimics real life
How To Do Trap Bar Farmers Walk
- Step into the bar: After loading your bar, step into your trap bar
- Deadlift the bar up: Bend down and grab the handles, Deadlift the bar up by bringing your hips forward and pushing through your feet.
- Begin to walk: Make sure to keep your arms stable and begin to walk around. You should be engaging your core and back the entire time.
Trap Bar Push Up
The trap bar push is effectively just a push-up with an extended range of motion. At the bottom of these, you get a really great stretch on your pecs and shoulders. The neutral grip also offers a different type of stimulus than your usual push-up.
Benefits Of Trap Bar Push Up:
More tricep activation
Greater range of motion for your chest
How To Do Trap Bar Push Up
- Place your trap bar down: Place your trap so that the handles are facing up
- Get into a push-up position: Grab the neutral handles and extend your legs back. Your core should be tight
- Do a push-up: Slowly lower yourself all the down so that you can feel a stretch in your pecs. Then explode up.
If you have a trap in your gym, make sure you are getting the most out of it. Try some or all of these exercises, and you will realize why so many people are huge fans of the trap bar.
Find The Best Trap Bar
After years of testing, we assembled a master list with the best trap bars for every home gym owner
Trap bars are most commonly used for deadlifts. However, they can be used in lots of different ways to work every muscle in your body.
A trap bar is a very versatile piece of home gym equipment. If you are thinking of getting a specialty bar, the trap bar is quite affordable and has lots of use cases.