How to Use a Trap Bar

An Olympic Hex Trap Bar is a must have for any gym – if you’re not yet sure how to use a trap bar, this article will give you some much needed exercise ideas.

Trap Bar Deadlifts

Deadlifts are a brilliant compound exercise. If you’ve ever trained before you’re likely to have them in your exercise bank. The biggest drawback of deadlifting with a straight Olympic barbell is it puts a huge amount of stress on your lumbar spine. During conventional deadlifts, the axis of rotation is your hips which is behind the barbell.

If you instead use a trap bar, you will stand inside the bar so the centre of mass is closer to the axis of rotation, this puts less strain on your back as it’s no longer being used like a crowbar. This transfers more load to the quads. It is effectively combining conventional barbell deadlifts with barbell squats.

Most Hex Trap barbells have a high and low grip. The low grip will be the same height as conventional barbell deadlift. The high grip will allow you to lift more weight as you don’t have to lift the bar as high.

Romanian Deadlift

This is similar to the trap bar deadlift above, but you will focus more on hinging at the hip to engage the hamstrings. You will typically use less weight as you reduce the amount of lifting performed by the quads.

Bent Over Rows

This a great exercise that people might not have thought of when thinking about trap bars. It is just like a barbell row but with a neutral grip, or like using a T-Bar Row Machine with a wider grip. The big advantage is that you can get better range of motion. This will recruit more back muscles, making it an excellent accessory exercise for deadlifts.

Overhead Press

Here is another exercise that you might not have thought could be done with a trap bar. Depending on your trap bar, loading plates could be an issue for heavy lifts. Some trap bars can be racked in power racks – the downside is that these are huge!

Cleaning a trap bar with decent weight is a challenge and not recommended. However trap bars are generally over 20kg. This might not sound a lot, but remember that you will be performing this lift with a neutral grip. Even with a naked bar I have seen many a lifter start shaking as their muscles have not been used in this manner.

This would be a great accessory exercise on your barbell overhead press day, after you muscles have been exhausted.

If you really want to push some serious weight on your compact hex trap bar, you can always use the Spud Suspension straps for your power rack. If you also use the ATX Resistance Band Adaptors you will effectively have a rackable hex bar. Only it will be a fraction of the price and much more compact. Just make sure the straps are contacting with the rubber adapters instead of the chain.


Shrugs with a trap bar are an excellent exercise for building meaty traps. Plus they are a great alternative to barbell shrugs. Not only do you perform them with a neutral grip, you don’t have the barbell rubbing up and down your nether regions!

However you are working hard on your deadlifts and farmers walks with your trap bar, the old traps should be growing like weeds!

Farmers Carriers

Farmers walks have been made popular due to the rise in strongman training. It truly is a full body exercise, and even target the most neglected muscles in your body – your forearms and grip.

Using a trap bar is a great alternative to purchasing dedicated farmers walk handles – they can be expensive and take up a lot of space. You can also get on plenty of weight too.

Push Up Handles

Most trap bars have high handles. If you lay the bar flat on the floor without any weight, you can use the high handles for neutral grip push ups. Yes I know push up handles are cheap and compact, but this is more for the minimalist. With a trap bar and plates you can practically train your whole body!