Trap Bar Deadlift vs. Regular Deadlift – Differences and Benefits

The regular deadlift, also know as the barbell deadlift and/or conventional deadlift, is one of the most widely performed deadlift variation across most power, strength, and fitness sports. It can create massive amounts of strength, back and hip hypertrophy, and can be staple movement for most athletic endeavors. Similarly, the trap bar deadlift can often be used to produce many of the measurable outcomes of the regular deadlift, however do have some slight differences that coaches and athletes should be aware of.

Therefore, in this article we will briefly discuss the benefits, muscles worked, movement demos, and specifically what training considerations coaches and athletes should understand when determine which movement (regular vs. trap bar deadlift) to program and perform in training sessions.

[Read our ultimate guide to the trap bar deadlift!]

Benefits

Here are some general benefits of deadlifting, regardless of the variation (in no specific order).

  • Increase hip, hamstring, and back strength
  • Enhance muscles development of the posterior chain (PC)
  • Improved PC strength and development can be better transitioning into power, speed, and explosive athletic movements.

Muscles Worked

Here is an overview of that muscles can be developed by regular and trap bar deadlifts (in no specific order).

  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Erector
  • Lats
  • Traps
  • Grip and Arms
  • Quadriceps

The Regular Deadlift Demo

Below is the demo video on how to perform the regular deadlift by elite deadlifter/powerlifter, Ed Coan.

The Trap Bar Deadlift Demo

Below is the demo video on how to perform the trap bar deadlift by Mark Bell.

Training Considerations

Below are some variables that coaches and athletes should be aware of when determining how to undergo programming either deadlifting variation into training sessions. With proper understanding, coaches and athlete can select the correct deadlift variation to be suit the needs and goals of the athlete and training session.

Amount of Spinal Loading

Due to the torso angle differences between these two variations, the trap bar delivers less spinal loading due to an upright torso than the regular deadlift at respective loads.  This is important to consider for lifters who may have lower back control and stability issues, or of looking to minimize back stress to allow for greater hip volume. This is not to say that the trap bar deadlift doesn’t dress the back, only that it could be used at times to avoid additional loading in certain situations.

Degree of Difficulty

Both lifts at heavy loads are difficult, however the complexity of the regular deadlift movement is slightly higher since a greater demand of hip and back mobility and strength is needed to assume and perform and regular deadlift.

A post shared by Julio G (@juliusmaximus24) on

Many new lifters can build basic strength and muscle while performing the trap bar deadlift and slowly transition into regular deadlifts as they develop the proper control and rigidity needed to deadlift with a neutral spine.

Loading Capacities

Generally speaking, the trap bar deadlift will wallow a lifter to lift heavier loads in relation to the regular deadlift. The more upright torso allows displacement of the Loading across the entire hip and lower body, unlike the regular deadlift which is often limited by lower and middle back strength at higher loads. The opportunity to load heavier during the trap bar can be used to increase stress and volume to further enhance training adaptations.

Sport Specificity

For powerlifters, the regular deadlift is a must, as it is one of three formal competition lifts. Failure to train and develop the strength, coordination, and skill needed to deadlift at all loads can impede maximal performance on the platform.

As for other sports, the trap bar deadlift can mimic jumping, running, and athletic based movements while also limiting lower Back stress, making it sometimes a viable option is coaches are concerned with the risk vs. reward of deadlifting. Regardless, I am a firm believer that athletes should be well versed in both to prepare them best for the physical demands of sports.

Hip Angles

Understanding the joint Angles and what implications that had on loading dynamics can help coaches and athletes best program each movement based on the overall goal.

A post shared by Mike Dewar (@mikejdewar) on

The regular deadlift has a much smaller hip angle (hips are in deeper flexion at start) than the trap bar deadlift, which will place a greater demand on the hips, hamstrings, electors, and back. Additionally, the increased knee flexion at the start of the trap bar deadlift will shift demand towards the glutes, quads, and middle to upper back.

Flexibility and/or Mobility Issues

While coaches and athletes must always address movement and flexibility issues prior to adding loading, the trap bar deadlift can be used with individuals who lack full range of motion and control needed to assume a proper regular deadlift set up with a flat back. Flexibility and regular deadlifting regressions can be paired with the strength, hypertrophy, and motor patterning benefits of the trap bar deadlifts to provide a transitional program for immobile athletes looking to deadlift.

Final Words

I am a firm believer that athletes and lifters should be well versed in their movement abilities to maximize performance and increase injury resilience. Both of these movements offer great benefits, as well as have some slight drawbacks when compared to one another. Coaches and athletes need to assess the goals and purpose of the program and adapt to individuals differences and concerns to provide long-term growth and success.

Featured Image: @JuliusMaximus24 on Instagram

Comments