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Trap Bar v. Regular Barbell Deadlift

Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 10:03 pm
by amivan
Is the trap bar deadlift inadequate in comparison to a straight-leg regular barbell dl when it comes to hamstring development/recruitment?

Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 10:26 pm
by scs217
I think that both DL and trap bar DL don't do too much with the hamstrings. You should consider RDL and SLDL for hamstring recruitment. ... hor1945210
The hamstrings are listed as a dynamic stabilizer in both exercises you asked about. I think look up RDL and SLDL and see what you think about those. Others may have more complete answers than I do.

Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 10:44 pm
by amivan
im confused, i mentioned the straight-leg BB deadlift in the original question


i feel like that the trap bar DL is pretty much a hack squat, is that too much of a generalization?

Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 10:49 pm
by pdellorto
A trap bar deadlift is more like a hybrid of a squat and a deadlift. You don't drag the bar up your legs, you don't pull "back" as much as in a deadlift. You need to get down to the bottom in a position that's a bit closer to a squat. It's a good tool but it's more like a third option from squats and DLs. Not quite a squat - it's a pull from a dead stop on the floor - not quite a DL - you don't do the same drag-up-and-back. But you still get down, arch the back, and push the heels through the floor until you are standing upright. Because of that I don't think it's poor at hamstring recruitment, though. You just have to use proper form.

Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 10:50 pm
by scs217
I'm sorry I had just read your training log previously and was going from memory and not reading the original question closely. I'd say that yes trap bar DL (or regular DL for that matter) do not really do much with the hamstrings. They're involved, but its not a hamstring exercise for sure. SLDL is the way to go if you want a hamstring exercise (or RDL which has a little more glute emphasis). RDL and SLDL both work the hamstrings in the way of hip extension, which is one function of the hamstrings, and the other is knee flexion (hammy curls). My understanding is that hip extension is a more functional use for sports and recreation than knee flexion, but I may be wrong.

Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 3:44 am
by KPj
The DL hammers your hams... If you don't feel your hams working, your probably squatting the weight up. If this is the case, try starting the pull with your hips higher....


Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:11 am
by amivan
KPj, so no matter the deadlift variation you should always feel it in the hams?

Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:50 am
by KPj
amivan wrote:KPj, so no matter the deadlift variation you should always feel it in the hams?
Yes. I think so.

Could depend what you mean by 'feel', though. Your never going to feel your hams in a conventional DL in the same way you feel your Biceps in a concentration curl. If that makes sense. But after DL's, your hams should be pretty much done.

I've only used Trap Bar DL a handful of times, though, but agree with what Peter said. It's true that it's a little more quad dominant than other DL variations, but it's still primarily a DL, which hits the whole posterior chain which obviously includes hams.

Trap bar DL is a good beginners DL. I've read the likes of Cressey etc saying they use it for athletes because it's easy to teach and because your using a neutral grip.

If your looking for more hamstring work then I would personally recommend the Glute Ham Raise. Either that or the stiff leg variations that have been mentioned. Single leg stiff leg DL's 'feel' more brutal on your hams, if that helps.


Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 9:42 am
by Stephen Johnson
This site lists the standard deadlift as a quad/glute exercise with the hamstrings as a dynamic stabilizer, but I have always felt deadlifts in my hamstrings more than in the quads or even the glutes. DOMS from a heavy deadlifting session for me almost always occurs in the hamstrings. I can't ever recall getting sore quads from deadlifting, while the first time I did front squats made my quads really sore.

Trap bar deadlifts feel more like a squat than a real deadlift. The hips are parallel to the floor in the starting position rather than elevated, so the movement starts with knee extension rather than hip extension.

Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 9:50 am
by stuward
I usually feel deadlifts in my glutes. I suppose it depends on your weakest area. I can't say I have ever felt deadlifts in my quads, however, common sense would suggest that if the knee goes from bent to straight, the quads must be involved. Just because you don't "feel" it doesn't mean you're not working a muscle.

Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:35 am
by amivan
For those of you who have tried the trap bar DLs, are you able to do more reps with the Trap Bar or barbell when you use the same load? I was under the impression that the neutral grip would make it easier to hold onto the heavier weights and thus produce more reps (that's my #1 problem when it comes to the DL b/c i don't use any aids and I can only hold onto twice my bodyweight for so long before my grip goes out)

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 5:38 am
by KPj
I've only used the trap bar a few times in random gyms that i've used whilst traveling, so I don't really know what one I could do more reps with.

Are you using an alternate grip?

Grip strength is quite straight forward to improve over 3-4 weeks. You can either do a direct focus on it, or you change a few things in your current program that will emphasise it more.

Rack Pulls are a good option in that respect. You'll use a heavier load so your grip will get challenged more, but the training effect will be the same, if not more effective (due to the change).

Towel pull ups are good, too. Your still getting your pull ups done but your emphasising grip.

Doing normal weighted pull ups and one arm DB rows in the 2-3 rep range will improve your grip strength if you don't normally lift in that range. If your goal is hypertrophy, just do loads of sets - 8 x 3 or 10 x 2, or one of my favourite set ups - 4 x 3 followed by 3 x 5, for one exercise. Wouldn't need to be exactly like that, but a great middle ground between strength and hypertrophy is doing low rep sets first, followed by high rep sets.

Chalk makes a big difference to your grip and shouldn't be overlooked... Especially at this time of year and the months to follow...


Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:14 am
by robertscott
rack pulls are something i hear about all the time but don't actually know what they are, anyone elaborate?

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:24 am
by pdellorto
A rack pull is a partial deadlift, done from pins set in a power rack so the bar is just below your knees.

A halting deadlift is a DL from the floor, stopped just above the knees.

Here's a post on Stronglifts about rack pulls: ... technique/

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 9:01 am
by robertscott
peter you diamond, that's exactly the exercise I've been looking for!

my deadlift totally sucks due to my awful mobility and even worse posterior chain. I've been trying romanian deadlifs but been struggling with those too.

rack pulls! Yeeha!