Exercises You Can Do With a Trap Bar

By Jeff
Published on
trap bar workout

The trap bar is a piece of equipment you’ll see in most commercial gyms. It has a hexagonal shape, so sometimes people call it a diamond bar or hex bar. With upper and lower handles, this bar is suitable for various exercises. But do you know what exercises can be done with a trap bar?

Keep reading to reveal the best exercises you can do with a trap bar

Trap Bar Basics

At first glance, it might not be obvious how to use it, but once you learn some exercises to do with it, you can unlock a whole range of new exercises. Plus, its design can inject new energy into old exercises by offering variations on a range of motion, grip, and leverage. 

The trap bar’s hex shape allows you to step inside the bar’s frame, altering how you lift it compared to a traditional straight barbell. This change in position combines with D-shaped handles perpendicular to the rest of the bar, offering an impressive array of grip options that can transform your exercise routine. 

The handles offer two grips. One side of the D-handle sticks up from the bar’s top side, and the other is at the same height as the bar’s frame. By simply flipping the bar over, you can change the range of motion for almost any exercise. 

The general benefits of using a trap bar include 

  • Easy alterations to the range of motion
  • Decreased spinal loading for reduced training injury likelihood
  • Aids in the development of fundamental strength for traditional lifts 
  • A neutral grip is safer for your biceps, wrists, and other joints
  • Builds grip strength 
  • Helps lifters overcome injuries, instability, and immobility by offering alternatives to traditional moves

Now let’s look at specific exercises to help you take advantage of this gym staple.

Trap Bar Deadlift
Trap Bar Floor Press
Trap Bar Rack Pull
Trap Bar Farmer’s Carry
Trap Bar Bent Over Row
Trap Bar Shrugs
Trap Bar Push-ups
Trap Bar Overhead Press
Trap Bar Bulgarian Split Squat
Trap Bar Inverted Row
Trap Bar Jump Squat
Trap Bar Kneeling Shoulder Press

Trap Bar Deadlift

The trap bar deadlift is one of its most common uses. Instead of ramming a traditional barbell into your shins and putting a tremendous strain on your lower back, use a trap bar. The design of the bar means you don’t have to drag it across your lower legs and your muscles get plenty of work without overly stressing your lower back. 

The D-handles also help shorten the range of motion for your deadlifts, allowing you to focus on the core maneuver and helping to reduce strain on your forearms, wrists, and biceps. The true deadlift should still be a part of your core workout unless you have a history of injuries that prevent you from doing the exercise. But the trap bar deadlift is an awesome alternative. 


  • Helps minimize the risk of injury compared to traditional deadlifts
  • Easier on the spine, hips, and arms
  • Allows lifters to overcome preconditions, like injuries and poor joint mobility

How to do a Trap Bar Deadlift

To perform a trap bar deadlift, step inside the trap bar. Hinge at the hips and grasp the handles, using the top ones for a shorter range of motion. Head and chest up, hips back, back straight, and focus on drawing your shoulders back. 

Squeeze your glutes and drive the weight up, keeping your back tight. Bend at the hips, lower the weight, and repeat. It may be helpful to focus on driving your feet into the floor rather than moving the weight. 

Trap Bar Floor Press

The floor press is a favorite for those trying to build strength at the top of a bench press when the bar is farthest from your chest. Floor presses are also ideal for people with should injuries, as they put less stress on those joints.

When you use a trap bar for floor presses, the neutral grip not only recruits your muscles differently, it reduces the stress on your wrist, forearms, and elbows. So, you can work on your power, build your lockout strength, get a variation in muscle recruitment, and reduce joint stress.


  • Reduce joint stress
  • Neutral grip changes muscle recruitment

How to do a Trap Bar Floor Press

Set the bar across two benches or in a power cage so that you can lay under it. Make sure the D-handles point upward and grasp the bottom grips. With your back and feet flat on the floor, unrack the weight and lower it to your nipple line. When your elbows touch the floor, press the weight, just like a bench press. 

Trap Bar Rack Pull

The trap bar rack pull is a variation of the deadlift, emphasizing the upper portion of the movement. This puts increased focus on the upper back muscles and deemphasizes the work of the lower body. So, many experienced lifters use the rack pull to build lockout and grip strength at the top of a deadlift, while novice lifters or those overcoming injuries use it to prepare for doing deadlifts. 


  • A neutral grip is safer for holding heavy weights
  • Keeps the spine in better alignment for safety
  • Wide grip targets upper back muscles very effectively

How to do a Trap Bar Rack Pull

To perform a trap bar rack pull, set your bar across two benches or the pins of a power cage. The bar should be just about at your knees or slightly below. Lower yourself into the middle of your deadlift stance, and grasp the handles. With your arms locked at your side and a tight core, drive your feet into the floor and stand up. 

Hinge back down until the bar taps the bench or the pins, and repeat. 

Trap Bar Farmer’s Carry

The farmer’s carry is traditionally done by carrying a dumbbell in each hand and walking a distance across the gym. This exercise is an excellent means of building grip strength and endurance. Plus, it taxes the core muscles and forces you to balance heavy weights. 

When doing a farmer’s carry with a trap bar, you gain the advantage of being able to lift the weight with two hands, and the weight sits farther away from your body. When using dumbbells, the weight tends to hit you in the legs as you walk, and you can’t compensate for any weakness in one arm’s grip. 


  • Allows you to share the load across both arms, maintaining your grip longer
  • Minimizes the risk of the weights bumping into your legs
  • Improves grip and core strength

How to do a Trap Bar Farmer’s Carry

To start a trap bar farmer’s walk, load your bar, and for this exercise, don’t be afraid to pack on a little bit of weight. Then grasp the bar like you’re about to perform a deadlift. Hinge back up from the hips to a standing position and walk. You can aim for target distances or time. 

Trap Bar Bent Over Row

The bent over row is a staple of back exercises. The trap bar allows you to use a different grip than with a standard bar, changing muscle recruitment and increasing the range of motion due to the ergonomics of the design. The trap bar may also help prevent you from tipping forward or hitting your legs with the bar, common issues with barbell shrugs.  


  • A neutral grip is easier on joints
  • Increased range of motion
  • Better squeeze at the top of your rows
  • Less risk of impact and tipping forward

How to do a Trap Bar Bent Over Row

Get into a deadlift position and grasp the top of the trap bar’s D-handles. With your knees bent and your chest aimed at the floor, drive your elbows back and up, bringing the weight to your chest. Lower the weight and repeat. 

Trap Bar Shrugs

Shrugs are ideal for building trapezius size, shoulder strength, and overall power. They also work your grip muscles. But, they’re hard to do with a barbell, as the weight drags on your body. With dumbbells, it’s easy to lose the strictness of your motion, and you may not recruit the muscles the same way on each side. 

Trap bar shrugs offer a different grip, better placement of the weight, more sustained power, and less rubbing. 


  • The bar doesn’t drag on your hips and stomach, increasing comfort
  • Your grip is neutral and symmetrical 
  • You can lift more weight more times, increasing your workload

How to do a Trap Bar Shrug

To perform a trap bar shrug, set the bar at about hip height in a cage or on a squat rack. Alternatively, you can lift the bar from the floor by doing a single deadlift. Grasp the bar’s handles and let its weight pull your shoulders down, but keep your head and chest up. Pull your trapezius muscles up towards your ears and squeeze at the top. Lower the weight and repeat. 

Trap Bar Push-ups

Trap bar pushups come in two variations: with plates and without plates on the bar. If you set the bar on the floor without plates, the D-handles allow you more range of motion by elevating your starting position. This yields more of a stretch at the bottom of the motion, making it more difficult. 

If you add weight plates, it effectively destabilizes the bar and adds an extra balance challenge to the exercise by forcing you to fight for stability. 


  • Achieve a greater range of motion and potentially more gains
  • A neutral grip is safer than standard push-ups with your hands on the floor
  • Reduces wrist strain
  • Can increase core and stability demands with variations

How to do a Trap Bar Pushup

Lay your trap bar on the ground and use the D-handles for a grip. Get yourself in a push-up position and maintain a strong core. Remain in a plank, and lower yourself until you feel a stretch and your biceps get close to your forearms. Press yourself back to the top and repeat. 

Trap Bar Overhead Press

A trap bar overhead press offers a variation on the standard version but with less awkwardness. Standard overhead presses require you to move the bar in front of or behind your head, straining your neck. The standard grip also stresses your shoulders, so many lifters prefer the neutral grip of the trap bar for this exercise.  


  • Less shoulder stress with a neutral grip
  • Removes awkward movement around your head 
  • Full range of motion without increased risk of injury

How to do a Trap Bar Overhead Press

Grap the lower handles that are in line with the rest of your trap bar. You can set the bar at the top of a power rack or do a power clean to get it off the floor and up to chest height. Press the bar directly up, and lower it to your chin, stretching your delts. Drive the bar back up, keeping your core tight and resisting the urge to bounce with your knees. 

Trap Bar Bulgarian Split Squat

Bulgarian split squats help lifters correct strength imbalances and increase their stability. By lifting one foot off the floor and placing your foot on a bench, you’ll have to concentrate plenty of energy on maintaining balance. And all the strength has to come from one leg. When you use a hex bar instead of a barbell, your center of gravity is lower, making the exercise safer and more effective.


  • Trains balance, core strength, and stability 
  • Allows a lifter to introduce instability without compromising their safety
  • You can touch the plates to the ground when you need a break

How to do a Trap Bar Bulgarian Split Squat

Step inside the diamond of your bar, with a bench positioned behind you. Lift your off foot up from the ground and place the top of your toes on the bench behind you. Perform your downward squat motion with a tight core and straight back. Drive your forward foot into the floor and squeeze your glutes to stand all the way up. Repeat. 

Trap Bar Inverted Row

Inverted rows are an ideal bodyweight exercise for training your back and rear delts. But traditional barbells sometimes put a lot of stress on your joints and only offer underhanded or overhand grip options. The hex bar permits you to use a neutral grip, and since it’s narrower than a standard bar, you need to focus more on stability. 


  • More work for core muscles and stabilizers
  • Can use upper or lower handles to increase or decrease range of motion and difficulty

How to do a Trap Bar Inverted Row

Set your unloaded trap bar across two high points, like a narrow cage or a couple of stacks of plyometric boxes. Lay on the floor, grasp the handles, and pull your chest up to the bar, concentrating on initiating the movement from your rhomboids, not your arms. Consider if you need to put your feet on a bench or a box to achieve a full range of motion.

Trap Bar Jump Squat

A traditional jump squat forces lifters to jump and land with heavy weights across the top of their spine. The benefits of plyometric training are many, but this spinal loading is probably not safe. Instead, use a trap bar to gain all the benefits, but put the weights in your hands at hip height rather than across your shoulders. 


  • Allows full range of motion and neutral grip for shoulder and wrist comfort
  • Easier on the spine
  • Allows the lifter to unload at the bottom of the movement, which is safer

How to do a Trap Bar Jump Squat

Consider using 20% or less of your maximum squat weight when comfortable and an unloaded bar while learning the movement. Deadlift your loaded trap bar, and perform the descending half of a squat, hinging from your hips with your head and chest up. Drive your feet into the floor and explode through standing into a jump. Descend all the way into your next squat, but rest the weight on the floor before your next rep. 

Trap Bar Kneeling Shoulder Press

The trap bar kneeling shoulder press reduces your leverage and introduces instability, making the lift tougher on your core and emphasizing shoulder development. Push or overhead presses allow momentum, and trap bar kneeling shoulder presses are far more strict. Plus, they offer 


  • Forces strict movement, or you’ll tip over, emphasizing core strength
  • Isolates the shoulders, increasing their workload
  • Minimizes leverage and makes it impossible to develop momentum

How to do a Trap Bar Kneeling Shoulder Press

The best way to set up for this exercise is in a squat rack, with a foam pad for your knees laid on the floor. Set the height of the rack’s pins to just under your kneeling shoulder height. Load your bar, kneel on the pad, and grip whichever set of handles you prefer. The lower ones might help increase your range of motion, while the higher ones of the D-handle will make it easier on sore shoulders. 

Press the weight up past your chin and up over your head until you’re just short of locking out, keeping your muscles under tension but the weight off of your elbow joint. Slowly lower the weight to maximize the eccentric portion of the lift. When the bar is about to touch the pins, repeat your press.

Summing Up Trap Bar Exercise Benefits

The trap bar offers lifters of all experience levels a versatile option for their workout routines. The ergonomics of the neutral grip are particularly appealing for those with joint issues, and the D-grip handles offer even more options for how you hold the weight. 

The trap bar’s benefits vary by exercise, but lifters often benefit from a lower center of gravity, less back strain, and more comfort. Some lifts with a trap bar also lend themselves to adding a lot more weight than their standard variations with a barbell or dumbbell. 
If you’re thinking about using a trap bar, don’t hesitate. Add these exercises to your next workout!

Photo of author