Best Trap Bar – Introduction
What are the best trap bars for your home gym in 2023?
You don’t need much equipment to create a functional home gym.
Barbells are perfect for the most powerful compound exercises on the planet, such as;
Otherwise, you’ll have to clean the bar up to your shoulders whenever you do a set.
Unfortunately, squat racks are large and often expensive, making them impractical for some home trainers.
Thankfully, there is an alternative – a good trap bar.
A trap bar is a good way around the whole barbell/squat rack problem and provides a safe way to train your legs at home or in your garage.
This article explains what a trap bar is, outlines some of the advantages of using one, lists a few of the best exercises you can do, and reveals our top picks for home use.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.
What Is A Trap Bar, Anyway?
A trap bar, also known as a Gerard bar, shrug bar, hex bar, or squat bar, is a barbell with a hexagon shape and dual handle design.
You stand between the handles with the frame around your legs and the weights just outside your hands.
This hexagonal-framed barbell with parallel handles was first invented by powerlifter Al Gerard because regular barbell deadlifts bothered his lower back.
By positioning the weights to the side instead of in front, there is less stress on your lower back and less of a tendency to lean forward.
However, hex bars do make deadlifts more quad-dominant, which is why they’re sometimes called squat-lift bars.
So, while conventional deadlifts are a hip-dominant exercise, you’ll probably feel the trap hex bar variation more in the front of your thighs.
Trap Bar Advantages and Benefits
Not sure if a trap hex bar deserves a place in your home gym?
Consider these advantages and benefits and then decide!
#1. No squat rack required
Hex bar deadlifts feel a lot like squats, but each rep starts with the weight on the floor.
As such, you do not need a massive squat rack to train your legs, even if you use heavy weights.
If you train to failure, all you need to do is lower the bar to the floor.
You won’t get pinned under a heavy barbell.
This makes trap bar deadlifts ideal for anyone who trains at home and doesn’t want to buy a squat rack.
#2. Easier on your lumbar spine
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t keep your back straight during deadlifts.
Instead, you arch it slightly and keep it that way by bracing your core.
This is called a neutral spine.
With conventional deadlifts, the weight is in front of your legs, which tends to pull you forward and out of alignment.
In contrast, by deadlifting with a Gerard bar, the weight is level with your feet and less likely to pull you forward.
This makes it much easier to maintain a neutral spine.
As such, trap bar deadlifts can be real back savers, especially for taller lifter athletes such as basketball players and anyone else who struggles to keep their spine neutral during deadlifts.
No wonder Steph Curry used this specialty bar to rehab his ankles and save his career!
See the 11 Best Steph Curry Deadlift and Training Secrets You Didn’t Know for all the details of how deadlifts were instrumental in the making of an NBA superstar!
Unlike Olympic barbells and deadlift bars, most trap barbells do not have things like revolving sleeves and removable end caps.
Because of this, there is very little to go wrong with a trap bar, and they can stand up to even the hardest use and abuse.
Most require no servicing, other than the occasional wipe down with a cloth to remove any sweat.
So, while you will need to invest some extra cash in a trap barbell, that investment will last many years and should be a one-time purchase.
#4. Surprisingly adaptable
Believe it or not, the trap hex bar is good for more than deadlifts!
In fact, you can use it for several other productive exercises.
Other exercises you can do with a trap bar include:
- Farmer’s walk
- Floor press
- Bent-over row
- Pendlay row
- Romanian deadlift
- Neutral grip overhead press
- Hammer curl
- Split squats
- Squat jumps
See The 8 Best Trap Bar Exercises for Full Body Strength + Workout to truly see the versatility of this specialty bar!
#5. A legitimate test of strength
While the deadlift bar is what powerlifters and advanced lifters use to test their strength, strongman competitions often use apparatus that’s very similar to the hex bar, as a neutral grip is often more biceps-friendly and less likely to cause injury.
The car deadlift is a prime example.
However, it’s worth remembering the training law of specificity when choosing between a traditional barbell and a hexagon barbell.
Therefore, if you want to improve your straight bar deadlift, most of your training should be done using a straight bar.
That’s because deadlifting with a hex bar uses slightly different muscles, and the technique is different, too.
But, if you are training for general strength and muscle building, there is no reason to use a straight bar if you don’t want to, and you are free to focus on trap bar deadlifts.
Trap Bar Disadvantages
While trap bars are largely safe and effective, there are a couple of drawbacks to consider too:
#1. Less posterior chain recruitment
With your upper body in a more upright position, the trap bar deadlift doesn’t work your back as much as conventional deadlifts.
Your arms are down by your sides, so your lats are not as engaged, and with less forward lean, your glutes and hamstrings won’t be as active.
However, your quads will have more work to do.
#2. Breathing difficulties during high-rep sets
Holding a weight with your arms by your sides can make it hard to breathe.
This is not an issue during short, heavy sets but could be a real problem during something like a 20-rep set of deadlifts.
While you could do something like the 20-rep squat routine with a hex bar, breathing during squats is easier when the barbell rests on your back.
#3. Straight barbells are probably more versatile
While there are plenty of exercises you can do with a trap bar, there are even more you can do with an Olympic barbell.
However, on the downside, some of those exercises need to be done in conjunction with a squat or power rack for safety.
The 5 Best Trap Bars for Home Exercisers
Now that you know a little more about this fantastic specialty barbell, you may want to add one to your training arsenal.
Here are five of our top picks for home and garage gym use!
#1. CAP Barbell Olympic Trap Bar
- SPECS: Dimensions are 50” L x 29” W x 14” H; Loadable sleeve length is 9.5...
- GRIPS: Neutral placed grip are comfortable and elevated sleeves making lifting...
- COMPACT: Constructed of tubular steel, this bar takes up minimal amount of space...
- STABILITY: Incorporated feet protect floors from weights and balances bar while...
- FULL BODY WORKOUT: This bar allows for a full body workout by engaging large...
Commercial-quality trap bars can be expensive, costing upward of $300; however, not all home lifters need a trap bar rated up to 800 lbs!
A home-use bar from CAP is sturdy and strong enough for most home workouts, but at under $100, buying it won’t break the bank.
It has two handles set at different heights and is available in five colors.
This popular Olympic Trap Bar is versatile and effective, allowing you to perform a variety of powerful compound exercises you can use for a full-body strength training workout.
#2. Rogue TB-2 Trap Specialty Bar
This high-quality bar from ROGUE has two sets of handles – regular and raised.
This means you can adjust your range of motion to reflect your height and leg length.
This is a valuable feature for anyone who struggles to get into a good starting position for trap bar deadlifts, i.e., taller or less flexible lifters.
Like all ROGUE products, this bar is tough as nails and built to last.
#3. SELEWARE Olympic Hex Bar
- 4 different adjustable heights for deep squat or partial squat, no matter you...
- Hex bar with the stand portion, can separate the plates from the floor, that is...
- Made of heavy solid steel, fully welded sleeve bar, withstand heavy use and...
- Overall Dimensions: 54'' L * 24'' W * 15'' H, sleeve bar diameter 2'', length...
- SATISFACTION GURANTEED: If you are dissatisfied for any reason, return your...
Where some trap bar handles are one height, and other bars offer two hand heights, this multi-functional bar from SELEWARE offers four handle height options, making it one of the most useful trap bars around.
It’s NOT a commercial quality bar but is certainly robust enough for most home lifters.
Weighing just 15lbs, this is the lightest trap bar on review, making it an ideal choice for beginner lifters.
However, according to the manufacturer, the SELEWARE Trap Bar is still rated for loads of 1000lbs.
#4. Titan Fitness Rackable Hex Trap Bar V3
- UPDATED VERSION: The Rackable Trap Bar now has an improved black powder coat,...
- The frame is perfectly sized so you can rack it inside standard power racks on...
- Accurately perform Rack Pulls, Shoulder Shrugs, Deadlifts, and Bent Over Rows
- Unique dual handle design for targeting and isolating desired muscle groups
- Fits standard 2-inch Olympic weight plates | Easy flip design to switch grips
This is another two-sided trap bar with standard and raised handles.
With its 800lbs weight capacity, it’s suitable for even the strongest user and should provide a lifetime of great workouts.
The main advantage of this Trap Bar from Titan Fitness is it’s been made to fit into most conventional squat and power racks, making it perfect for things like neutral grip bench and overhead presses, as well as rack pulls.
#5. The Rogue TB-1 Trap Hex Bar 2.0
ROGUE makes heavy-duty training equipment that is built to last.
The ROGUE TB-1 is a very basic trap bar but ideal for anyone who just wants to load, grip, and rip!
The large frame provides plenty of space to stand, and the handles are deeply knurled for a secure grip.
It weighs 60lbs and has been approved for use in the US Army’s Combat Fitness Test (ACFT).
If you want to learn even more about the trap bar deadlift, watch this excellent video from strongman and powerlifter Alan Thrall:
All About The Trap Bar Deadlift
Best Trap Bars to Buy – Wrapping Up
Adding this valuable piece of equipment to your home or garage gym will bring a new dimension to your workouts.
Trap bar deadlifts are a safe and effective way to build your legs without a squat rack, and you can use this bar for several other exercises, including floor and overhead presses.
Trap hex bars are compact and, especially compared to buying a barbell and squat rack, very competitively priced.
So, if you want to train hard and heavy in your home or garage gym but don’t have the space or budget for an Olympic barbell and squat rack, a trap bar could be the ideal solution.
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