A Trap Bar (or Hex Bar as its also known) is one of the most popular bars for both big gyms and home gyms alike. It’s often the second type of bar acquired after a traditional barbell.
The main reason for this is the Trap Bar Deadlift is an extremely popular exercise, and for good reason. It’s great for both athletes and general population and is also very beginner-friendly.
However, it can be a struggle to figure out what else a trap bar can be used for. And since no one wants to have an expensive bar taking up a good amount of space that’s only good for one exercise, I’m here to help you with some additional trap bar exercises.
In this guide, I’m going to give you 7 of my favorite exercises that utilize the trap bar.
Trap Bar Clean Pull
When working with athletes I prefer doing Clean Pulls instead of Deadlifts. This is true whether it’s with a traditional barbell or with a trap bar. (Especially for beginners and/or younger athletes)
It’s essentially the same movement pattern as Trap Bar Deadlift but done explosively with lighter weight.
Make sure to maintain a good flat back, braced core and reset between each rep (don’t bounce the weight off the ground).
Pro Tip: Trap Bars can vary in weight. Keep that in mind when deciding how much weight to put on the bar.
Trap Bar Bulgarian Split Squat
A Trap Bar is a great way to add resistance to a Bulgarian Split Squat.
If you’re unfamiliar, a Bulgarian Split Squat is a Split Squat (think lunge but feet don’t move) with the rear foot elevated on a bench or box. It’s also referred to often as a Rear Foot Elevated (RFE) Split Squat.
Sometimes the most difficult part of a Bulgarian Split Squat is getting your rear foot situated on the bench while maintaining your balance. This is even more so when you have dumbbells in your hands or a barbell on your back.
Using a Hex Bar allows you to get both feet set before squatting down to pick up the bar. This makes a Hex Bar an excellent choice to use with Bulgarian Split Squats.
Farmer’s Walk is probably the most popular exercise to use with a Trap Bar other than Trap Bar Deadlift.
Because you have room to move your legs once you’ve picked a hex bar up off the ground, it’s a perfect fit for Farmer’s Walks.
Just be careful not to move too quickly, especially once you feel your grip starting give way. I’ve seen athletes whack their shins on the front end of a trap bar from losing their balance and falling forward once they drop the bar.
Having said that, I still feel a trap bar is safer to use for Farmer’s Walk than dumbbells. This is because dumbbells can have a tendency to bounce and roll much more sporadically than a trap bar.
Trap Bar Shrugs
If I’m being honest, Trap Bar Shrugs are one of my personal favorites to do with a trap bar. A trap bar makes it easy to load the bar and get set up. It also is a slightly wider grip than what you would usually use with a barbell.
Finally, add in the neutral grip and you end up with a shrug movement that seems to just ‘hit different’.
Call it bro science if you want, but I love Trap Bar Shrugs and always jump at the opportunity to do them.
Trap Bar Inverted Row
Using a Trap Bar for Inverted Rows is a great way to utilize the neutral grip that a trap bar provides.
For example, this neutral grip is great for tennis players because it’s very similar to how they hold onto the racket.
The hex bar also forces the lifter to work a little slower and a little more focused because the bar will swivel if you become off-balanced. This is just another added benefit of incorporating a trap bar into this movement.
Trap Bar Shoulder Press
Shoulder Presses with a trap bar are a little more tricky to pull off than all of the other exercises on this list, but if you’re looking to add some variety to your workouts they’re worth giving a shot.
First, you need to get the bar into position. You’ll have to either pick the bar off the ground and move the bar up and over your head or set up your trap bar in a rack.
Both options have their pros and cons. Coming off the floor is very awkward, but changing weights (depending on the type of hex bar you have) can be a pain if it’s in the rack.
Once you do get the bar in place, you’re pressing the trap bar up and then lowering it like a halo down around your head. Keeping the bar balanced is a challenging and extremely important aspect of the lift so the bar doesn’t rotate and end up hitting you.
Trap Bar RDL
What makes the trap bar so great for Trap Bar Deadlifts is the bar’s ability to shift the weight back towards the hips. This shift lessens the strain on the low back and makes the movement more beginner-friendly.
The same principles can apply to RDLs with a trap bar as well. The movement itself doesn’t change at all. It’s simply a slight shift back towards the hips that makes this version of the movement easier for beginners to pick up and can potentially work well for lifters with low back issues.
There are more exercises that can be done with a trap bar other than just Trap Bar Deadlifts. Some just require a little extra creativity.
My final piece of advice is to try to incorporate multiple trap bar exercises into the same workout when possible.
For example, if you have Trap Bar Deadlifts on your workout routine for the day then add a Farmer’s Walk to the end of the workout. This way you’re not having to pull out your trap bar just for one lift.