Low Handle Trap DL, Gripping Centrally, and DLing in the Future

I deadlifted conventionally for a long time and after a little bit of back pain i thought i’d try the trap bar deadlift for a block or two. I used the high handles and fell in love with it but then realized more and more how much range of motion I was cutting out and to drop my ego. I switched to low handles and it felt great and my numbers were identical to what i was pulling conventionally. I got up to a set of 5 x 177.5kg, no straps, weight still feeling like it was going to go up every week.

I went to a wedding, drank a lot of alcohol (for the first time in a couple of years), had a few low calorie days and the next time i tried deadlifting i felt strong but every second rep it was extremely unbalanced. This has happened ever since (2-3weeks) and i can’t work it out despite consiously trying hard to grip centrally. Is this a grip issue, a form issue or maybe a sign i should switch back to conventional for a while?

Would losing grip strength mean that the bar cannot be lifted cleanly? In the past i’ve done higher rep sets where my grip would start to fail but the bar still stayed straight. I feel i have the strength but it’s just won’t stop leaning. Maybe straps would solve the isssue? I dunno. It’s very irritating!

I have noticed the tendency of a trap bar with low handles to want to roll as well. As you pointed out, it gets noticeable once you start to get a lot of weight on the Trap bar; when loads are light it’s not a concern. It is actually quite pronounced if you ever try one of the older designs that are a diamond shape rather than a trapezoid/hexagonal shape. The old style really has a tendency to easily shift forward/backwards.

You will notice a similar phenomenon if you do a loaded carry with two loaded Olympic barbells vs using actual farmer walk handles as well.

For this reason, I am personally a fan of doing deadlifts with a regular Barbell and then use a high handle Trap bar as a variation from time to time (to save lower back etc). Straps would certainly help, but then you need to use straps which can become a crutch. A better option may be to stand on a box and use the high handles instead and see if that gives you the range of motion you are looking for while at the same time not creating this torque on your wrists that the low handles provide.

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Other thing that helps is to be cognizant of lining your middle finger up with the center of the Trap bar shafts when grasping the handles.

Thanks for the reply. Yeah i’ve been considering going back to the conventional - i was just loving the trap bar so much :frowning: . I got in the habit of using mixed grip on the conventional and it was great not having to worry about that, but the lean on the trap bar is more concerning to me. I made the switch after a heavy DL session, going for a dog walk and my back just locking up it hurt to even bend down to take the lead off! I was fine a couple of days later but it just wasn’t worth the risk of feeling it again.

I will try lining my middle finger up with the bar next time. My last session i found myself moving the first rep with real speed and then the second rep not getting it off the floor there was so much lean, readjusting, same, readjusting, same…and just having to give up on the set.

Standing on a block and using the higher handles could be a good idea if it’s the depth that is the problem. I’ll keep having a play around - hopefully i can figure it out.

Dog walking is more important than lifting weights imho. So at least you got your priorities straight!

Not the end of the world if you end up using high handles on a trap bar in my opinion. Since the trap bar isn’t a competition lift anyways and if you end up lifting more weight in the end with high handles than where you began isn’t that the point anyways?

Besides, it’s not like you started pulling sumo or anything ridiculous like that …jk.

Just use the high handles, but set up on a deficit (i.e., stand on plates or boxes) so that the ROM would be the same as the low handles


I’ll give that a go my next session. I never really thought about it being so much easier to not lean on the high handles but i guess because it’s raised from the base of the bar it’s not as much of an issue. The trap bars high handles in my gym come up to almost my knees, I felt almost embarrassed to use it! I was also concerned on missing out so much range of motion/potentional gains. Hopefully i won’t feel that way standing on some plates.

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