T Nation

Trap Bar Deadlift vs Conventional Deadlift

After reading countless articles over the years regarding Trap Bar DL vs Conv, the first one seemed like the only logical choice from an athletes perspective.

I’ve pulled conventional for 5 years or so. I was always in the same cycle where I would feel fine, progress, tweak the lower back, rehab and restart the process. With the Trap Bar I’ve been able to avoid all that and just progress injury free, but it still doesn’t feel as ‘‘legit’’. My best pull Conv was 475 and with a Trap Bar 500.

I would really like to known people’s take on the matter. From what I’ve gathered:

Conv Deadlift
-Easy to compare to other lifters since it’s much more popular
-More posterior chain dominant

Trap Bar DL
-Form/mobility is a non-issue
-Higher loads
-Neutral grip allows disregarding straps (mixed grip can cause imbalances)
-Less shear force on the lower back
-More quand dominant

Am I crazy for wanting to stick with Trap Bar Deadlifts ‘‘forever’’?

Some options I’ve thought of, to ease into the Conv Deadlifts:

-Running a 6-12 weeks block where I pull from 6 inches blocs, then another 6-12 weeks block from 3 inches, and finally pull from the floor on the 3rd block and on.
-Slowly adding RDLs to my current routine with very light weights

That legit thing is a mental block.

Guarantee if you can trap bar DL 700lbs (lower handles), your lower back is not going to weak lol.

If you are not powerlifting deadlifting with a straight bar is not essential. Lower back tweaks are usually related to form issues. If your back it straight and tight even at heavy loads you probably won’t tweak your lower back.

Most people could probably literally just stick with TBDL and do some kb swings, back ext, good mornings, or RDL and be all good not conv deadlifting. Just my opinion though.

@bulldog9899 can shed some light on this subject.


Stop doing conventional dead lift years ago. A few Tnation writers have made the same point as nutty - unless you are a power lifter or similar - do you need it?
If you can pick up a 600lb trap bar no-ones going to tell you you’re weak are they.

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Many strongman comps use a frame/trap bar for deadlifting, albeit with high handles. You can totally look up the records too if you’re looking for a weight to aim for.

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I did not know this. I’m not against high handles, but I feel like the low handles just have more carryover to other lifts. But if someone is high handle trap bar deadlifting 600lbs no one is going to call them weak lol.

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They have excellent carryover to farmers!

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I agree that injuries usually come from form issues, although my form on the conv deadlift was very solid. I posted videos, asked for advice, watched myself, was very mindful of everything from head to toes.

That being said, it’s a very unforgiving lift if you do mess up your form, even if you’re 95% good for 1 rep. That’s been my experience at least.

On the Trap Bar, if I somehow lose form a bit trying to hit that extra rep, I won’t injure myself. Let’s be honest, no one has perfect form 100% of the time. If you get injured as soon as your form goes from 100% to 95%, it can be frustrating.

I think there’s a range of form degradation you can venture into before you get injured, depending on the exercise. For example, it’s fairly easy to injure yourself on the DL, even if youre at 90%, but you could have a 50% form on the bench and your shoulders would still be ok, for the most part. Same with Chin Ups, etc.


I actually prefer conventional but it’s because trap bar deads are quad dominant. My leverages are much more suited for pulling than pushing.

The best exercise is the one that meets your goals and needs.


Are you a competive powerlifter (do you compete) or a purist?

If not no it doesn’t particularly matter.

If you were doing conventional and you stopped doing conventional, can you really call anything you do now legit?

Not a competitive powerlifter, but I do like to be able to compare my lifts to others, so I guess a ‘‘purist’’ of some sort.

Perhaps if I ever were to switch, a ‘‘progression’’ would have to be made. HH Trap Bar to LH Trap Bar, to 6’’ Bloc pulls, to 3’’ bloc pulls to maybe sumo deadlifts, to finally regular deadlifts.

Who do you compare them too?

If its not your job and you train for enjoyment and you keep getting injuries with a barbell but not with a trap bar then its a no brainer. Trap bar all day long.


If you don’t like doing deadlifts of any other nature, just do trap bar deadlifts. No one is asking you or telling you to do other things. Just do what you enjoy and get stronger at it.


This is something I wish I would have really learned from the beginning. Wouldn’t have wasted 3 years spinning my wheels!

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Trap bar for the win!

Personally I rotate the trap bar with sumo every 6 weeks or so.

My back seizes up if I even think about conventional.


If it was me, I’d just do both.

With the Trap Bar you aren’t comparing yourself I reckon so do them later for additional variety and different stimulation if you feel like it.

Pursue what you enjoy!