The trap bar deadlift is a staple in many strength training programs. This exercise is exceptional for targeting the hamstrings and glutes and allows you to lift more weight than other variations. Trap bar deadlifts are useful for athletes of all kinds, regardless of their sport. They act as supplementary exercises to strengthen the posterior chain muscles that support athletic movements used in nearly every sport.
However, if your gym doesn’t have a trap bar or if you are unable to do this exercise there are a few alternatives you can add to your workout routine.
Here are five trap bar deadlift alternatives:
1. Barbell deadlift
The Barbell deadlift mostly targets the posterior part of the body. It involves lifting a barbell from the floor up to the knees or upper shins. This exercise is used by numerous bodybuilders, powerlifters, and strength athletes to strengthen their backs and thighs. The main muscles that are worked include the glutes, lower back, traps, and hamstrings.
Here is how you do a barbell deadlift:
- Start by standing with feet hip-width apart and the barbell on the floor in front of you.
- Bend down and grab the barbell with an overhand grip, your hands should be just outside of your shins.
- Keeping your back straight, drive your heels into the floor and lift the barbell up until you’re standing upright.
- Lower the barbell back down to the floor, maintaining a straight back throughout the movement.
The barbell deadlift targets key muscle groups, including the glutes and hamstrings. It is an ideal exercise to strengthen the muscles of your lower body and core muscles. This is one of the best compound exercises, which helps to build overall strength while increasing your range of motion and coordination in performing other exercises such as squats and lunges. If you can learn this exercise properly and master it, you will have no problem with spinal compression.
2. Kettlebell deadlift
The kettlebell deadlift is a fitness training exercise to strengthen core muscles, gluteus muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. It is performed by standing erect and holding the kettlebell in front of your body with both hands. Furthermore, in order to be able to do the exercise properly, you need to make sure that the rest of your core and shoulder muscles are ready for it.
To do this exercise:
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Hold the kettlebell in front of your body with both hands.
- Keeping your back straight and your core engaged, slowly bend at the hips and lower the kettlebell towards the floor.
- Once the kettlebell reaches the floor, reverse the motion and return to the starting position.
The kettlebell deadlift is a great exercise for strengthening your legs and butt. However, if you want to avoid muscle injuries, you should make sure that your core and upper-body muscles are well prepared for this movement before you start it.
3. Smith machine deadlift
The Smith machine deadlift is a semi-isometric exercise used in strength training. It is a compound, full-body exercise that primarily targets the muscles of the lower back, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings but also heavily involves the quads and traps. The Smith machine allows the user to lift weights without worrying about balance and help from spotters.
Here is how you do this exercise:
- Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Place your hands on the bar at shoulder width.
- Keeping your back straight, lower your hips, and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Drive through your heels to return to the starting position.
The Smith machine deadlift is a semi-isometric exercise used in strength training. It is a compound, full-body exercise that primarily targets the muscles of the lower back, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings but also heavily involves the quads and traps.
The Sumo deadlift is a variation of the conventional deadlift. The stance differs in that the legs are spread wider as compared to the conventional stance. This is an efficient movement for quickly loading the glutes and hamstrings. These musculature groups are fast-twitch with large muscle fibers, creating a powerful “spring” effect when trained properly.
To do this exercise:
- Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your toes turned out at a 45-degree angle.
- Bend your hips and knees to lower your butt toward the floor, and grab the bar with your hands.
- Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, drive your heels into the floor and stand up, pulling the bar up along your shins until you’re standing with the bar in front of your thighs.
- Reverse the motion, and lower the bar to the floor.
The Sumo deadlift is just one of many different variations of the total deadlift. It’s focused on slightly different muscle groups and has a shorter range of motion. That’s not to say that every lifter should be doing an assortment of deadlifts during every session, but rather that it’s important to be well-rounded—to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each movement and then apply them according to how they fit into your training program.
5. Rack pull
Rack pulls are one of the best exercises you can do for upper back development and overall strength. The movement works all three heads of your rhomboids, along with the traps and other muscles of your upper back. It is a simple movement, yet very effective.
Here is how you do rack pull the right way:
- Start by setting the bar up in a rack at about knee level.
- Step up to the bar and grip it with an overhand grip, your hands should be about shoulder-width apart.
- Pull the bar off the rack and lower it to your shins.
- Bend your knees slightly and arch your back, keeping your head up.
- From this position, drive your heels into the floor and pull the bar up, leading with your elbows.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the lift and hold for a second.
- Lower the bar back to your shins and repeat.
The rack pull is a simple, yet extremely effective exercise. It will build tremendous strength and massive upper back development. The movement will work all three heads of your rhomboids, along with your traps, delts, and even forearms. You can also experiment with different foot positions (i.e., wide and close) for different stimulation of your rhomboids. Give rack pulls a try the next time you are in the gym!
The alternatives will help you build the muscle groups targeted by trap bar deadlifts, namely your hamstrings and glutes. So if you are interested in adding these exercises into or swapping out trap bar deadlifts, consider adding one of these alternatives to your routine.