Open Trap Bars: A Comprehensive Guide

Open Trap Bars A Comprehensive Guide
Photo Credit: Rep Fitness

Open Trap Bars are an improvement over traditional trap bars or “hex bars” due to their unique design, which offers several benefits that traditional trap bars can’t match.

In this article, we’ll explore what open trap bars are, how they work, and why they’re worth adding to your fitness arsenal.

What are Open Trap Bars?

Open trap bars are modified trap bars that have removed the back section of the bar.

By removing the backside of the bar, athletes can easily step inside the hex bar to perform farmer carries, walking lungings, and other exercises without hindering the movement of their legs.

How do Open Trap Bars work?

Open trap bars distribute weight evenly across your body, reducing stress on your lower back and joints. This makes them an excellent choice for anyone who experiences pain or discomfort when using traditional barbells. We love trap bar deadlifts vs. conventional barbell deadlifts because of the reduction in shoulder strain.

The neutral grip provided by open trap bars can also help improve your grip strength and reduce the risk of wrist and elbow injuries. This is especially important for athletes who perform deadlifts and shrugs, which stress the upper body significantly.

What’s The Best Open Trap Bar?

This question comes down to personal preference. The Rep Fitness Open Trap Bar, in our opinion, is the best option based on build quality, available features, aesthetics, and price.

We love that Rep Fitness allows for swappable handles that can be changed in about 60 seconds while providing wide and narrow grips and different handle width sizes.

This specialty bar also features a tubular design that is comfortable on our shoulders during squats and easy to grab hold of when moving the bar or performing fat-grip-style farmer carries.

The bar also features knurled handles that are moderately aggressive and a built-in deadlift jack that is among the best in the industry.

The Best Overall Open Trap Bar
Open Trap Bar Facts

Rep Fitness

Open Trap Bar

With a very strong build, a comfortable tubular design, and large loadable sleeves, the Rep Fitness Open Trap bar is our top pick for the best Open Trap bar on the market.

10 Most Common Traits Found On Open Trap Bars

While the design of Open Trap Bars varies, they often share several common traits.

These common features can help reduce injury, simplify loading weight plates, provide aesthetically pleasing designs, make lifts more comfortable, and much more.

  • Rectangular frame: Open trap bars are typically rectangular with either rounded or straight corners. Sometimes, a tubular design provides additional shoulder comfort during squats and a grippable area for farmer carries and other exercises.
  • Neutral grip handles: Open trap bars have handles on both sides that allow you to use a neutral grip (palms facing each other) rather than a pronated grip (palms facing down).
  • Deadlift Jacks: Open Trap bars often provide a built-in deadlift jack, making loading and unloading weight plates a breeze. The deadlift jacks often include plastic or rubber feet which help protect gym floors from damage.
  • Weight capacity: Open trap bar capacities range from 300 to 1,500 pounds.
  • Knurled handles: Most open trap bars have knurled handles that provide extra grip and prevent slipping, while several bars have implemented smooth steel grips.
  • Olympic-sized plates: Many open trap bars are designed to be used with Olympic-sized weight plates. Our Best Open Trap Bars for a home gym list only includes options supporting 2″ weight plates.
  • Powder-coated finish: Some open trap bars have a powder-coated finish that provides extra durability and resistance to scratches and chips. We prefer this method of coating because of its resistance to rusting and corrosion.
  • Adjustable height: Some open trap bars have adjustable height settings, allowing you to customize the height of the bar to your specific needs. Height adjustments are completed by either gripping different handles or switching out handles as needed.
  • Sleeve length: The sleeve length on an open trap bar refers to the length of the bar where the weight plates are loaded. Most open trap bars have sleeves that are 10-12 inches long on average.

Benefits of Using Open Trap Bars

Open Trap Bar Benefits
Photo Credit: Eleiko
  1. Reduced Joint Pain: Open trap bars distribute weight evenly across your body, reducing stress on your lower back and joints.
  2. Improved Grip Strength: The neutral grip provided by open trap bars can help improve your grip strength, which is essential for exercises like deadlifts and shrugs.
  3. Versatility: Open trap bars can be used for various exercises, including deadlifts, squats, and rows.
  4. Increased Muscle Activation: Open trap bars allow you to engage more muscles than traditional barbells, increasing muscle activation and improving overall strength.
  5. Easy to Use: Open trap bars are easy to use, making them a great option for beginners and seasoned athletes. As a bonus, many free videos online show you dozens of exercises you can perform with this useful gym equipment.

FAQs – Benefits of Open Trap Bars on the Body

We’ve combined some of the information above and the most popular Open Trap bar questions we could find online. Hopefully, this will help you decide if this specialty bar is right for you.

How can using an Open Trap Bar reduce stress on the lumbar spine?

A: The Open Trap Bar allows for a more upright torso position than conventional deadlifts, reducing strain and stress on your lumbar spine.

How can using an Open Trap Bar improve your deadlifts?

A: Open Trap Bar deadlifts can help improve the technique and strength of straight bar deadlifts by training you to understand what a neutral spine feels like, leading to a safer deadlift.

Can the Open Trap Bar be used by lifters with limitations?

A: Yes, the Open Trap Bar can allow lifters to do pulls when rehabbing or have a reduced range of motion.

Is the Open Trap Bar good for the quads?

A: Yes, the Open Trap Bar demands more quad activation than conventional deadlifts, in addition to working the glutes and hamstrings.

Is the Open Trap Bar easy to learn?

A: Yes, Open Trap Bar deadlifts are easier to learn and perform with good form than straight bar deadlifts, making it a great option for new lifters or those not comfortable with their deadlift form.

How is the weight distribution different on the Open Trap Bar?

A: The weight with an Open Trap Bar sits to the sides of your body, not in front of you, which shifts the feeling of the lift and is great for functional strength training.

Can heavier loads be lifted with the Open Trap Bar?

A: Most people can lift about 5-10% heavier on an Open Trap Bar than on a straight bar, leading to more power and velocity.

Can using the Open Trap Bar improve your vertical jump?

A: Yes, loaded, vertical jumps with an Open Trap Bar can improve your jump power in other sports.

Is the Open Trap Bar more forgiving for grip strength?

A: Yes, neutral handles on an Open Trap Bar are easier to grip than double overhand on a barbell, allowing you to train your legs and back harder before your grip stops you.

How can the Open Trap Bar improve Olympic lifts?

A: An Open Trap Bar can help Olympic weightlifters train their muscles for a clean pull, which requires a more upright torso position than a conventional deadlift allows.

Is the Open Trap Bar easier on the shins?

A: Yes, the Open Trap Bar eliminates the contact between your skin and the knurling of a straight barbell, making it a great option for those who want to avoid bruises and blood.

Is the Open Trap Bar great for tall lifters?

A: Yes, the Open Trap Bar provides a compound pulling exercise with less demand on mobility and flexibility, making it a great option for tall lifters with poor mobility.

How versatile is the Open Trap Bar?

A: The Open Trap Bar is surprisingly versatile, allowing you to use it for exercises such as neutral-grip presses, farmer’s carries, Romanian deadlifts, shrugs, and more, in addition to traditional pulls.

How to Use Open Trap Bars For The Three Most Popular Exercises

The Titan Fitness Open Trap Bar
Photo Credit: Titan Fitness
  1. Open Trap Bar Deadlifts

    Stand in the center of the open trap bar with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab the handles with a neutral grip and lift the weight by standing up, keeping your back straight and your core engaged.
  2. Squats

    Load the open trap bar with weight and stand in the center with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down, keeping your back straight and your core engaged, then stand up again to complete the repetition.
  3. Rows

    Load the open trap bar with weight and stand in the center with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and hinge at the hips, then pull the weight towards your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together.

Final Thoughts

The Open Trap bar is a game changer for home gym owners. We love this specialty bar type for its functionality, aesthetics, breadth of exercises available, and its often low price points.

Still not sure which bar to buy? Check out our list of the best open trap bars for more in-depth information.

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Written by James Kosur

James is a 20-year veteran of the digital media industry, an avid gym builder, and a dad to four kids, three dogs, and two cats. He's a DIYer who loves building stuff with his hands and a gamer who enjoys all facets of gaming.