Rep Fitness Open Trap Bar Handles. Which Set Should You Buy?

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It’s no secret that Rep Fitness has a winner on their hands with their open trap bar. Not only are open trap bars more versatile than conventional models, but the Rep Fitness version stands fairly far above their competition.

One of the many ways Rep’s open trap bar is better than most others is the availability of different width and diameter handles. This handle assortment allows you to tailor this highly-effective implement perfectly to your body type and training needs.

But for most, this is the first time they have ever had to make a decision like this. When presented with Rep’s four handle options, most people have no idea which is right for them.

So, let’s look at the handle options for your new Rep open trap bar and figure out which set is ideal for you.

What Are The Handle Options For The Rep Fitness Open Trap Bar?

As I mentioned, there are a total of four different handle sets you can get for this bar. They are easily interchangeable, and it wouldn’t be unusual for people to have multiple sets.

handles on the Rep Fitness open trap bar
The handle currently installed on my Rep open trap bar

Three of the sets are fixed. They have two handles on each side, a “high” and a “low.” The handles themselves are both the same diameter at 28mm. These handles are made from stainless steel and have a fairly aggressive knurl.

The difference between these three sets of handles is the width between them when installed. They are listed as “wide,” “standard,” and “narrow.”

The wide set is 27.3″ apart, the standard set is 25″ apart, and the narrow set is 23″ apart.

All three are the same distance from the floor, with the low handle at 8.3″ and the high at 11.3″ from the ground.

The fourth set is called a “rotating handle.” Three different handles can rotate on the fly on each side of your bar. This allows quick changes intra-workout between the three options.

The difference between the three handles is the handle diameter. They are 28mm, 38mm, and 48mm.

Handles for the Rep Fitness open trap bar
All 4 handle options for the Rep open trap bar.
FeatureNarrowStandardWideRotating
Materialstainless steelstainless steelstainless steelsteel & hard chrome
Knurlaggressiveaggressiveaggressiveaggressive
Diameter28mm28mm28mm28mm, 38mm, 48mm
Weight17.2 lbs15.9 lbs12.8 lbs34 lbs
Distance Between Handles23″25″27.3″24.6″
Low/High Handle Height8.3″/11.3″8.3″/11.3″8.3″/11.3″~10″
More details can be found here.

Why Are There Different Handle Options For the Rep Fitness Open Trap Bar?

First, everyone’s body is different. When using this bar for heavy deadlifts, having your hands in as close to a neutral, relaxed position as possible is beneficial. Ideally, you want to hinge down and have your hands naturally hit the handles by moving them inward or outward.

Fitting the handles to your body places the load on your legs instead of stressing your shoulders.

A good analogy is carrying a gallon of milk. If you hold the milk and let your arm hang straight down, you can carry the milk further and longer. But if you try to hold that gallon out away from your body, even a little, your shoulder is suddenly fatigued, and you cannot carry the milk as far.

Personally, I like using the wide handles as I’m 6’6″ and 230 lbs, so they fit my body the best.

Second, each handle can provide a slightly different stimulus to your body. Some people may want that extra stress on their shoulders. Others may wish to change their grip width based on the exercise.

Third, and this applies only to the rotating handles, larger handle diameters help to train your grip strength (a primary indicator of overall health and longevity). They can also help alleviate elbow pain, similar to using Fat Gripz on a standard barbell.

So, the short answer is instead of forcing your training to match your gear, you can now customize your equipment to fit your training goals perfectly!

How to Determine Which Handle Width is Right For You

I’ll give the easy method first. 

Do you or your friends think you have broad shoulders compared to others? Get the wide set.

Are you a small person compared to others? Get the narrow set.

And if you aren’t sure, you are probably an average size, and the standard set will work great for you.

The second method requires you to measure from the outside of one shoulder to the outside of the other. Get the handle set that is closest to this measurement. If you are between two sets, get the wider of the two.

Lifter using the Rep Fitness open trap bar handles.
Here you can see how the outside edge of his shoulders lines up almost perfectly with the handles. If you are only going to have one set of handles, this is the goal!

It’s easy to manage handles that are a fraction too wide, but if you go too narrow, you may feel cramped and uncomfortable while lifting.

LIfting a trap bar with handles that are too narrow.
Handles that are too narrow, like this, will make using your bar feel cramped and uncomfortable. If this guy stands up and pulls his shoulders back, you’d see that the handles are well inside the outside edge of his shoulders. They might not even be wider than his hips!

How to Determine Whether to Use the High or Low Handles

You get a low and a high option with the three non-rotating sets. While there are slight muscle activation differences between the two, I wouldn’t choose based on that.

Instead, look at low/high handles as a way to protect your lower back.

One of the worst things you can do while deadlifting, even with a trap bar, is to round your lower back. And ALL people do this if they hinge down too far.

Use the handle height that allows you to maintain a neutral spine through the entire range of the lift. Use the camera on your smartphone to assist with this, or have a friend watch you lift.

Set up your phone to your side, load the bar with light plates, and execute a deadlift. As you hinge down, your spine should stay neutral to the bottom of your range of motion. If it does not, you are going too low.

Try the high handles if your lower back starts to round at the bottom of the hinge. If you still see rounding, it’s time to set those weights on a block or bumper plates to raise the entire bar.

Elevate the bar until you can hinge down and grasp it without rounding your lower back. Over time, work to be able to go lower while maintaining a neutral spine. 

Neutral back form during a trap bar deadlift
This is what a neutral spine at the bottom of a trap bar deadlift looks like. You should only hinge down as far as you can without losing this back position. The low/high handles are a good way to make this adjustment!

How to Change the Handles on the Rep Open Trap Bar

Each handle set is held on by one bolt. Using the supplied Allen key, simply remove a single screw, fit the new handle set, and reinstall the screw.

That’s it! It really couldn’t be easier!

The Verdict

When you buy your open trap bar from Rep, you can pick which of these four handle sets comes with the bar. The three fixed handles come at no extra charge, while the rotating set will add $70 to the price of the bar.

If low/high handle height doesn’t benefit you much, I’d spring for the rotating handles. I have huge hands and really love the larger diameter. I can adjust handle height by placing the entire setup on plates or blocks.

If the low/high handle options appeal to you, you can always use a set of Fat Gripz to change handle diameter. You should have at least one pair of these in your gym anyway!

FAQ

Can I just buy the “standard” handles and be okay?

Yes! If you aren’t looking for an extra project in selecting handles, the default configuration on the Rep site is the standard handles. Those will work great for 99% of the people out there!

Do the rotating handles lock in place or move while lifting?

They don’t lock, but they won’t move either. The bar’s weight is enough to keep the handles from rotating while in use.

How aggressive is the knurl on this bar?

It’s not as aggressive as the Rep power bar EX (very sharp “mountain” style knurl), but it’s close. It’s perfect for heavy deadlifts, but if you don’t have callouses, you’ll wish you did.

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Tim Steward has been training at home since he got his first weight set from Sears in junior high. Over 30 years later, Tim has helped thousands of people build home and garage gyms that they love and use regularly. He also holds a CPT certification with the ISSA and is an NCCPT nationally accredited trainer. When Tim is not training or writing about home gyms, you can find him at the dog park with his two Australian cattle dogs, Anny and Beans.

2 thoughts on “Rep Fitness Open Trap Bar Handles. Which Set Should You Buy?”

    • Not at all, they are completely solid and motionless. If I were to only have one set of handles, it would be these.

      Reply

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