Get an incredibly muscular physique with well-developed trapezius muscles. The trapezius muscles, or traps, are located at the top and center of your back. This three-part muscle attaches to the base of your skull and continues down the middle of your spine. Exercises that specifically target this muscle group will add both size and definition to your back and create a strong frame. Plus, traps not only look great when they’re strong and defined, but they also improve your posture and help prevent shoulder injuries.
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The upper traps are the easiest section to target. They allow movement of the scapula and cervical spine, including upward rotation, as well as shoulder stability.
The mid-hatch rests on the back of your shoulders. These muscles are responsible for the retraction of the scapula. They also support the function and movement of nearby muscles.
The lower traps aid in upward rotation, posterior tilt, and external rotation of the scapula, and also provide stabilization of the scapula in other movements.
Best trap training and drills
Barbell shrugs are a great trapping exercise to accentuate upper traps and build strength. To get the most out of your shrugs, you’ll need to focus on both your grip and the retraction of your shoulder blades. First, for your grip, make sure you hold the bar with a wide grip. In doing so, the direction of movement reflects the direction of the fibers in the muscle. Second, for shoulder position, focus on bringing your shoulder blades together, rather than just pulling them up. This will ensure you have maximum activation, and therefore results.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the barbell overhand, wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Increase the weight, focusing on compressing your shoulder blades, activating this mid-trap section.
- Release the weight with control.
2. One-Arm Dumbbell Row
Engage your entire body, not just your traps, with a one-arm dumbbell row. One-arm rows are excellent for working the entire muscular region of the back, including the traps, lats, and other stabilizing muscles. However, you can make a small modification to emphasize the top traps. This is done with a simple shrug to bring the arm into the row. Another benefit of the one-arm row is identifying if you have a weak side and being able to work on it. You’ll also build core strength, as your abs engage to avoid twisting. Plus, because this exercise is done standing up, is more athletic, and requires full body activation.
- Stand facing the back of an incline bench so you can hold on with one hand. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing forward, bend your knees slightly, and bow at the hips, so your buttocks stick out.
- Hold the dumbbell in one hand and hang onto the upright of the incline bench with the other.
- Keep your arm straight and raise your shoulder so it pulls your arm up and back.
- Once your shoulder is up, continue to pull the weight toward your chest, allowing your elbow to extend behind your body.
- Release the weight with control.
- Perform a full set on one arm before switching to the other.
3. Pull the rack
Rack pull-ups are a great way to build mass and maximize your top trap activity. Starting the pull at knee height is the section of the lift where the upper traps have the highest level of engagement. Additionally, as the range of motion of this lift is reduced, it is also the perfect opportunity to increase your weight to overload the muscles. However, be sure to load within your relative abilities, or you risk injuring yourself. The final thing to note with a rack pull-up is to focus on retracting your shoulder blades, pulling them together to ensure your shoulders don’t round out as you lift.
- Settle down with your barbell on the rack just above knee height.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, lean forward at the hips, bend your knees slightly, and grab the bar with an overhand grip.
- Pull the bar straight up, focusing on compressing the shoulder blades. When you pull, your body straightens. The movement should end with the bar in front of your thighs.
- Release the weight with control.
Feel the burn in your upper back, build stability and improve posture with good quality facial traction. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to do this exercise correctly. The first is equipment. Ideally, you would use a cable machine with ropes long enough to achieve full arm extension. In addition, you will have to shoot from an anchor point above your head. Second is your standing position. You must be square at the cable machine, in an athletic stance. The third is your grip. You want to use a grip and steer with your thumbs, so they win the race behind your head. Next, you want to shoot at your face height – aim for your nose. Finally, don’t use too much weight – you want enough for a good contraction, but not too much to need momentum.
- Get into an athletic, square position on the cable machine. Your feet will be wider than hip-width apart, knees bent but shins upright, hips set back and chest up. Anchor the cable above your head.
- Hold the ropes with both hands, in an underhand grip.
- Pull the cables towards your face, directing them with your thumbs. At the back of the move, your traps should be fully contracted. Also, your arms will be spread wide, elbows bent at 90 degrees.
- Release cables with control.
- If you want to improve on this trapping exercise, at the back of the movement, add an overhead overhead press to engage your lower muscles.
5. Dumbbell Bench Press
The final trap exercise to try is the dumbbell bench press. Essentially, this is a shoulder press, but lying on your stomach. It is a difficult exercise and requires only light weights, if any. This exercise will target the lower traps, which are the most often overlooked part of the muscle group. The goal is to keep the weights off the ground for the duration of the workout.
- Lie on your stomach on the floor, with your forehead touching the floor. Do not give in to existential fear.
- Hold a weight in each hand and keep your arms suspended just above the floor.
- Start with your arms bent at your sides, so the weight is around your shoulder. Focus on compressing your shoulder blades.
- Press up until your arms are straight above your head, still hovering just above the floor.
- Bring your hands back to your shoulders, again, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Trap Workout FAQs
What exercises work your traps?
Exercises that work specifically with your traps include dumbbell shrugs, one-arm dumbbell rows, rack pulls, face pulls, and dumbbell flat bench presses. Other suitable activities include barbell deadlifts, vertical rows, and lateral raises.
How to build huge traps?
You build huge traps the same way you build any other muscle – by incorporating exercises that target that muscle area. You will also need to perform them steadily and steadily while gradually increasing the weight as you get stronger. It will continue to challenge your muscles and build bulk as well as strength.
Are the pitfalls shoulders or back?
Although the traps allow movement of the shoulders and attach to the shoulder blade, they are considered part of the back. It’s a three-part muscle that attaches to the base of your skull and continues down the middle of your spine.
How can I build my trapeze at home?
If you invest in a good set of dumbbells, you can include plenty of exercises in a home workout to build your traps. Try shrugs, vertical rows, one-arm rows, push-ups, farmer carries, military presses, lateral raises, and bench presses.
Do pumps work like traps?
Push-ups can work the middle and lower traps, especially if you focus on compressing the shoulder blades.
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