The traps in your body are one of the most important muscle groups that are responsible for shoulder movement, neck stabilization, and upper back strength. Neglecting your traps can result in poor posture, weak shoulders, and a lack of overall strength in the upper body. But fear not, because with the right trap workouts, you can unleash the full potential of this muscle group and achieve the muscular, toned back you’ve always wanted!
This ultimate guide to trap workouts will provide you with everything you need to know to effectively train your traps, including exercises, tips, and tricks for maximum results. And to make matters more interesting, these best exercises for traps are for beginners and experienced lifters!
Before anything else, it’s vital to have a solid understanding of the trapezius anatomy. Otherwise, you might be doing more harm than good! So, trapezius muscles are divided into three main regions: the upper traps, middle traps, and lower traps. Each region plays a distinct role in various movements and exercises.
For instance, upper traps are responsible for elevating the shoulder blades (obviously) and supporting movements whenever it requires shrugging and upright rows. Moving on to the middle traps, they are responsible for retracting or squeezing the shoulder blades together.
Middle traps are also essential to maintain a good posture which can be a common issue in today's sedentary lifestyle.
Lastly, lower traps are for assisting the movements of shoulder blades whenever you try to do movements like pull-ups. If you have a developed lower trap region – congrats! Because that means you have great overall back strength.
10 Best Exercises for Traps
We want to showcase the 10 Best Exercises for Traps right away. Here, we've curated exercises tailored for beginners, intermediate, and advanced levels to help you unleash your strength and sculpt your traps like never before!
1. Trap Bar Deadlift
This popular exercise will target multiple muscle groups including the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and lower back. It is a variation of the conventional deadlift that can be more beginner-friendly. Plus, as you become an expert in Trap Bar Deadlift – as we know you will, you can work with heavier loads to build big muscles!
How to do the Trap Bar Deadlift?
First, set up the bar and make sure you’re at the center. Then, stand inside the bar and position your feet hip-width apart. Set your grip, lower your hips down, engage your core, lift the bar, and keep your back flat. It’s important to maintain proper form, stand up tall, and then lower the bar to reverse the movement of your hip.
Here’s a link to a YouTube video on how to do the Trap Bar Deadlift.
2. Incline Dumbbell Row
This next trap workout primarily targets your upper back. Keep in mind that you have to start with lighter weights when it comes to Incline Dumbbell Row and you should focus on controlled movements rather than using the momentum to lift the dumbbells.
How to do the Incline Dumbbell Row?
Have an incline bench position at a 45-degree angle and pick up a dumbbell in each hand. Adjust your position and carefully walk your way up to the incline bench. Place your chest against the inclined pad and keep your feet planted on the floor for stability. Begin moving your arms by retracting your shoulder blades. Perform the row.
Here’s a link to a YouTube video on how to do the Incline Dumbbell Row.
3. Farmer’s Carry
Ah, the simple one. The Farmer's Carry is a simple yet effective exercise that involves walking while holding heavy weights in each hand. Piece of cake, right? It primarily targets the muscles of the upper back, shoulders, core, and grip strength.
How to do the Farmer’s Carry?
Select the weights you can carry, stand tall with feet hip-width apart, and walk with the weights on your grip. Try to maintain stability and do this for a set distance or time.
4. Dumbbell Shrug
This versatile trap workout is often used as a standalone exercise that specifically targets back muscles. But, keep in mind that it’s important to focus on maintaining your proper form and gradually progressing to heavier weights to challenge your muscles effectively.
How to do the Dumbbell Shrug?
Stand in a proper posture with your feet close to each other. Hold the dumbbells in each hand and allow your arms to just hang on your sides. Take a deep breath and exhale as you elevate your shoulders towards your ears in a controlled manner. This is the primary movement of the dumbbell shrug.
Here’s a link to a YouTube video on how to do the Dumbbell Shrug.
5. Dumbbell Snatch
Dynamic. Explosive. Compound. These three words are how we can describe this trap workout. It combines powerful hip extension with an overhead press – resulting in developed power, strength, and coordination.
How to do the Dumbbell Snatch?
Begin in a standing position with a dumbbell in your one hand. Make sure that your core and back is engaged. Bend your knees and lower into a partial squat position. Keep your chest up and your weight balanced on your heels. From the squat position, forcefully extend your hips and knees while simultaneously driving the dumbbell upward. This explosive movement generates the power for the snatch. Also, try to stand up and lock your body before lowering the dumbbell and doing it all over again with the other hand.
Here’s a link to a YouTube video on how to do the Dumbbell Snatch!
6. Rack Pull
Rack Pull is another variation of deadlift that involves lifting the weight from an elevated position. Though many gym rats consider this as a complex movement, Rack Pull targets muscles of the posterior chain like your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.
How to do the Rack Pull?
Pick a barbell and place them on a safety pin at knee height (or can be slightly above), stand in front of the bar with your feet shoulder-width apart, and then position yourself. Bend your hip and knees and carefully reach down to grab the bar with an overhand grip. Finally, lift the bar and keep your back straight to initiate rack pull. Make sure your core is engaged and push through your heels so you will get accurate results (and after pains).
Here’s a link to a YouTube video on how to do the Rack Pull.
7. Calf Raise Machine Shrug
Incorporating trap workouts like the Calf Raise Machine Shrug to your lower body or full-body routine is highly beneficial to improve strength and upper back development. But, it’s highly advisable that you consult with a fitness professional before performing this exercise or if you are brand new to weightlifting.
How to do the Calf Raise Machine Shrug?
As the name suggests, you need a Calf Raise Machine for this trap workout. Stand inside of it by lowering your knees and making sure that you are comfortable and in perfect body posture. Gently put the weights of the machine on your shoulder and start to initiate the movement by simultaneously shrugging your shoulders by pulling them up towards your ears. You may try to hold the position for a brief moment and focus on squeezing your calf muscles. Don’t do this workout too fast!
Here’s a link to a YouTube video on how to do the Calf Raise Machine Shrug!
8. Bent Over Dumbbell Rows
Here we target the rear deltoid muscles as Bent Over Dumbbell Rows is one of the best trap exercises that target the middle and lower traps, rhomboids, and some parts of your rotator cuffs! You may also perform this workout in a standing or seating position.
Also Read: When to Take Creatine: Dos and Don’ts
How to do the Bent Over Dumbbell Rows?
First, find a bench you can sit on, bend a little forward and keep the dumbbell on your sides. Lift the dumbbell and raise them on your sides – making sure that the level is only slightly higher than your shoulders. Lower the dumbbell slowly and repeat the process.
Here’s a link to a YouTube video on how to do the Bent Over Dumbbell rows!
9. T-Bar Row
If you want hypertrophic (big word, right?) muscle growth, T-bar Row is one of the most frequently incorporated trap exercises to do just that. It’s a compound movement that allows you to build a stronger back and develop a quality, sexy physique – now who doesn’t want that?
How to do the T-Bar Row?
Stand on a T-Bar machine and grab its handles ensuring an overhand grip. It’s also vital to keep your feet apart while your knees are slightly bent. Then, bend your hips, keep your back arched, and lift the bar until it reaches your chest. Lower the T-bar handles slowly until it touches the ground. Repeat the process while following a healthy trap workout rep!
Here’s a link to a YouTube video on how to do the T-Bar Row!
10. Wide Grip Pull Ups
This is also one of the easiest trap workouts you’ll ever do. You can even do it at home! The Wide Grip Pull-Ups, though harder than regular pull-ups, can increase the strength, thickness, and width of your back. It also influences your lats as you form a “V” movement in your upper back.
How to do the Wide Grip Pull-Ups?
First, make sure that you are using an overhand grip before grabbing onto a pull-up bar. Then, keep your hands spaced wider than the shoulder width. Hang on to the bar, keep your arms fully extended, and pull yourself up as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold the movement at the top for seconds before lowering your body again.
Here’s a link to a YouTube video on how to do the Wide Grip Pull-Ups.
Whoa! All these trap workouts sound so exhausting yet they benefit the most if compared to other exercises out there. By following these trap workouts and gradually increasing the weights and intensity, you'll be well on your way to developing strong, well-defined traps that will impress both in and out of the gym!
Benefits of Strong Trap Muscles
Having strong trap muscles not only benefits the overall function and flexibility of your upper body but also fixes your posture and ensures that you have the stability of a giant. Other benefits of strong trap muscles include:
- Developed shoulder health
- Better neck and body support
- Athletic performance
- Prevent injuries
- Assisted exercises due to build body muscles
- Beautiful physique and defined appearance of the upper body
- Greater functional movements for other physical activities
Remember, a well-rounded fitness program should include exercises targeting all major muscle groups, and your trap muscles are no exception. With all these benefits, you’ll surely bring home the bacon when it comes to greater upper body strength!
Build Those Traps with These 10 Exercises
The traps are an important muscle group that can greatly contribute to your overall strength and physique. By following the exercises and techniques outlined in this guide, you can effectively target and develop your traps for a well-rounded and impressive upper body.
Keep in mind that consistency and proper form are key to achieving the best results. Get ready to see those traps grow and dominate your fitness goals!
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