Connect with us

Bodybuilding News

The 10 Best Trap Exercises

Published

on

The Best Trap Exercises

What are the best trap exercises?

The best trap exercises will have you looking and feeling your best in no time — all it takes is time and consistency. 

The trapezius muscles, better known as the trap muscles, start at the base of the neck, run across the shoulders, and extend to the middle of the back. 

The trap exercises we share in this post will focus on hitting the middle and upper traps, along with some additional upper body burn. 

If big traps are a challenge for you to build, this post has got you covered. Trap muscles, we’re coming for you!

 

The Best Trap Exercises

Our exercise lists are created by determining the best exercises for muscle growth, core strength, and overall health and well-being. 

Here’s our list of the 10 best trap exercises:

 

10. Dumbbell Lateral Raises

The Best Trap Exercises - Dumbbell Lateral Raises

Great for:

Building stability and strength in the shoulders while prioritizing form and posture in the upper body. 

How to do it:

  1. Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, feet hip-width apart 
  2. Slowly lift the weights out to your sides, parallel with the floor 
  3. Keep your elbows slightly bent to avoid strain 
  4. Pause for a second, then slowly lower the weights 
  5. Repeat as desired 

Why:

Acquiring the highly sought-after V-shaped torso can’t be done without lateral raises; it’s one of those trap workouts you’ll feel for days! 

Not only do lateral raises sculpt the back muscles, but they also improve shoulder mobility and help to protect the joints in the arms from injury.

It can also activate the core if you’re squeezing as you lift for an additional abdominal burn. 

When:

This move seems like it would be easy, but in reality, it’s extremely challenging. 

We recommend selecting weights lighter than you think you’ll need because they catch up on you pretty quickly.

Try to do a set of 10 raises with perfect form, and then grab heavier weights.

 

9. Barbell Rows

The Best Trap Exercises - Barbell Rows

Great for:

Gaining back strength and size, activating the core, and improving grip strength. 

How to do it:

  1. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on a barbell 
  2. Hold the bar in an overhand grip 
  3. Keep your hips high and your back straight 
  4. Hinge your hips and pull the bar up against your lower chest, then lower 
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

For a full-body compound exercise, you really can’t get much better than the barbell row. 

You’re working the upper trap muscles, lower back, hips, core, and arms all at once. You’ll also see an increase in bicep strength and appearance.

It can improve your grip strength and help you build muscle endurance. 

When:

Rows are a great addition to any arm or back workout, so be sure to incorporate them 3 times a week to get the results you’re looking for.

 

8. Incline Dumbbell Shrugs

The Best Trap Exercises - Incline Dumbbell Shrugs

Great for:

Strengthening the upper back, traps, and neck muscles simultaneously.  

How to do it:

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie facedown on an incline bench
  2. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your back straight
  3. Slowly shrug your shoulders up to your ears
  4. Pause at the top of the movement and squeeze your back muscles 
  5. Lower the weights back down and repeat 

Why:

To improve posture and increase strength in the back and arms, incline dumbbell shrugs are an essential exercise to add to your repertoire. 

Thanks to the unique positioning on the incline bench, this move helps to target the mid-traps, which are notoriously hard to reach in other back exercises.

If you’re on the hunt for trap exercises with dumbbells, look no further. 

When:

Shrugs are controllable and low-impact enough that they can be performed 4 to 5 times a week. 

To target the specific mid-trap, perform 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps and watch your traps explode with strength and mass.

 

7. Face Pulls

The Best Trap Exercises - Face Pulls

Great for:

Activating the lower and mid-traps and rear delts for the ultimate sculpting movement.

How to do it:

  1. Attach a long rope to a pulley system, and take a seat at the machine
  2. Grab the rope in both hands and pull so your hands go above your ears
  3. Fully contract your back muscles at the ending position, and release
  4. Repeat as desired

Why:

The resistance and movement required in a face pull successfully activate several muscle groups in your back, including the traps.

When:

Face pulls can be performed in and out of the gym (if you have the right equipment) 2 to 3 times a week. 

Make sure your form and posture are strong, and try to do as many reps (up to 25) as you can.

Stop after your last rep that feels like you need to drop the rope and rest.

 

6. Rack Pulls

The Best Trap Exercises - Rack Pulls

Great for:

Lifting heavy and targeting the upper and mid-back. The traps won’t know what hit them!

How to do it:

  1. Stand in a power rack with the safety bar at your knees
  2. Hinge at the hips, grab the bar in an overhand grip, and pull it to lockout
  3. Lower the weight slowly, against the resistance on the way down
  4. Repeat as desired

Why:

Ask any seasoned weightlifter, and they’ll tell you that rack pulls are essential to effectively targeting the traps. 

Because the range of motion is limited, rack pulls allow you to lift much heavier than you normally could in other moves.

This builds on the traps isometrically and will have you feeling the burn in no time.

When:

Because of the weight and range of motion, rack pulls are for a more experienced lifter.

However, if you feel your strength has grown, try a set of 8 to 10 reps and go from there.

 

5. Farmer’s Walk

The Best Trap Exercises - Farmer's Walk

Great for:

Targeting muscles in both the upper and lower body and building core strength.

How to do it:

  1. Grab two heavy dumbbells, one in each hand 
  2. Secure your grip — you can add straps if you aren’t totally comfortable 
  3. Take controlled steps in a straight line, either for time or distance 
  4. Make sure your posture is upright and strong, and your shoulders are down

Why:

Even if we don’t realize it, our upper back carries a lot of tension when we have things in our hands.

This is why the Farmer’s Walk is an effective exercise to train the traps; it forces your traps to engage through every step

You’ll also benefit from the posture strength this move provides, along with the activation of your core muscles. 

When

Anywhere you have a pair of dumbbells, and the space to walk is a good time to complete the Farmer’s walk. 

It’s enough of a low-impact exercise (if you’re doing it correctly) that it can be done up to five times a week. Just make sure your grip is strong and get to walkin’!

 

4. Barbell Deadlifts

The Best Trap Exercises - Barbell Deadlifts

Great for:

Activating the hip extensors, core, and back muscles while offering a nice metabolism boost.

How to do it:

  1. Load a barbell and roll it against your shins (Use deadlift socks to protect your shins)
  2. Bend at the hips and knees, then grab the bar with an overhand grip
  3. Hands should be at a shoulder-width distance
  4. Pull your torso up by thrusting your hips forward and stand up with the barbell 
  5. Keep it as close to your body as you lift, squeezing the glutes as you rise
  6. Lower the bar to the floor
  7. Repeat as desired 

Why:

For athletes, professional weightlifters, and the general public, deadlifting can be an excellent way to build strength and muscle mass and work on your form while strengthening muscle groups all over your upper body. 

There are so many variations with deadlifts that it truly offers something for everyone.

Deadlifts will target the muscles in your back, your hamstrings and glutes, and your core. 

When:

Because of the nature of the movement, don’t overdo it with deadlift exercises.

Try to perform this movement 2 to 3 times a week, with anywhere from 8 to 10 reps per set. 

Deadlifting should feel difficult, and if it doesn’t, it’s likely you’ve reached a strength plateau, and it’s time to add weight.

 

3. Dumbbell Shrugs

The Best Trap Exercises - Dumbbell Shrugs

Great for:

Unilateral trapezoid training to alleviate muscle imbalances and improve grip strength. 

How to do it:

  1. Seated or standing, grab a dumbbell in each hand with your chest up and shoulders lowered
  2. Raise the upper traps up towards your ears as high as you can 
  3. Hold for one second, then slowly lower the shoulders back down to the starting position
  4. Repeat as desired 

Why:

If you’re aware of a muscle imbalance in one of your arms or back muscles, dumbbell shrugs can help to even out those areas.

Unilateral training is highly beneficial for any muscle group, and the shrug offers that type of strength training. 

Shrugs are a more natural movement than others on this list, making them a desirable move for newcomers to lifting or those who are prioritizing building strength. 

When:

Dumbbell shrugs can be done in conjunction with any back day strength training workout. 

Try to complete two sets of 8 to 10 shrugs, and as you feel your traps start to gain strength and the move becomes easier, add weight.

 

2. Barbell Shrugs

The Best Trap Exercises - Barbell Shrugs

Great for:

Building a powerful upper back through small movements and heavy weights.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a barbell in an overhand grip, hands just outside the thighs
  2. Lift the shoulders straight up and hold for two seconds
  3. Lower the shoulders back down, and lift again
  4. Repeat as desired 

Why:

While the movements in a shrug may seem small, this allows you to load up the barbell with a heavy amount of weight.

The heavier the lift, the harder the traps have to work. This results in bigger muscles, a stronger back, and achieving the jacked look you are going for.

When:

Barbell shrugs can be done anywhere you have the room and the right equipment.

Try working this move into your arms or back day routine, with 8 to 10 reps per set, 2 to 3 times a week.

 

1. Trap Bar Shrugs

The Best Trap Exercises - Trap Bar Shrugs

Great for:

Heavy, safe training for the traps with the most resistance you can muster.  

How to do it:

  1. Assume the standing position of a standard deadlift
  2. Shrug your shoulders up and towards your ears, without rounding the shoulders
  3. Squeeze at the top of the movement, then lower back down 
  4. Repeat as desired

Why:

As our #1 trap exercise, trap bar shrugs really are the whole package when it comes to providing your traps a health burn while preventing injury. 

The neutral grip on the bar removes stress from the elbows and wrists, allowing you to lift heavier and complete more reps without causing any strain to your arms or shoulders. 

When:

Perform trap bar shrugs as a complementary exercise to any arm or back day workout.

If you’re looking to build muscle mass, load the barbell with a higher weight so you can really challenge those traps.

 

FAQs About Trap Exercises

Got questions about hitting those upper and middle traps? Need help figuring out what the best trap workout is for you? We’ve got answers!

 

Q: What muscles make up the traps?

Three muscles make up the trapezius — the upper trapezius, middle trapezius, and lower trapezius. 

All three muscles work together to help the body with many motions and movements in your home gym, at work, and in your daily life.

 

Q: Why is it important to workout traps?

Strong traps lead to great posture and support many movements, including tilting the head up and down, standing up straight, twisting your torso, and shrugging your shoulders.

To perform all these movements without muscle strain, soreness or injury, it’s important to exercise the traps and isolate the muscles to build strength and increase flexibility.

 

Q: How do I build huge traps?

Building huge traps takes time and dedication. 

The secret to big traps lies in the exercises you perform, the weight you lift (the heavier, the better), and how often you prioritize rest and recovery. 

 

Q: Is it okay to train traps every day?

If you’re using light weights and not overdoing it, training the traps every day won’t cause any harm to your body.

However, using light weights on the trap muscles can delay achieving muscular hypertrophy. 

Traps are built through heavy weight lifting.

We recommend training the traps three to four times a week and allowing for two days of recovery, so the muscles are well-rested for the next lift.

 

Q: What is the best exercise for your traps?

The best exercise for your traps is definitely the trap bar shrug.

Thanks to the bar, you can overload the weight and still safely lift and target the trap muscles.

When it comes to trap exercises for mass, trap bar shrugs get our vote every time.

 

Summary 

At the end of the day, building big traps can be a challenge, but we know you’re up for it! 

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away; some professional weightlifters focus on their traps for several years before obtaining their ideal results. 

Good things take time, and jacked trap muscles are no exception! The best trap exercise for you is definitely on this list. 

Here’s a quick recap of the 10 best trap exercises:

  1. Trap Bar Shrugs
  2. Barbell Shrugs
  3. Dumbbell Shrugs
  4. Barbell Deadlifts
  5. Farmer’s Walk
  6. Rack Pulls
  7. Face Pulls
  8. Incline Dumbbell Shrugs
  9. Barbell Rows
  10. Dumbbell Lateral Raises

What’s your favorite trap exercise? Leave a comment below. 

With almost two decades of lifting experience under his belt, Matt shares his knowledge and expertise with us around bodybuilding and supplementation. Deadlifts and barbell curls are his go-to exercises, and, when he's not writing about health and fitness, you'll find him in the gym busting out some arms! Follow Jacked Gorilla on Instagram: @jackedgorillanews

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.