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The Best Trapezius Exercises - It Can Change The Way You Look

The trapezius muscle travels in a "V" pattern from just behind the skull, through the shoulders, and down the spine. Your shoulders and upper back are stabilized by your trapezius muscles.

Author:Alberto Thompson
Reviewer:Dexter Cooke
Dec 31, 2022
The best trapezius exercisesshould be a part of your regular training routine; otherwise, your routine is incomplete. After all, by concentrating on your trapezius muscles, which extend from the base of your neck to your mid-back, you'll stand out from the crowd of bobbleheads (i.e. those who focus on their core and arms while ignoring their trap muscles).
Here are some of the greatest trap workouts to help you build well-rounded strong muscles. Yes, it requires adding another workout to a demanding schedule, but we never promised this would be simple. Your trap muscles will grow, and your posture, definition, mobility, mass, and strength will all be enhanced.
Along with contributing significantly to your heavy lifts and giving you the distinctive bodybuilder look, adding muscle and strength to your traps also aids in maintaining good posture.

Trapezius Muscle Anatomy

Contrary to common opinion, your trapezius is far bigger than what you can see when you look in the mirror. It is just above your shoulders and extends over half of your back, inserts on your scapula, and runs down the back of your collarbones.
The trapezius's top, middle, and lower muscle fibers are often separated into three sections. The origins, insertions, and roles of the several trapezius sections vary:
  • Your cervical spine and the base of your skull are the sources of the higher fibers. Your collarbone's outer third is where they attach. Their primary job is to lift and support your shoulders and collarbones.
  • The middle fibers enter your shoulder blades from your cervical and upper thoracic spine. Your shoulder blades are rotated and retracted (pulled back and together) by them primarily.
  • The lower fibers insert on the bottom portion of your shoulder blades after extending from your lower thoracic spine. Your shoulder blades are primarily rotated and pulled down by them.
A shirtless man flexing his muscles in a gym
A shirtless man flexing his muscles in a gym

The Best Trapezius Exercises

The finest workouts for maintaining the strength of your trapezius are listed below.

Barbell Shrug

The barbell shrug is a terrific traps exercise for highlighting the upper traps and gaining power. You should pay close attention to both your grip and shoulder blade retraction to get the most out of your shrugs.
To begin with, make sure you have a broad grasp on the bar. As a result, the movement's direction corresponds to the orientation of the muscle's fibers. Second, concentrate on drawing your shoulder blades together rather than merely raising your shoulders. This will guarantee that you activate fully and get the best effects.

How To Do It

  • Place the bar in an overhand grip that is broader than shoulder-width while standing with your feet hip-width apart.
  • As you raise the weight, concentrate on pressing your shoulder blades together and engaging your mid-trap area.
  • Controlled weight release is required.

How to Do a Standing Barbell Shrug | Back Workout

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

Gammons says, “Unless you’re a bodybuilder trying to get a large trapezius, you need exercises to help the trapezius do its job well, stabilizing the shoulder and upper back,”

How To Do It

  • To accomplish it, simply press your shoulder blades together.
  • Make sure you are standing with a straight posture.
  • Squeeze the shoulder blades together slowly for three seconds.
  • Return the shoulder blades to their relaxed positions gradually.
  • Cables, a resistance band, or putting your arms out in front like a goal post are all options for performing this exercise.

How to Improve Posture and Shoulder Pain: shoulder blade squeeze. Physical Therapists recommended.

Trap Bar Shrug

Because they allow you to employ big weights securely, trap bar shrugs are a terrific method to overburden the traps. With the trap bar, you must adopt a grip that lessens strain on the anterior shoulder, elbows, and wrists. The trap bar shrug is a flexible training tool that may also be designed to build strength, hypertrophy, or power.

How To Do It

  • Starting from a standing posture, deadlift the trap bar as you would a regular deadlift.
  • Standing motionless, shrug the shoulders up and in the direction of the ears.
  • Make sure to lift your shoulders without rounding them in the forward direction.
  • When you reach the top, gently lower yourself.

Trap Bar Shrug


It wouldn't be complete if we didn't include shrugs in our list of the greatest exercises for traps. Shrugs are probably one of the first exercises that spring to mind when you think about exercising your traps, and for a good reason. This exercise assists in increasing muscle growth, strength, and endurance while also working your upper and middle traps.
Whatever your fitness level, shrugs are a terrific workout since they can be performed with anything from cables and a trap bar to dumbbells and barbells. They are the ideal traps workout because of this, especially if you lack the equipment or don't want to wait around for the barbell.

How To Do It

  • With proper posture, stand up.
  • As high as you can, raise your shoulders to align with your ears.
  • Hold for two counts.
  • Return them to their comfortable place.
  • Do it twenty times.

How To: Dumbbell Shrugs

Farmer’s Walk

It's likely that weight carries are already a part of your regular strength-training regimen. That generally suggests you are familiar with the farmer's walk, one of the greatest trapezius workouts.

How To Do It

  • Hold a dumbbell, kettlebell, or other weight in each hand, one on each side of your body.
  • While engaging your core and back, keep your posture solid and straight.
  • Take slow, deliberate steps and keep your posture upright.

FARMERS WALK | How-To Exercise Tutorial

Dumbbell One-Arm Row

With a dumbbell one-arm row, involve your entire body, not just your traps. The whole back muscular group, including the lats, traps, and other stabilizing muscles, may be effectively worked with one-arm rows. You can, however, make a minor adjustment to emphasize the upper traps.
In this situation, a simple shrug is used to get the arm into the row. The ability to determine if you have a weak side and improve on it is another advantage of the one-arm row. As your abdominals contract to stop you from twisting, you'll also strengthen your core. Additionally, this exercise involves complete body activation and is more athletic because it is performed standing up.

How To Do It

  • To hold on with one hand, stand towards the back of an inclined bench. Your feet should be apart with your toes pointing forward, your knees should be slightly bent, and your hips should be tilted forward.
  • With one hand holding the dumbbell, support your other hand on the incline bench's upright.
  • Maintaining a straight arm while lifting your shoulder will cause your arm to be pulled up and back.
  • Pull the weight towards your chest after shrugging your shoulder, letting your elbow stretch behind you.
  • Controlled weight release is required.
  • Before switching to the other arm, complete a full set on the first.

How To: Dumbbell Bent-Over Row (Single-Arm)


With this underrated trap technique, get your face involved in the action. If your goal is to perfect the form to strengthen your back and shoulders, you may execute the face pull with a cable machine or even a resistance band. According to Men's Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., "the face pull touches lower traps when done appropriately," which is actually super-critical and useful to shoulder health."

How To Do It

  • Position the resistance band or cable machine just above eye level.
  • In an underhand grip, seize the band's ends or the handles of the cable ropes.
  • Keep your elbows up and fight the impulse to slant downward as you squeeze your shoulder blades to draw toward your face.
  • Once you've retracted as far as you can, pause to squeeze before controlling the cable or bands back to the starting position.

Face Pulls | How To Perform Them Properly

Rack Pull

Rack pulls are a fantastic strategy to increase your upper trap activity and gain bulk. The part of the lift where the upper traps are most engaged is when the pull begins at knee height. Additionally, due to the limited range of motion in this exercise, this is the ideal time to add more weight to overload the muscles.
However, if you load above your relative capacity, you risk becoming hurt. In order to prevent your shoulders from rounding while you lift, please pay attention to pushing your shoulder blades together as you retract them during a rack pull.

How To Do It

  • Place your barbell on the rack, so it is slightly over knee level.
  • Standing with your feet hip-width apart, tuck your hips forward, flex your knees a little, and take an overhand hold on the barbell.
  • Squeezing the shoulder blades together as you lift the bar. Your body will straighten as you pull. When the exercise is complete, the barbell should be in front of your thighs.
  • Controlled weight release is required.

Rack Pulls | Lower Back | How-To Exercise Tutorial

Bent Over Y

Another workout that focuses on the lower trapezius muscles is presented here. Keep in mind to use lightweight when carrying out the following tasks.

How To Do It

  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart as you stand.
  • Thumbs facing up, hold a light dumbbell in each hand.
  • Maintain the posture while bending at the hips.
  • Your body should form a Y as you raise both arms in front of you.
  • After maintaining the Y shape, go back to the beginning position.

Bent Over Y

EZ-Bar Upright Row

The upper traps and shoulder muscles are exercised in this free-weight row variant to develop their capacity for scapular elevation, upward rotation, and shoulder abduction. Bodybuilders may use the upright row to enlarge their upper back and neck, while strength athletes can use it to strengthen their shoulders and improve their technique for Olympic routines. The motion will probably be more comfortable because of the EZ-bar, or cambered bar, which will likely lessen stress on the wrists and elbows.

How To Do It

  • Put your hands somewhat wider than shoulder-width on the bar.
  • Lock your body into position and raise the bar as you lift your shoulders, pausing briefly to flex your upper traps at the peak of the row.
  • Control the weight by lowering it.

How To Do An EZ BAR UPRIGHT ROW | Exercise Demonstration Video and Guide

People Also Ask

Why Are My Traps Not Growing?

Two elements are required for significant trap growth: greater weight and larger volume. Both should ideally be incorporated within each training session. With certain sets, you should aim to hit the traps as hard and with as much weight as you can, with repetitions around 6 to 8.

Which 4 Exercises Target The Trapezius?

Barbell shrugs, dumbbell one-arm rows, rack pulls, face pulls, and dumbbell prone presses are exercises that target your traps mainly.

Can I Train Traps Everyday?

You should be able to achieve the most pump in the muscle by working your traps three to four times per week while still giving yourself time for recovery. You should execute 4 to 6 sets of each trap exercise throughout your at-home workouts.


This article tells you about the best trapezius exercises. The anatomy of your trapezius muscles, some decent trapezius movements, and how to integrate them into a trapezius workout should all be clear to you by this point. Keep in mind to employ good form when completing any activity. Please speak with a personal trainer or other fitness expert if you have any questions.
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Alberto Thompson

Alberto Thompson

Alberto Thompson is an acclaimed journalist, sports enthusiast, and economics aficionado renowned for his expertise and trustworthiness. Holding a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Economics from Columbia University, Alberto brings over 15 years of media experience to his work, delivering insights that are both deep and accurate. Outside of his professional pursuits, Alberto enjoys exploring the outdoors, indulging in sports, and immersing himself in literature. His dedication to providing informed perspectives and fostering meaningful discourse underscores his passion for journalism, sports, and economics. Alberto Thompson continues to make a significant impact in these fields, leaving an indelible mark through his commitment and expertise.
Dexter Cooke

Dexter Cooke

Dexter Cooke is an economist, marketing strategist, and orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of experience crafting compelling narratives that resonate worldwide. He holds a Journalism degree from Columbia University, an Economics background from Yale University, and a medical degree with a postdoctoral fellowship in orthopedic medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina. Dexter’s insights into media, economics, and marketing shine through his prolific contributions to respected publications and advisory roles for influential organizations. As an orthopedic surgeon specializing in minimally invasive knee replacement surgery and laparoscopic procedures, Dexter prioritizes patient care above all. Outside his professional pursuits, Dexter enjoys collecting vintage watches, studying ancient civilizations, learning about astronomy, and participating in charity runs.
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