I haven’t met a serious bodybuilder, strength athlete, or fitness enthusiast who doesn’t appreciate the appearance and function of thick, massive trapezius muscles. Read on and discover the top five exercises for building huge traps. Discover the top five exercises for building huge traps that you may be neglecting.
As long as you’re training upper traps for that Dwayne Johnson–Esque, yoked-out look, it’s a good idea to hit the other two portions of the trapezius muscles as well as the middle and lower traps. Not so familiar with those? They’re part of the back musculature and are involved in a most pullup, pulldown, and rowing movements, but zeroing in on them via isolation exercises promotes balanced development that enhances posture and reduces injury risk.
Although the trapezius muscles take up a lot of real estate on your back and shoulders, most people treat them like accessory muscles. Well-developed traps can make your shoulders look bigger and can add the illusion of broad shoulders and a narrow waist to your physique.
The trapezius muscle extends longitudinally from the occipital bone to the lower thoracic vertebrae of the spine and laterally to the spine of the scapula. It helps in moving the scapula and supports the arm.
– Upright Row to Shoulder Press – 3 Sets 15-12-10 Reps
Since the traps are a relatively small muscle group, most people prefer training them with their shoulder or back. Since this article is all about building giant traps, we’ll focus on the trapezius muscle and the other shoulder heads.
In upright rows to shoulder press, hold the barbell with a shoulder-wide grip and let the bar rest against your quads. Pull the barbell up to your shoulders, rotate your wrists and get into the military press position. Complete a military press and slowly return to the starting position.
Exercise 2 – Superset
– Face Pulls – 3 Sets 15-12-10 Reps
– Trap Raises – 3 Sets 15-12-10 Reps
Face pulls work the rear delts and the trapezius muscles. Adjust the cable pulley height to your shoulder level and use a rope attachment. At the contraction point, your hands should be close to your shoulders and you should focus on flexing your shoulder blades.
For the trap raises, lie chest-down on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Retract your traps and raise your arms without bending your elbows so that your arms are parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat with a strict form.
– Dumbbell Shrugs – 3 Sets 20-15-12 Reps
Shrugs are a staple in a traps workout. Although shrugs are one of the easiest exercises to perform, most people screw them up by bringing in their inflated egos and lifting weights which are too heavy for them.
Grab a dumbbell in each hand and place them at the side of your quads. Lift your shoulders with a slight bend in your elbows and try touching your ears with them. Hold and contract your traps at the top of the movement.
– Barbell High Pulls – 3 Sets 15 Reps
Barbell high pulls are a variation of the upright rows. Hold the barbell with an overhand grip right outside the shoulder width mark. You could perform the rack-pull version of this exercise or let the bar hang in front of your quads.
The barbell high pulls are an explosive movement as compared to the upright rows. Perform an explosive upright row to lift the weights as high as you can and get on your toes as the barbell reached the top of the movement. Let gravity do its magic on the way down and don’t try to control the bar.
Exercise 5 – Superset
– Front Smith Machine Shrugs – 3 Sets 20-15-12 Reps
– Behind the Back Smith Machine Shrugs – 3 Sets 20-15-12 Reps
Performing the front shrugs on the smith machine engages the anterior traps, and behind the back, the version engages the posterior traps while the dumbbell shrugs focus on the medial trapezius muscles.
Using the smith machine also adds constant tension to your traps as it is an isolation exercise. You could use a shrugs machine if you have access to it at your gym or use the shoulder press machine if your gym doesn’t have a shrug or smith machine.
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