Best Lower & Upper Trap Exercises To Follow

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Trap exercises are those physical activities that target your trapezius muscle. It stretches from the back of your neck to the middle of your back and is linked to the shoulders. It can also help in stabilizing your upper back and shoulder muscles. We have a selection of trap exercises with the best routines you can follow to build your lower and upper traps.

What Are Trap Exercises? 

Trap or trapezius exercises consist of weighted and body-weight workouts that build your trapezius muscle. The trapezius muscles, or traps, are one of the widest back muscles. They cover your upper back, shoulders, and neck. The trap muscle is made up of three parts—the upper, middle-lower and trapezius. This is the muscle responsible for pulling your shoulders up and back, and stabilizing the shoulder blades, as explained in this article from Clinical Biomechanics. There are many trap workouts you can do to strengthen and build this muscle to establish good posture and prevent various types of back pain

Back view of a man in shorts doing pull-ups in a gym.

Trap exercises can help build the muscles in your back. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Best Trap Exercises 

Shrugs

This is a straightforward workout that can be done with or without weights.

  1. Stand with your feet flat, hip-width apart. 
  2. Drop your arms to your sides with hands facing inward.
  3. Keep your chin up and your neck straight.
  4. Bring your shoulders high up towards your ears. 
  5. Lower your back. 

Barbell Deadlift

This lift engages your entire back, as well as your hamstrings.

  1. With an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart, grab the barbell.
  2. Pull your torso up and thrust your hips forward to stand.
  3. Lower back to the floor. 

Pushups

Pushups are a great bodyweight exercise. 

  1. Get down on all fours, wrists directly under shoulders, feet hip-width apart.
  2. With a flat back, straighten your arms and legs. Rotate the insides of your elbows to face each other. 
  3. Slowly lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Be mindful of keeping your back straight as you lower.
  4. Push up. 

Lower Trap Exercises 

Lat Pulldown

This seated lat and trap workout requires a weight machine.

  1. Reach overhead to grab the bar with your hands, slightly wider than shoulder-width. 
  2. With your elbows pointed straight down, pull the bar just below your chin.
  3. Bring the bar back up, keeping your torso still.

Prone Flexion

This trap workout can be done without weights.

  1. Lie face-down on a weight bench, with your left arm dropped down to the ground.
  2. Keep your arm straight and raise it overhead, hand facing in.
  3. Lower your arm back to starting position.

I-Y-T Exercise

This is a variation of the prone flexion exercise.

  1. Lie face-down on a weight bench, with both arms straight down toward the ground.
  2. Extend both arms overhead, in line with your body.
  3. Move both arms out to a 45-degree angle, forming a Y shape.
  4. Move arms straight out to the sides, perpendicular to your body.
  5. Bring arms down to the ground and begin again. 

Upper Trap Exercises 

Overhead Barbell Shrug

  1. With an overhand grip, hands wide, lift the barbell overhead.
  2. Keeping your arms straight, shrug your shoulders up towards your ear.
  3. Lower shoulders down slowly with the barbell still overhead. 

Barbell Row

  1. Grab the barbell with an overhand grip, a little wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Bend at the hips and knees so your torso is parallel with the floor.
  3. Pull the bar straight up to your torso and squeeze your shoulder blades.
  4. Return to the starting position.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

  1. With a pair of dumbbells, stand with your feet flat, hip-width apart.
  2. Bend your elbows slightly, and raise your arms straight out, parallel with the floor at shoulder level.
  3. Slowly lower back down.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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