Best Exercises For Traps: Build Impressive Muscles

Have you been struggling to develop those strong and defined trapezius muscles? Despite putting in the effort at the gym, are you not seeing the results you desire? The problem may lie in your exercise routine.

The trapezius muscles, or traps, are an essential part of your upper body strength and posture. They not only enhance your overall physique, but also play a crucial role in stabilizing your shoulders and neck. However, finding the right exercises to target and effectively build these muscles can be a challenge for many fitness enthusiasts.

If you’re looking to enhance your traps and achieve that impressive, well-defined look, it’s crucial to incorporate the best exercises into your workout routine. Neglecting or performing incorrect exercises can lead to limited progress and wasted time.

To help you make the most out of your gym sessions, we have compiled a list of the absolute best exercises for bigger traps. Incorporating these exercises into your routine will help you develop strong, sculpted traps that will turn heads at the gym.

Anatomy Of The Trapezius Muscles

The trapezius muscles are large triangular muscles located on the upper back and neck. They are divided into three regions: the upper traps, middle traps, and lower traps. Understanding their anatomy will help you target them effectively during workouts.

The traps are involved in various movements, such as shoulder elevation, retraction, and rotation. Strong traps contribute to proper posture, shoulder stability, and injury prevention during activities like weightlifting, sports, and even everyday tasks.

Best Exercises for Traps

Essential Tips For Effective Trap Training

Before diving into your trap workout, it’s crucial to warm up the muscles and perform some dynamic stretches. This helps increase blood flow and flexibility, reducing the risk of injury.

  • Maintaining proper form and technique during trap exercises is paramount to prevent strain on the muscles and joints. It’s essential to understand the correct movement patterns and execute them with control.
  • Like any muscle group, the traps need progressive overload to grow and strengthen. Gradually increase the intensity of your workouts by adding weight, increasing repetitions, or using advanced variations to continue challenging the muscles.
  • Allowing sufficient rest and recovery is crucial for muscle growth and overall performance. Adequate sleep, proper nutrition, and scheduling rest days in your training program will ensure optimal trap development.

Best Exercises For Lower Traps

Barbell Shrugs

Barbell shrugs target the upper traps effectively. To perform barbell shrugs, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell in front of your thighs with an overhand grip. Keeping your arms straight, elevate your shoulders as high as possible, hold for a moment, and then slowly lower the weight back down. Focus on squeezing your traps at the top of the movement for maximum activation.

Barbell shrugs can be performed using different grips, such as the wide grip or snatch grip, to target the traps from different angles. Additionally, using dumbbells or a trap bar offers alternative options.

Ensure a full range of motion, avoid using momentum, and focus on the contraction of the traps at the top of the movement. Consider incorporating pauses or tempo variations to increase time under tension and maximize muscle engagement.

Dumbbell Shrugs

Similar to barbell shrugs, dumbbell shrugs target the traps but allow for a greater range of motion and individual control. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip. Keep your arms straight and raise your shoulders up towards your ears. Hold the contraction for a second and then lower the dumbbells back down. Dumbbell shrugs are particularly effective for isolating and strengthening the traps.

Dumbbell shrugs allow for a greater range of motion compared to barbell shrugs. They also improve grip strength and activate stabilizer muscles, contributing to overall shoulder development. If dumbbells are not available, you can use kettlebells, resistance bands, or even a loaded backpack to perform shrugging movements.

Upright Rows

Upright rows are a compound exercise that targets not only the traps but also the deltoids and upper back muscles. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell or dumbbells in front of your thighs with an overhand grip. Pull the weight straight up towards your chin, leading with your elbows. Keep the weights close to your body and focus on contracting your traps at the top of the movement. Avoid excessive shoulder elevation or using momentum.

Upright rows primarily target the middle traps and lateral deltoids. They also engage the biceps and upper back muscles, contributing to overall upper-body strength and stability.

Individuals with shoulder impingement issues should exercise caution or consider alternative exercises. Using an EZ-curl bar or performing upright rows with dumbbells can be less stressful on the shoulders.

Farmer’s Walk

While primarily considered a grip and core exercise, the farmer’s walk is also an excellent way to engage the traps. Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells or kettlebells and walk for a designated distance or time. The weight carried puts a significant demand on your traps as they stabilize your shoulders and upper back. Make sure to maintain an upright posture throughout the exercise, and focus on squeezing your traps to maximize the benefits.

Farmer’s walks can be performed with various equipment, including dumbbells, kettlebells, or even loaded farmer’s walk handles. Adjust the weight according to your fitness level and gradually increase it as you progress. In addition to developing strong traps, farmers’ walks improve grip strength, core stability, and overall muscular endurance.

Best Exercises for Traps

Face Pulls

Face pulls are an excellent exercise for targeting the rear delts, rhomboids, and traps. Attach a rope or band to a cable machine at chest height. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, grab the rope with a neutral grip, and step back to create tension. Pull the rope towards your face, leading with your elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Focus on engaging your traps and maintaining good posture throughout the movement.

Face pulls target the rear delts and upper traps, helping to counterbalance the effects of forward-rounded shoulders and poor posture. They also strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, promoting shoulder stability.

You can perform face pulls using resistance bands or TRX straps if a cable machine is not available. Adjusting the height of the attachment point or using different grips can provide variations in muscle activation.

Supplementary Exercises For A Complete Trap Workout

If you’re looking to bring serious definition and strength to your traps, then you need to incorporate supplementary exercises into your trap workouts.

While exercises like shrugs are great for targeting the traps, adding in additional exercises can help to fully work the muscles and achieve your desired results. Here are some supplementary exercises for a complete trap workout.

Dumbbell High Pulls

Dumbbell high pulls are an excellent exercise for targeting the traps and also engaging the deltoids and back muscles. To perform this exercise, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.

Then, bend your knees slightly and lean forward with your back straight. Pull the dumbbells up towards your shoulders, leading with your elbows, and then lower them back down. Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

Cable Pull-Downs

Cable pull-downs are another effective exercise for working the traps. Start by attaching a straight bar or rope handle to a high cable pulley. Stand facing the machine, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.

Grasp the handle with an overhand grip and pull it down towards your thighs, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do so. Slowly release the tension and repeat for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

Wide Grip Pull-Ups

Wide grip pull-ups are a compound exercise that targets the lats, shoulders, and traps. Find a pull-up bar and grasp it with an overhand grip, wider than shoulder-width apart. Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended and then pull your body up until your chin clears the bar. Lower your body back down with control and repeat for 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

Reverse Flyes

Reverse flyes primarily target the rear deltoids, but they also engage the traps. Start by standing with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing inwards. Slightly bend your knees and lean forward with your back straight. Lift your arms out to the sides, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do so. Slowly lower the dumbbells back down and repeat for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

Overhead Press

The overhead press is an excellent compound exercise that not only works the shoulders but also engages the traps. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell or barbell at shoulder height. Press the weight overhead, extending your arms fully. Lower the weight back down to shoulder height and repeat for 3 sets of 8-12 reps.

Best Exercises for Traps


Building the traps muscles is a great way to improve your posture and make your body look amazing. All of the exercises recommended in this article can help you reach the goal of having toned and strong traps. Proper form and guidelines should be followed for each exercise to ensure good posture and to reduce any risk of injury.

Additionally, you can adapt the exercises listed here to tailor it to your own strength level or fitness goals. Start out small with lighter weights and build momentum as the muscles build up over time. No matter what approach you take toward getting toned traps, it’s important to be persistent and consistent with your routine if you want to see results.

With practice and dedication, anyone can achieve beautifully toned traps within time!

4.5/5 - (6 votes)


Robert Carter
Robert Carter
Robert is a passionate sports fan and writer who covers the latest news and events in the world of sports. He has been a regular contributor to, where he shares his insights and analysis on the latest developments in the world of sports.

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