Top Trap Exercises

Top Trap Exercises

Your trapezius muscles (commonly referred to as traps) are located at the back of your neck, over your upper shoulders and runs down from your upper back to your mid back. They are in the shape of a triangle and can make you look you have two muscular mountains sitting atop of your shoulders. Your traps are not just for looking large and in charge though. Athletes can benefit from having a strong set of traps. Your traps can help to prevent you from getting injured as they have the ability to absorb any blows to the shoulder area. They also play a part in keeping the neck secure during contact. Reducing the likelihood of concussions and neck injuries.


Barbell Shrugs

Barbell shrugs are considered the king of trap exercises. You look pretty bad ass when you do them because you can use a lot of weight when you do them. This is due to the fact that the traps are a strong muscle, and the range of motion on the rep is not very big. Barbell shrugs target the upper portion of your traps, which will help you to build them nice and tall. They are performed as such:

  1. Grab the barbell a little bit wider than shoulder width apart using a hook grip (one overhand, one underhand). The hook grip will allow you to support more weight just be sure to alternate hand positions so that both arms are worked evenly.
  2. Allow your arms to hang at arm’s length in front of your hips.
  3. Looking forward with your arms remaining straight for the entire rep, shrug your shoulders to your ears as high as you can.
  4. Pause briefly at the top and slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.

This exercise can also effectively be done with dumbbells. With the dumbbells at your sides and your arms extended shrug your shoulders to your ears. Pause briefly at the top and slowly release and lower your shoulders to the starting position.


Behind-the Back Barbell Shrugs

This exercise hits your upper and middle traps as well as your levator scapulae (the thin flat muscle located just below the upper part of the trap).

  1. Similar to barbell shrugs but with the bar behind you.
  2. Standing with the bar behind you, grab the bar at slightly wider than shoulder width apart using a hook grip.
  3. Allow your arms to hang fully extended with the bar at your glutes.
  4. Looking forward with your arms remaining straight for the entire rep, shrug your shoulders to your ears as high as you can.
  5. Pause briefly at the top and slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.


Cable Face Pulls

Unfortunately for your ego unlike the shrug, this exercise will not require as much weight. This exercise works the traps, rotator cuffs and your rear delts. They are a great exercise as they help to improve your posture.

  1. Using a rope and a cable machine adjust the cable so that it is at neck level. Be sure to take a step back from the cable when you are performing the exercise.
  2. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and your arms straight out.
  3. Pull the weight to your face, separating your hands as you perform the rep. Your upper arms should be parallel to the ground as you do so.
  4. Pause when your hands are beside your face and release the weight slowly back to the starting position.


Barbell Overhead Shrugs

Any exercise that involves you holding the weight above your head will work your upper traps. The weight you use for this exercise should be about equivalent to that of which you can military press about 10 times.

  1. Grab the bar with an overhand grip at shoulder width apart.
  2. Fully extend your arms over your head with the barbell in hand.
  3. Bring your shoulders down to stretch your traps with your arms remaining locked overhead.
  4. Bring your shoulders back up by contracting your traps. Squeeze and hold this position for a second or two. Be sure to keep a tight posture and trunk to avoid any injuries.


Farmers Walk

As I have mentioned before farmers walk is a great exercise that will not only get your traps burning but will also work the rest of your body too. This exercise requires dumbbells and a lot of space so make sure to be in an open area with no obstacles when you are performing it.

  1. Grab the dumbbells by your side standing straight up.
  2. Shrug your shoulders to your ears and hold it.
  3. With your shoulders remaining in the shrug position, walk with the weight until you are no longer able to hold the weight up anymore.

Note be sure that the weight you are using is heavy enough so that you do not have to walk an incredibly long distance. Walking for about 70 feet with the weight is an appropriate distance.


Calf Machine Shoulder Shrugs

Although the name of the machine being used may suggest otherwise, with some creativity the calf machine can work your traps.

  1. Set yourself up under the calf machine as you would normally with your shoulders under the shoulder pads.
  2. Shrug your shoulders up to your ears and hold it.
  3. Return back to the starting position slowly.