But there’s more to trap training than simply building a set of mountainous traps that will make all heads turn. Direct trap training can play a critical role in preventing shoulder and neck injuries, as well as improving pressing performance. Weak, unresponsive traps will make you more vulnerable to upper body lifting injuries such as shoulder impingement, scapular winging and scapular dyskinesis.
In case you didn’t know, your trapezius muscle isn’t just that meaty area around your neck – it also covers most of your upper back and its most important functions include retracting, depressing, rotating and stabilizing the scapula, all of which are cornerstones of weight training.
Naturally, for a complete warrior physique, you would want to train your traps in an optimal way from both an aesthetic and functional standpoint, and that can be easily achieved with the help of a well-rounded training program that includes these 10 trap blasting exercises.
To develop your traps, you need a steady diet of barbell shrugs, the king of trap exercises that activates the upper portion of your traps, which are crucial for elevating the scapula.
To perform it, grab a barbell with an overhand grip that’s wider than shoulder width apart, then let the bar hang at arm’s length in front of you. Maintaining the back in its natural, slightly arched position, lean around 10 degrees forward at the hips and slightly bend your knees. Shrug your shoulders toward your ears as high as possible, keeping your arms perfectly straight. Pause for a second, then return to the starting position.
#2. Dumbbell Shrug
The great thing about dumbbell shrugs is that they place less stress on your shoulder joints, compared to barbell shrugs which can easily cause joint pain if overused.
Since your shoulders don’t have to rotate to hold the bar, they remain relatively stable all through the movement.
To perform it, grab a pair of dumbbells with the palms of your hands facing each other, and let them hang at arm’s length on your sides. Shrug your shoulders as high as possible. Pause for a second at the top contracted position, then slowly lower the weights back down.
#3. Face Pull
Improving scapular movement and increasing trap strength are the two most important reasons why we recommend face pulls to anyone who’s looking to grow bigger and healthier traps.
Attach a rope to a cable machine. Grab the rope with both hands and pull the weight directly towards your face, separating your hands. Keep your upper arms parallel to the ground and your elbows higher than your wrists throughout the movement. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
#4. Barbell Shrug Behind The Back
This exercise effectively targets multiple muscle groups at once, including the upper traps, middle traps and levator scapulae muscle, and it will help you accelerate your overall back development.
Barbell Shrug Behind The Back
Stand up straight with your feet at shoulder width, holding a barbell with both hands behind your back, using a pronated grip. Your hands should be positioned a bit wider than shoulder width apart, and the knees should be slightly bent. While keeping your arms straight, lift your shoulders up toward your ears as high as you can. Hold the contraction for a second, then slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position. To ensure maximum trap activation, refrain from trying to move the weight by using your biceps and avoid sticking your head forward or downward.