It is very rare to see weight lifters performing proper trapezius exercises (well at least in my gym). I think the biggest problem with weight lifters who do not target the traps properly is simply being uneducated about the muscle and it’s functions. Most of them think that building big traps is 100% about performing different variations of “shrugs”. What they need to realize is that the traps are made up for three regions.
The traps are a large superficial muscle that extend length wise from the occipital bone to the lower thoracic vertebrae and laterally to the spine of the shoulder blades. Their function is to move elevate, depress, and retract the shoulder blades.
Upper - Responsible for shrugging your shoulders (Scapula Elevation)
Middle - Used during rowing movements (Scapula Retraction)
Lower – Used during rowing movements (Scapula Retraction)
In the beginning of this article I mentioned a couple of different functions that the traps are responsible for. Training these functions are easily the best way to isolate the traps and will produce optimal results in terms of trap development. However, I do think it is worth mentioning that the traps do not necessarily have to be isolated in order to hypertrophy them. In fact, most of the back exercises you are doing right now are probably great contributors to trap development.
Some of these back workouts include:
Reverse Machine Flyes
and even vertical pulling movements such as lay pulldowns and pull ups
Benefits of Trapezius Exercises
The traps are often neglected by gym goers mainly because they do not understand the importance of having well developed trapezius muscles. The ones that do perform trapezius exercises usually do so simply to develop the “V” shape on the upper back region. What most people don’t know is that well developed traps help counterweight the chest and front deltoids. This is a huge deal because this will not only reduce injury when performing certain exercises but it will also improve posture.
Trapezius Exercises for Mass
Here are what I feel are the best workouts for each region of the traps. You can add these exercises into your shoulder and/or back workouts. Each of these trapezius exercises should be performed in 3-4 sets with 8-12 sets each.
Upper Traps – Shrugs
Grip a straight bar shoulder width apart with the bar in front of you at arms length. Depress your shoulders down as far as you can. Hold this position for about 1 second and then shrug your shoulders up using only scapula elevation. Make sure you are squeezing the traps at the top. Hold that position for about 1 second and then repeat.
This exercise can also be performed with dumbbells held to your sides at arms length.
Middle Traps – Upright Rows
Grip a straight bar a little closer together than shoulder width. Just like the “shrugs”, hold the bar in front of you at arms length. Make sure you have your feet planted shoulder width apart for this one. Pull the bar straight up until it reaches right under your chin (Your elbows should always be above your hands). keep this position for about 1 second, slowly lower the bar, then repeat.
Lower Traps – Reverse Dumbbell Flyes
Grab two dumbbells (start off light till you find the proper weight) and bend over at the waist with your feet shoulder width apart. keep your knees slightly bent while holding the dumbbells at arms length in front of you. Make sure your palms are facing eachother and your elbows are slightly bent. Slowly raise the dumbbells to your back. Hold this position for a second and then slowly lower the dumbbells to starting position and repeat.
Although the exercises mentioned above are great, if you really want to isolate the traps without involving any secondary muscle groups, try this traps workout.
Getting Massive Traps
If you want to enhance your physique, reduce the risk of injury on the bench press, and improve your posture, trap workouts are definitely the way to go. Following these 3 simple workouts during your back and/or shoulder routines will help you achieve all the great things I just mentioned. The ultimate tactic to reaching your goals here is making sure you are targeting every region of the trap muscles and training them with the appropriate functions.
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