The Trapezius muscles, or Traps, often play a minor part in a workout program. In this article, I will be explaining the Traps, why they are important for daily activities, why you should make them a major part of your overall workout, and the 3 best exercises to grow your traps!
Disclaimer – Although I am a Certified Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. This article is for informational and educational purposes only and does not establish any kind of personal trainer-client relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any damages or injuries resulting from or related to your use of this information. You should consult a physician, a nutritionist, or a registered dietician prior to starting any workout or nutrition program.
Your are lacking girth or muscle in your upper mid back area or you have rounded shoulders
What is a Trapezius Muscle, and what is it’s function?
“The trapezius is a large paired surface muscle that extends longitudinally from the occipital bone to the lower thoracic vertebrae of the spine and laterally to the spine of the scapula. It moves the scapula and supports the arm.
The trapezius has three functional parts:
- An upper (descending) part which supports the weight of the arm
- A middle region (transverse), which retracts the scapula
- A lower (ascending) part which medially rotates and depresses the scapula.” Wikipedia
See the illustration below:
Follow The Fiber!
If you have read any of my other articles, you will notice that I constantly remind you to follow the muscle fibers. There is an origin and an insertion point of the Trapezius and it is vital that you understand and remember this when working out your muscle.
Once you have identified the origin and insertion point, you will bring those two points together when working out. This will ensure that you will get a full workout of the muscle fiber. Notice in the illustration below how the muscle fibers run in different directions from the Insertion point all along the spine to the origin.
Warm-up your Trapezius muscles
Warming up your muscles is essential to having a great workout. If you do not warm up your Trapezius muscles prior to applying resistance training, your muscles are more susceptible to muscle strains and pulls.
In addition, your “endurance will be compromised.” 1 Cramp and muscle fatigue can occur because you will experience a buildup of lactic acid more rapidly.
So, I usually advise my clients to get on the treadmill for 15 minutes. If you do not have a treadmill, do several sets of jumping jacks or high steps. This will help to get your heart rate up, which delivers more oxygen to the muscles and organs, and it opens up capillaries for additional blood flow.
Remember, stretching and warming up are two different things. Stretching refers to stretching the Trapezius muscles to prevent muscle strains and pulls, and warming-up refers to raising the temperature of the body.
Now, on to the exercises!
Exercises to grow your Traps
The Barbell Shrug
Choose your desired weight and place it on a barbell. If you are new to bodybuilding, don’t put on a lot of heavy weight. I need you to understand the motion of the exercise and how to follow the fibers
Place your feet under the barbell, squat down at your knees, and grab the barbell with your palms facing towards you. Position your hands just outside your knees.
Push through your heels, extend your knees and hips, and stand up. Keep your upper body erect and chest high. Make sure you keep your abdominals tight. You want to isolate your traps muscles as much as you can.
At this point, most people will tell you to bring your shoulders towards your ears. But, there is more to it than that. Look again at the way the fibers run on the trap muscles. Not only should you bring your shoulders up, but you are bringing them back as well. Squeeze those muscle fibers together. The illustration below shows how you need to perform the exercise.
Choose your desired weight dumbbells and place the at your sides.
While standing erect, keep your abdominals tights. Keep a slight bend in your knees.
Pull the shoulders towards your ears. Like I said in the barbell shrug, you want to bring the dumbbells up and back. You want to follow the fibers. This is the only way you will maximize the growth of the muscle. Check out the illustration below; it shows the beginning and the end.
Remember to FOLLOW THE FIBERS!
Bent Over Reverse Flys – Focus on Traps
Choose some mid to light dumbbells and put the weights to your sides
Bend over at the waist, keep your back straight. The weights should now be out in front of you. Look at the illustration below.
Pull the weights up to a horizontal position. I know, you may be thinking to yourself that this exercise is meant for your rear delts. Now, what I need you to do is focus on the mid traps. When you bring the weight up, focus on bringing the mid trap fibers towards your spine.
The Traps should be part of any workout that you do! I am a personal trainer, and I have created programs for many years. The Traps are an important muscle for posture and back strength. If you are a beginner, use light weights at 3 sets of 8 reps. Before you focus on heavyweights, you need to really maximize and stretch your muscles before working out. You can check out my website at Fitmanfitness.com.