Top 5 Exercises To Build Bigger Trap Muscles

Big beefy arms look awfully silly when paired with teeny tiny traps. For this reason, every guy (and gal) who works to build strength in the arms must also work the trapezius muscle to get even, strong musculature everywhere.

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But what are your traps, and why are they important?

Your trapezius or “traps” muscles help strengthen the connection between your head, shoulders, and neck. It’s important to work your traps when building arm strength, since you need a strong neck and shoulders to support bigger arms. In order for everything to work together in harmony as it should, you need to make sure that your traps have also been worked in isolation. This will help strengthen the neck, build huge shoulders, and avoid injury later as more weight is added.

Here are the best exercises for traps or trapezius muscles training.

1. Dumbbell Shrugs

Dumbbell shrugs are perhaps the most effective exercise in isolating the traps, and they make for a great warm-up moves. This exercise works to engage and isolate the trapezius muscles to build strength with weights. Grab your dumbbells and get ready for a heavy set of shrugs.

  • Start by standing tall with feet shoulder width apart
  • Hold the dumbbells in either hand and bend slightly in the knees
  • Engage the traps by squeezing your shoulders with a shrug
  • Try not to use your biceps or triceps, finish 50 reps for three sets
  • Complete the shrug at the top of the motion by squeezing traps

After your traps have been isolated and warmed up with shrugs, move on to upright row.s

2. Upright Rows With Dumbbells

Use the dumbbells to isolate the shoulder muscles with some upright rows.

  • Start with your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent
  • Hold the dumbbells in either hand at shoulder width (palms facing down)
  • Try to isolate the shoulders and traps as you bring the weights up to your chest
  • Bend at the elbows, squeeze vertically, and hold at the top
  • Continue together for three sets of 10 reps (or according to weight)

Now that your muscles are engaged, continue onto lateral raises with dumbbells.

3. Wide Lateral Raises

Continue with dumbbells in each hand to go through a series of lateral raises. These lateral raises are done wide so that you can better engage the traps through isolation of the shoulders. Pick out the weight in dumbbells and proceed with the motions.

  • Start by standing tall with feet shoulder width apart (knees slightly bent)
  • Hold your dumbbells with palms facing the floor, resting
  • Keep your arms extended as you raise them to above chest level
  • Isolate the shoulders to work the traps as a secondary muscle
  • Complete three sets of eight reps before finished

After finishing with dumbbells, continue by making use of a low cable for face pulls.

4. Face Pulls

Now that the trap muscles are good and warm, move on to face pulls to engage the shoulders and traps. Head to a cable machine to begin.

  • Start with your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent
  • Make sure you are standing so that your arms are fully extended
  • Grab the cable in both hands, bend in the knees, and pull to your face
  • As you pull toward your face, keep the elbows higher than the wrist
  • At the top of the motion pinch the shoulder blades and release easy
  • Repeat for three sets of eight to 10 reps

Tip: another way to accomplish this same exercise using only a band is by taking a seat and attaching it to the heels. Instead of pulling upward on the cable, pull the band to engage the shoulders and traps.

After you accomplish face pulls, end the routine by taking a sumo stance.

5. Kettlebell Sumo High Pull

If you have a kettlebell, grab it and prepare for a challenge. The kettlebell sumo high pull is not exactly for beginners, so make sure you’ve mastered how to use a kettlebell before you begin.

  • Pick up the kettle bell and assume the sumo stance
  • Make sure your chest is tall and chin/gaze facing forward
  • Sumo deep enough that both hands are extended on the kettlebell resting on the floor
  • Pulling from the shoulders bring the kettlebell to high pull position (chest level)
  • Complete with three to five sets of up to eight reps

If you made it through this long list of trapezius training exercises, congrats — you did it! Building big traps is something every body builder dreams about, and with these five exercises, you should get there in no time.  Just remember: high weights, low reps, and lots of muscle ripping. That’s how you get big.