10 Trap Exercises You Should Start Performing
When you imagine your ideal physique, what parts of your body do you see? Do you envision a shredded six-pack? Do you want arms that stretch your shirt?
Mine is a massive set of traps and shoulders.
You see, having a huge set of traps just demands dominance, power, and masculinity. When it comes to building them, there are a few things you need to take into consideration.
If you want to build a functional body with big traps, you’re going to need to include movements in your routine such as loaded carries, upper back exercises, overhead movements, and of course rows and deadlifts.
Related - Bigger Traps With These 8 Exercises
Along with that, your posture and spinal alignment needs to be perfect, and you have to have proper scapular positioning to target these muscles efficiently.
Just like any other muscle, you’ll need to properly overload the muscles and train them at a certain level of intensity.
So if I haven’t scared you off yet and you really want to build some bigger traps, here are 10 exercises you need to start performing.
10 Traps Exercises
#1 - Deadlifts
I don’t have massive traps, but for someone who hasn’t been in a gym consistently for a while, I still have decent traps.
Heavy deadlifts train your entire body, but your posterior chain and back really get worked.
If they aren’t already, adding deadlifts into your current routine will start upping your gains and building a great strength base.
Try performing deadlifts with a wider grip — this will create more tension on your upper back and traps.
When you are using a lighter weight, you could add in a shrug every rep for that extra bit of contraction.
#2 - Dumbbell Farmer’s Walks
Loaded carries are a great way to improve core strength, improve your grip strength, and will force your traps to grow.
Grab a couple of dumbbells and walk for 50-100 yards, or as far as you have room for. The amount of carries you can perform makes this a potent mass builder for traps.
This exercise is actually best for strengthening the muscles around your spine, so there are more benefits than just huge traps.
Want to up your core training? Carry just one dumbbell for an uneven load. An uneven load will force your core to keep your body erect. As we walk, our stabilizer muscles work and get stronger.
Keep a tall posture and walk with a fluid motion. It will feel different than a regular walking pace, but with some practice, you can get it.
#3 - Barbell Shrugs
Barbell shrugs are an obvious choice for building big traps.
Load the bar up and perform quality reps. Simply loading the bar as heavy as you can lift and attempting to shrug won’t cut it — you will need a full range of motion and quality contractions.
Play with tempo and pause reps to get a good squeeze. If you’ve got it in you, pause the contraction for one second every rep.
#4 - Barbell Farmer’s Walks
If you thought farmer’s walks with dumbbells were fun, just wait until you read about these.
Grab a couple of barbells and load them up equally. Pick a barbell up in each hand and perform walks.
Many gyms don’t have dumbbells that go much past 80 or 100 pounds, so this is the workaround for that.
You’re going to have a hard time finding the center of the bar, and you’re going to feel the bar moving a lot more than you’d like… but with a little bit of practice, you’ll learn how to perform this properly.
You’re getting into strongman training with this exercise.
#5 - Hex Bar Deadlifts
Using a hex bar or trap bar for deadlifts can help you build a nice set of traps.
Since you are standing in the middle of the weight, the lift will feel more like a squat, but you will be holding the weight instead of resting it on your back.
This removes the strain on your lower back and spine from having the bar out in front of you. You’ll be able to complete a wider range of motion, you’ll be able to use more weight, and you’ll have high levels of tension placed on your upper back and traps.
#6 - Face Pulls
I personally love face pulls.
#7 - Rack Pulls
Rack pulls are basically a deadlift with the bar higher than on the floor.
Get into a power rack and set the catches around your knee level. This is going to be where the weight will start.
Since there is a shorter range of motion, you’ll be able to safely lift a little bit more weight than you can on a deadlift. This can help overload your traps and push you to the next level.
#8 - Bent-Over Lateral Raises
If you’re looking for a solid exercise you can do a few times per week, bent-over lateral raises may be the answer.
An exercise I like to perform at the end of my workouts, bent-over lateral raises hammer your upper back, traps, and rear delts.
Grab some very light weights — I generally use a five or ten-pound dumbbell max and perform 12 to 15+ reps per set.
Take your time with this exercise, feel the stretch, and get a solid contraction on your muscles. You will feel like your back is on fire… and that’s what we want.
#9 - Squats
Squats elicit such a huge growth response in our bodies. The sheer amount of muscles recruited for a squat makes squats a great all-around exercise.
While squats are dominantly training your posterior chain, many people are unaware of how squats can build a well-rounded physique.
Start light with squats and learn how to perform the exercise properly. I managed to squat 405 for five reps before my bad lifting habits forced me to relearn squats.
Once I broke the bad habits, I was able to squat 500-550. It all takes time and patience — if there’s one thing I can tell you, it would be to learn form over adding weight.
#10 - Rows, Pull-ups, Chin-ups, and Pulldowns
If you didn’t know, any row or pulling motion recruits your upper back and traps too. Any row, pull-up, chin-up, or pulldown will train your traps.
Be sure to train your back with the same level of intensity as you do the rest of your body. Having a strong back reduces the risk of injury and demands respect wherever you walk.