TOP 6 best trapeze exercises

Shrugs behind the back in Smith

The shoulder girdle visually looks incomplete if the trapezius muscles are not sufficiently developed. In some athletes, even from a small load, the trapezoid grows in proportion to the shoulders and back muscles (this option is found in most cases). For others, the picture is completely different – even heavy specialized training gives a very modest result. In this article, we will figure out how to properly train this muscle group and which trapezius exercises are the most effective.

Anatomy of the trapezius muscles

The trapezium is located in the upper back and adjoins the muscles of the neck from above. Visually, it can be divided into three parts:

  1. Upper – adjacent to the neck, is responsible for lifting the shoulders up.
  2. The middle one – between the shoulder blades, participates in the lifting of the shoulder blades.
  3. The lower one – in the lower part of the shoulder blades, is responsible for the lowering of the shoulder bones in the lower phase of the movement.

The main functions of the trapezium are: shoulder movement in the vertical and horizontal plane, head tilt back, as well as lifting the shoulder blades up.

Keeping the trapezoid in good shape is necessary for any athlete. This will increase your strength performance in basic exercises, reduce the stress on the shoulder joints and ligaments, reduce the curvature of the spine in the cervical spine and minimize the risk of injury and injury to the entire shoulder girdle.

Trapeze training tips

  • Shrugs are considered to be the best exercise for developing the trapezoid, but many athletes do them wrong. You can not include biceps and forearms in the work. Carpal straps help to cope with this very well. The elbows should be almost fully extended throughout the entire approach, then the load will fall purposefully on the trapezoid.
  • Do not use too much working weight. When training the trapezius muscles, it is much more important to work at full amplitude and feel the maximum muscle contraction at the top point, lingering there for 1-2 seconds.
  • Do not press your chin to your chest when performing shrugs. This increases the compression of the cervical spine and can lead to injury.
  • Trapeze loves pumping. To properly “clog” these muscles with blood, use supersets, combining shrugs of any variation with traction movements that also include the shoulders, for example, with a chin pull with a narrow grip. Another option for increasing intensity is to do dropsets at the end of each set: reduce your working weight and do another set or two with a lighter weight without rest.
  • Traps are a relatively small muscle group; it is enough to train it once a week. Optimally combine it with back or shoulder workouts. To keep your entire shoulder girdle looking massive, do not forget to pay enough attention to your delts and neck muscles as well. If you notice that the trapeziums began to overtake the shoulders in development, which visually makes the figure less wide in the shoulder girdle, just stop performing individual exercises for this muscle group.
  • Trapeze workouts should be short but intense. As a rule, one or two exercises are enough to work out this muscle group. Alternate between different movements in each workout and perform them in a different order, then you will make progress faster.
  • Watch your posture. Often, stoop in the cervical and thoracic spine does not allow full trapeze training. The athlete simply cannot perform the desired movement in full amplitude and feel the muscle contraction.
  • Train in moderation. Overtraining the trapezius muscles will lead to poor blood circulation in the muscles of the neck and the entire cervical spine. This is fraught with increased intracranial pressure, headaches and dizziness.
  • Shrugs do not involve rotation of the shoulder joints at the top point. For some reason, many novice athletes are guilty of this. When using a lot of working weight, this rotation turns into one of the most damaging movements for the rotator cuff of your shoulder. The correct trajectory of movement implies the lifting and lowering of the weight in the same plane, there should be no extraneous movements.

The best trapeze exercises

Now let’s look at the exercises that will help you maximize your trapezius muscle workout.

Barbell Shrug

Barbell Shrugs are the main trapeze mass exercise. Their upper part works mainly here, since when lifting the bar is in front of you. The movement should be amplitude, as if at the top point you are trying to reach your ears with your shoulders. In this movement, you can work with a fairly large weight, so you can better feel the stretch of the muscles at the bottom point. Use wrist straps and an athletic belt if necessary.

Use a medium grip shoulder-width apart to keep your shoulders out of the work. When lifting, keep the bar as close to the body as possible and minimize cheating – this method will not lead to anything other than increasing the risk of injury. An alternative option is the shrugs in Smith.


Dumbbell Shrugs

Dumbbell Shrugs are an upper trapeze exercise. It is recommended to use less weight here, but do more reps, so you can more easily achieve intense pumping (muscle blood circulation).

Since in this exercise the hands are turned parallel to each other, the forearms are actively involved in the work. Therefore, concentrate on keeping your arms straight and not bending your elbows. Then you will lift the dumbbells with the effort of the trapezoid, not the hands. You can also use shoulder straps.

To turn dumbbell shrugs into a mid and lower trapezoid exercise, sit on a bench and lean forward slightly:

Dumbbell Shrugs on an Incline Bench
This will change the load vector, and you will bring the shoulder blades closer together at the top point. Due to this, most of the load will go to the middle and lower parts of the trapezius muscles.

Shrugs in the simulator

For this exercise you will need a bottom block and a wide stick. Keeping your back straight, pull your shoulders up and back a little. The biomechanics of movement differs from movements in classic barbell shrugs. By pulling your shoulders back, you load the middle part of the trapezium and the posterior bundles of the deltoid muscles more. Because of this, the back of the upper back will look more massive and bumpy. In addition, the structure of the block trainer predetermines a stronger stretching of the muscles at the lowest point, which only increases the efficiency of this exercise.

Shrugs in the lower block

Shrugs with a barbell behind the back

This is a great exercise for the middle and lower traps. It is not entirely suitable for beginners, as it requires a well-developed muscle frame and good shoulder stretching.

For convenience, this exercise is recommended to be performed in the Smith machine. At the bottom point, slightly relax all the muscles of the shoulder girdle to lower the bar as low as possible. But do not forget to keep the lumbar spine perfectly straight. The closer to your back you lead the bar when lifting, the harder the traps will work. A more distant position will put more stress on the rear deltas.


Narrow Grip Barbell Row

The barbell row to the chin is a basic exercise in which both traps and shoulders work. In this exercise, it is important to take a narrow enough position and keep the elbow above the level of the hand, then you can work at full amplitude and load the entire area of ​​the trapezius muscles. The wider you go, the more the load goes to the middle deltas.

Narrow grip broach
Alternative exercises: Row in Smith to the chin with a narrow grip, Row of two dumbbells to the chin with a narrow grip, Row of weights to the chin.