HomeFitnessThe Best Trap Exercises For Big Bad Trapezius Muscles

The Best Trap Exercises For Big Bad Trapezius Muscles

The Best Trap Exercises

Broad, capped shoulders that resemble cannonballs paired with shredded triceps, bulging biceps and an iron-plated chest are great, but a physique isn't quite complete until you've got some killer traps to go along with it.

Well developed traps seperate a good physique from a great physique.

Well developed traps can be the difference between that gold medal and 2nd place on stage.

Read and implement the best trap exercises I'll share with you below and you'll never have to worry about underdeveloped traps again...

The Barbell Shrug

The shrug, an old school exercise performed to add mass to the traps, creating that highly desired V upper back/neck shape.
When it comes to building big traps there are no secrets, hit your shrugs heavy, often and with solid form and you're on the right track.

Movement: Isolation

Targets: Traps

Required: Barbell

Optional: Straps


Grasping a barbell in front of your body with extended arms and an overhand grip maintain a slight bend in your knees.

Maintaining your straight position proceed to shrug your shoulders up as high as possible (imagine raising your shoulders to your ears).

As you reach the top of the repetition hold and contract for 1 second.

Lower the barbell back down.

See also
How To Build Calves Like Will Sasso

The Dumbbell Shrug

Much like the old school barbell shrug listed above, however I personally find performing shrugs with dumbells allows me to get a slighly better contraction in my traps, making it one of the best trap exercises (as you're able to move the dumbbells around your body to get a slightly better squeeze).

Movement: Isolation

Targets: Traps

Required: Dumbbells

Optional: Straps


Grasping a pair of dumbbell stand straight with palms facing towards your body with a slight bend in your knees.

Maintaining your straight position proceed to shrug your shoulders up as high as possible (imagine raising your shoulders to your ears).

As you reach the top of the repetition hold and contract for 1 second.

Lower the dumbbells back down.

Barbell Rack Pulls

DCF 1.0

“A partial range of motion deadlift… SJ, I thought you always told us to work the entire range of motion?!”

There’s an exception to every rule, and when it comes to powerlifting based training there’s a couple of partial range of motion exercises that CAN be extremely beneficial when performed correctly.

The floor press is one of these, fantastic for breaking through plateaus on your bench press.

The rack pull is the other.

Just in case the name hasn’t given it away yet the rack pull is a deadlift performed from the safety rails of your power rack.

See also
Arm Blaster Benefits: 4 Reasons Why You Should Train Biceps With An Old School Arm Blaster

Instead of pulling the barbell from the floor and locking out at the top of the movement you’re going to be pulling from the safety rails (set at a specified height based on your goals) before locking out at the top of the movement and lowering the barbell back down to the safety rails on your rack.


Begin with your Olympic barbell on the safety rails of your power rack.

Set your safety rails to the desired height of your rack pull (i.e. the sticking point on your deadlift).

Common rack pull levels include: below the knee, above the knee and mid quad.

 Begin as if you were about to perform a regular deadlift – with your feet under your hips, a shoulder width overhand grip, a slight arch in your back while driving your hips back as you get ready to engage your hamstrings.

Continue to look forward as you explode through the hips, knees and heels as you pull the barbell up again you’re able to lock out the weight by pulling your shoulders back.

Lower the barbell back down to the safety rails before proceeding for the desired number of repetitions.

Cable Face Pulls

"SJ, aren't face pulls a back exercise?"


See also
Not Losing Weight? Here's 5 Reasons Why

Face pulls target the rear deltoids and traps.
Not only are they great for building size, but they are also a key exercise for keeping your body running well in general.
Add 3 - 4 sets of face pulls into your workout regime twice a week and reap the benefits.


Place a rope attachment on your cable machine, set it to just above head height.

Grasp the rope with both hands, palms face in.

Take a few steps back until your arms are extended before leaning back slightly and engaging your core (about a 20 degree angle).

Pull the rope slightly towards you and roll your shoulders back, this is where we're going to be beginning each repetition from.

With your palms facing and your elbows flaring out pull your rope attachment, ensuring you're engaging your rear deltoids.

Now return to the starting position by slowly allowing your arms to extend again, do not allow your shoulders to roll forward while doing so.

Repeat for the desired number of repetitions while focusing on you form and a slow, controlled tempo.

Farmer's Carry

Struggling with underdeveloped forearms, traps and poor grip strength?
Farmers Walks are an old school strongman style exercise for building up your grip strength, traps, forearms and mental toughness.

See also
Kettlebell Cardio Workout: Build Killer Cardio Conditioning

Movement: Isolation

Targets: Forearms

Required: Kettlebells (or another pair of implements to carry)

Optional: N/A


Pick up your kettlebells with a solid grip, drive through your heels and maintain a straight back until you're upright.

Walk for a reasonable distance (50 feet) with small, quick steps - focus on your breathing as you walk.

Putting It All Together... The Ultimate Trap Workout

  • The Barbell Shrug - 3 sets - 10 reps per set
  • The Dumbbell Shrug - 3 sets - 10 reps per set
  • Barbell Rack Pulls - 2 sets - 5 reps per set
  • Cable Face Pulls - 3 sets - 10 reps per set
  • Farmer's Carry - 2 walks until failure

Alternatively...(Don't Want A Dedicated Trap Workout?)

Don't want to spend an entire workout training your traps? No worries - simply select 2 or 3 of the exercises listed above and perform them at the end of your workouts two to three times a week.
The traps, just like the forearms and abs are a muscle group we can hammer hard and often, they recover quick so as long as you've got 48 hours between miniature trap workouts you're good to go!

Give These Trap Exercises A Go And Be Sure To Report Back With Results!



Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

Stay in Touch

To follow the best weight loss journeys, success stories and inspirational interviews with the industry's top coaches and specialists. Start changing your life today!

Related Articles