Training traps

Trap exercises bodybuilding – top exercises for building big traps

I can’t think of many other muscles that get the exposure that traps do aside from arms. Arms are always a very noticeable muscle that gets plenty of exposure and draws a lot of attention, but one other muscle group that gets just as much exposure is traps.

Traps are among one of the unique muscle groups that show a sign of strength and with a well-developed neck, they can also bolster a good sign of power in many areas of sports. Today I will be talking about trap exercises for bodybuilding and top exercises for building big traps.

Many of today’s top trainers have big traps and many aspiring weight trainers are looking to learn what is the best way that they can develop their own traps to be large and powerful looking.

There are various different exercises that all do a good job when it comes to building large and powerful traps, but today we are going to be looking at not only a few of the best exercises, but also other tips and tricks that you can use to develop a large set of traps of your own.

Top exercises

There are not a lot of exercises that you can use to develop your trap muscles, although the best ones are shrugs, whether you are doing barbell shrugs in front of you or in back of you, or you are performing shrugs with the dumbbells, any version of shrugging will always give you desirable results.

It is also a good idea to include upright rows. Upright rows can be performed with a narrow grip and a shoulder width grip, the shoulder width grip will be more directed toward your shoulders, the version you will want to include in your trap training is the narrow grip.

The narrow grip is directed more toward your trapezius muscles and is good to perform shrugs and upright rows together in the same workout for a more rounded workout targeting your trap muscles from different angles giving your traps a better muscle stimulation.

Barbell shrugs

Barbell shrugs you can perform with the bar in front of you or you can alternate your workouts by doing them with the bar in back of you, both are good variations but you will be more than likely to pull more weight when holding the bar in front of you.

Generally you will keep your palms facing in back of you when performing the barbell shrugs, when the weight gets to be a heavier load that you are pulling, you can try an alternate grip where one palm is facing to the back and the other palm to the front, this will enhance your gripping strength.

Another couple alternatives is to use wrist straps or chalk your hands for a better grip, which ever way, your general aim is to progressively pull more weight, as you continue to increase your strength in the shrugs, your traps don’t have any choice but to grow.

When performing the barbell shrugs, you will keep your shoulders low at the first stage of the rep and when raising your shoulders, rotate your shoulders in a circular motion from front to back and then down. Always maintain a steady look forward as you are performing the barbell shrugs.

Becoming distracted and looking from side to side as you are performing this exercise can greatly increase your chances of pulling a muscle in your neck or doing some kind of serious damage to your neck and/or traps, this exercise there is a necessity to perform good training form.

Muscles worked

The primary muscles worked are the traps and rhomboids.


The shrug also activates secondary muscles including the biceps, flexors, serratus anterior and the three muscles of the abs: rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis and obliques.

Dumbbell shrugs

Dumbbell shrugs are another great variation in the shrug family that you can adapt in your training program, the advantage with dumbbell shrugs is you can get a fuller range of motion and you can rotate your wrists during the exercise to reach your traps at different angles.

One slight disadvantage with doing dumbbell shrugs as compared to barbell shrugs is you are giving up a weight advantage with dumbbells. When you perform barbell shrugs you can pull more weight as compared to the dumbbell shrugs, but the dumbbell shrugs are definitely a great exercise to employ in your training routine.

Muscles worked

The primary muscles worked are the traps and rhomboids.


Biceps, flexors, serratus anterior and the three muscles of the abs.


Upright rows

Upright rows are a good exercise to supplement with shrugs in your trap training workouts. Upright rows can be performed either with a barbell or dumbbells but either way they both will target your trap muscles similarly.

When you perform the upright rows with a barbell, your hands will be in a fixed position, but if you use dumbbells when performing the upright rows, you will be able to rotate your wrists while performing this exercise and that will be a great way to stress your traps at a different angle.

Muscles worked

Upper traps, rhomboids, anterior shoulder, posterior shoulder and biceps.


Wrestlers bridge

The wrestlers Bridge does not directly target your traps but it is a great exercise to build your neck muscles. Your neck and trap muscles are closely related and when performing any trap training exercises will also indirectly target your neck muscles.

My suggestion is that when you develop a trap training routine, you should include exercises that directly target your traps, it would be a good idea to directly work your neck muscles as well.

Muscles worked

Stabalizers, core, hamstrings, gluts, spinal Erectors, traps and back of neck.Trap training


Train heavy

Trap muscles are one of those muscles that require you to train heavy. When performing shrugs you will want to load up and train heavy, but not so heavy that you are sacrificing good form.

Beware of when doing any shrugging exercise to use good form and keep looking forward, otherwise there will be a chance of pulling a neck muscle and they are never any fun.

Upright rows you will not be able to use nearly as much weight with this exercise but it’s good to include in your workout because you will be targeting your traps with a different angle and as they say, “variety is the spice of life.”


I hope that this article helps with any questions you may have had or gives you some new ideas. Trap training as well as any training is good stress relief and if you train smart you should be able to keep your workouts reasonably uninterrupted without any pains or muscle strains.

The proper supplementation can greatly increase your muscle gains and can help with giving you the energy you need to power through any workout. To check out a review on supplementation*

You can check it out here.

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