Have you ever seen a guy at the gym who’s really muscular but has wimpy traps and a skinny neck? You don’t want to be that guy.
The trapezius muscle is one of the most overlooked muscles by active weightlifters. Many gym-goers prefer to spend more time on their abs and biceps rather than the other muscles that get less attention from the ladies. For some people, that makes perfect sense, but it’s not necessarily a good thing.
Only focusing on certain muscles in your workouts and neglecting others will make your body look very unproportional. A fit-looking body is well rounded. That means all of the muscles should be equally well sculpted. You shouldn’t settle for anything less.
So this brings us to the trapezius muscle (more commonly known as traps). Having chiseled traps that are well formed comes with a slew of benefits. Not only does it make you look more intimidating, it thickens your neck (since your neck muscles and traps are often stimulated by similar workouts), it compliments your shoulders, and it makes your back look stronger. All of these are great, but they’re only aesthetic qualities. Exercising your traps has functional benefits as well.
Having firm traps will help make your neck much stronger and will increase your pulling strength. Your traps not only serve as stabilizers for your neck, but they also support your arms when performing pulling exercises. This kind of power especially comes in handy in grappling sports like wrestling and jiu-jitsu. It’s very useful in grappling situations in mixed martial arts fights as well.
Although your traps already get worked out in many important lifts like lateral raises, deadlifts, and cleans, there are other exercises that specifically focus on your traps without forcing you to labor your other muscles too hard. The exercises we’ll go over are the ones you should be doing in addition to your regular lifting routine. They’re not meant to replace your main lifts. You should typically exercise your traps immediately after a shoulder workout.
Here are three exercises that will help you strengthen your traps:
1) Dumbbell Shrugs
Shrugs are great for strengthening your traps. Stand with your back straight while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should be facing inward. Exhale while raising your shoulders as high as possible, and make sure to keep your arms stationary. Briefly hold the position, and then inhale as your lower your shoulders. Try three sets of fifteen.
2) Barbell Shrugs
Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a barbell out in front of you with your palms facing toward you. Your hands should be slightly wider than the width of your shoulders. This will be your starting position. Exhale as you shrug your shoulders up as high as you can while keeping your arms straight. Pause for a brief moment, and then inhale as you lower your shoulders back to the original starting position. Try three sets of twelve to fifteen.
3) Standing Upright Rows
This exercise can be done with a curling bar, barbell, dumbbells, or even a kettlebell. For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to describe the barbell version. Begin by gripping the barbell with your palms facing toward you and your elbows slightly bent. Your grip should be just a little less than should-width apart. Stand up straight and rest the barbell against your upper thighs. This will be your starting position. Exhale as you lift the bar to your upper-chest area while keeping your back straight. It’s important that your elbows always stay higher than your forearms while performing this exercise. Once you’ve raised the barbell, briefly pause before inhaling and slowly lowering the bar back to the starting position. Try three sets of twelve to fifteen.