The Best Traps Exercises To Build Bigger Trap Muscles

The Best Traps Exercises To Build Bigger Trap Muscles

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Not sure what the best trap exercises are? Don't worry, we've got your back... (excuse the pun)

Your biceps and triceps might be popping, but big arms are nothing without some bulging traps muscles to support your upper limp arsenal.

Building mass and strength in your traps muscles will not only creates the signature bodybuilder aesthetic, but it also helps maintain correct posture alongside playing a key roll with your heavy lifts. Exercises that train your traps muscles are a really important addition to your upper body workout routine, and we've got the best traps exercises for you to try.

What are the best exercises for traps? We've got five of the best traps exercises you should definitely add to your next traps workout, or back workout in general...


Here are 5 of the best exercises for traps:

Scroll down to find out more about each traps exercise, and how to do them.

  • Shrugs
  • Barbell Deadlift
  • Rack Pulls
  • Upright Rows
  • Face Pulls

1. Shrugs

Now then, it wouldn’t be a list of the best trap exercises if we didn’t mention shrugs.

When you think of training your traps muscles, shrugs are probably one of the first exercises that come to mind, and for good reason. These bad boys are great for activating your upper and middle traps and help to build mass, strength and muscular endurance. 

Shrugs are a great exercise whatever your ability, as they can be done with anything from dumbbells and barbells to cables or a trap bar. This also makes them the perfect traps exercise if you’re short on equipment or don’t fancy waiting around for the barbell.

The shrug exercise can make for a great upper body finisher, isolating the traps muscles. Pick an appropriate weight and aim for 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions to really feel the burn.

2. Barbell Deadlift

If we’re talking about the best ways to build a specific muscle group, deadlifts pretty much always feature, and we’re not even sorry about it.

When performed correctly, deadlifting is one of the best compound exercises out there, demanding so much, from so many muscle groups in the body. This lift requires your entire back to be engaged, including your traps muscles.

Ok, so the traps muscles aren't the main focus with this lift, but the beauty of the deadlift is that all three parts of the trapezius muscle are challenged.

Start your workout with deadlifts, end it with shrugs and trust us, your traps will have got a serious pump from two of the best traps exercises.

3. Rack pulls

If you don’t know what rack pulls are, it's pretty much the top half of a deadlift; rather than lifting the bar from the floor, you pull from the rack at roughly knee height.

So why are they featuring as well as a deadlift? Well, as you are pulling from a higher point when compared to a conventional deadlift, rack pulls concentrate on the upper portion of the deadlift movement, which demands more from the upper body, back and traps muscles, making them another great traps exercise.

Therefore, if today isn't leg day, you can target your traps with rack pulls rather than a full, conventional deadlift. They’re not going to give you the same full-body strength development, but rack pulls are definitely up there with the best exercises for traps.

4. Upright rows

Upright rows are a great exercise to add to your traps muscle workout routine, and if you're currently skipping them, it's definitely time to give this exercise a little love. Not only are they going to help you build strength and mass in your traps, but they also challenge your anterior and rear deltoids.

Linked to shoulder pain and causing shoulder impingement, the upright row is an exercise that needs to be performed correctly to avoid issues.

Start light and master the movement, focusing on the muscular contraction in a higher rep range. The upright row is also an essential part of the clean and press; so if you're an Olympic lifter, isolating this movement will help condition your trap muscles allowing you to throw more weight above your head in the bigger lifts.

If you already struggle with chronic shoulder issues/pain, this may be one to avoid when you’re planning your exercises for traps.

5. Face pulls

Face pulls are often overlooked when it comes to upper body exercises and when training the traps muscles. However, they are an excellent exercise when it comes to building muscle, correcting posture and promoting good overall shoulder health.

Similar to upright rows, face pulls are a shoulder exercise that also engage the traps muscles.

They need to be performed in a controlled motion, ensuring the muscles are loaded correctly is key to avoiding shoulder joint issues.

Add them in at the end of your workout for a finisher that is guaranteed to leave your traps muscles ruined… in a good way. 

Try This Shoulder Workout Or Create Your Own Traps Muscle Workout


The Best Traps Workout

Now you have five of the best trap exercises to increase the strength of your trap muscles and promote muscle growth; it's time to put them together to create your next traps workout. Combining the best traps exercises above will help target your traps muscles in different ways, challenging and stimulating the muscle to adapt and grow.

Try This Traps Workout:

Here is one of the best traps workouts to challenge your trapezius muscles. Starting with heavier, strength based rep ranges before moving towards hypertrophy and muscular endurance. Keep rest times between 45 - 60 seconds and be sure to challenge yourself with the correct weight - these trap exercises shouldn't be easy!

  • a1. Barbell Deadlift - 5 sets 5 reps
  • b1. Rack Pulls - 3 sets 8 reps
  • c1. Upright Row - 3 sets 10 reps
  • c2. Face Pulls - 3 sets 10 reps
  • d1. Shrugs - 3 sets 20 reps

*c1. + c2. and d1. + d2. are supersets.

Make sure you save this awesome traps workout for your next session in the gym, and start building powerful traps muscles!

We've given you five of the best traps exercises for building bigger, more developed traps muscles.
Now it's time to put them to the test.

Plan your own workout from the five above, add a couple on to your current workout routines or make your own workout programme on the Gymshark Conditioning App.

Which is your favourite training exercise for traps? 

Let us know in the comments down below. 

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