Trapezius muscle training: the best exercises

Do you want to strengthen your trapezius muscles to shape your back or improve your posture? Discover the best exercises!

We are not always aware of it, but the trapezius muscles are nevertheless key to our proper functioning and it is important to take care of them. By working on them, you will protect yourself against various ailments, especially those of the neck and back. It is well worth dwelling on the subject!

Where are the trapezoids located?

To begin, we will explain to you why the trapezius muscles must be integrated into your regular training and/or bodybuilding program. And it was coachfit, our coach advisor, who accepted the question-and-answer game on the subject. She gives us a little lesson in anatomy: “The trapezius is a triangular and superficial muscle, located at the level of the neck and upper back”, details the coach. “It goes down to the middle of the back and has three beams, which work together: the upper, the middle and the lower”. There you go, you know a little more about our anatomy and how the trapezius muscles fit into it.

How and why to work the trapezes?

The trapeze helps us to stand up straight. It is used to avoid hunching, a bad posture that appears insidiously when we sit for a long time, for example at a desk or at the wheel of a vehicle. This bad position also leads to tension in the muscles of our back and it is a vicious circle: not using our trapezius enough is to feel tension there. And then, strengthening this area is an integral part of a complete back workout. In terms of aesthetics, for a harmonious and muscular back, it’s hard to miss! To avoid tensions and feelings of tightness in the trapezius muscles and hold you better daily, it is possible to include specific exercises in your sports and/or bodybuilding sessions.

Some movements will be able to be performed using your body weight, without equipment, others using dumbbells (which can be replaced by water bottles) and rubber bands. These exercises are quite feasible at home, with a small dose of motivation and rhythmic music. “While many sports disciplines solicit these muscles, dancing requires support and good posture, and will work this area in particular”, specifies our coach, anxious to make the information complete!

The best exercises to work your traps

Beyond the aesthetic aspect, strengthening your trapezius muscles means standing better and functioning better. So, here are some tips to build muscle in this area. To properly perform the movements to follow, keep your head in line with your back and your back flat. Let’s go .

a person using a trap bar

The deadlift

  • First exercise to perform from home or in the gym, the deadlift. “This exercise has the particularity of working all the muscles, in particular by soliciting the posterior chain”, details coach.
  • Feet hip-width apart or “sumo” version, so even more spaced out, lean your bust forward, your back flat, until it’s parallel to the ground. “You have to control the descent and make the ascent more dynamically, so that the trapezes are used,” says Elodie. “The neck must be aligned with the back, so as to avoid tension in the cervical.”
  • How to build trapezius muscle? try “shrugs”!
  • Well, there are different ways to engage these muscles! Here is a second very simple exercise, which will target more the upper trapezius.
  • Stand up, arms along the body and weights in each hand, water bottles of at least 1.5 liters or dumbbells. “We will simply shrug our shoulders, keeping our backs flat, straight and shoulders back,”

Work your traps with the “shrugs”

To relax or relieve the trapezius, we continue the job! Another fairly simple exercise to perform: the Farmer’s walk. No, we are not inviting you to dance the country, but rather to strengthen your trapezius muscles! “This exercise will engage the upper and middle trapezius,” begins coach.

  • “Get a fair amount of weight in each hand. Water packs might do just fine for starters. And you’ll just walk.” Quite simply, quite simply… Yes, but with balance and without going left-right! With weights in each hand, the exercise has the effect of strengthening the back muscles…
man doing pull ups

High pull-ups to strengthen your back

We will stay with the weights, but this time, raising our elbows. No, not (yet) at the bar, but definitely in your living room or in a gym. This exercise requires dumbbells.

  • Feet at hip level, weight in

hands and hands at chest height, you will raise your elbows to the side, so that they rise higher than the wrists. Be careful, your shoulders must remain low. “This exercise works the upper and middle trapezius,” adds coach.
Bodybuilding and bends back: the horizontal pull
Another bodybuilding exercise aimed at working the trapezius muscles: the horizontal pull. Take a rubber band and hang it somewhere at chest height (a window handle can do the trick).

  • “Standing up, you will grab the elastic and put it in slight tension, arms outstretched in front of you” describes coach. “Then, you’ll bring it back up to your chest level, putting your elbows at the back of your body.” The more the elastic is in tension, the more the exercise will be intense and the effects of the movement consequent.
man in black tank top exercising

Special trapeze exercises: horizontal pull-ups with inclined chest

Another bodybuilding exercise that also uses the horizontal pull:

  • bring two weights, place yourself in the deadlift position, bust forward, flat back, aligned neck and arms outstretched in front of you (therefore towards the ground). “In the same way as the previous exercise, we will bring the elbows back”, describes our coach. “This will engage the entire posterior muscle chain of our body, and the upper, middle and lower trapezius.”
  • Small variation of this exercise, bust still tilted, spread your arms outstretched to the sides. You will work the triceps at the same time! In the event of an inclination of the bust, be sure to always keep your back flat, a sine qua none condition for effective exercises.

Trapezius pain and contractures?

The upper beam of the trapezius is used to raise the shoulders, extend the head back, turn it or tilt it. We use it daily! The middle beam of the trapezius helps bring the shoulder blades closer to the spine, pulling the shoulders back. Finally, the lower beam lowers your shoulders and also brings your shoulder blades closer to your spine.

When you sleep poorly, experience a period of stress or adopt poor posture at the office, it is often the trapezius muscle that suffers and contracts. “We then feel tension in the upper back and neck,” says coach. Let anyone who has never experienced tension in the neck and contractures in the back cast the first stone! Hence the interest of relaxing the trapezius, by performing regular stretches, but also of working on it, to improve your posture in the long term and prevent back pain.

How to relax and relieve your trapezius muscles?

In addition to targeted weight training, stretch regularly, especially if you have a job that does not require you to move a lot. “When you sit for a long time, for example, you quickly adopt a bad posture,” says a coach. A sedentary lifestyle is the enemy of the trapezius muscles…”

It is therefore important to stretch regularly, upwards, arms outstretched and hands joined.” Do the same thing, this time with the hands forward: this allows the shoulder blades to widen and relieve the pain. Stretching can also be done with the shoulders back, rolling them around to unlock that whole upper back area.

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