Trapezius Exercises

African bodybuilder with a barbell loaded with weight, narrow grip on the bar, raises it up until it is under his chin, with elbows faced out.Upright Rows

Purpose: To develop the trapezius and the front deltoids and create separation between deltoids and pectorals. 

Execution: 1) Stand grasping a barbell with an overhand grip, hands 8 to 10 inches apart. Let the bar hang straight down in front of you. 2) Lift it straight up, keeping it close to your body, until the bar just about touches your chin. Keep your back straight and feel the traps contract as you do the movement. Your whole shoulder girdle should rise as you lift the weight. From the top, lower it once more under control to the starting position. 

This is an exercise that you should do strictly, not cheating or swinging the weight up, keeping your body still, and making sure that you feel the traps working as well as the biceps and front delts. (You can substitute a short bar and cable for the barbell and use Cable Upright Rows as a variation. The constant resistance of the cable helps you do the movement as strictly as possible.) 

A bodybuilder with a barbell across his thighs loaded with weight, getting ready to use his back and legs to pull the bar up under his chinHeavy Upright Rows

Purpose: A heavy cheating movement for advanced bodybuilders to strengthen the entire shoulder girdle and upper back. 

Execution: 1) Choose a heavy barbell and grasp it with an overhand grip, hands about 12 inches apart. Let the bar hang down at arm's length in front of you. 2) Lift the bar straight up to a point just below your chin, allowing yourself to cheat by swaying with the back, pushing with the legs, and even helping with the calves. As you lift, keep your elbows out and up higher than the bar. Then lower the bar back to the starting position. Remember, this is a power movement in which cheating plays a vital role. This makes Heavy Upright Rows quite a different exercise from standard Upright Rows, which must be done very strictly. 

Schwarzenegger with dumbbells in each hand to his side, lifting his shoulders straight up to perform a shrugShrugs

Purpose: To develop the trapezius muscles. This exercise can be done extremely heavy to thicken the traps, which really helps you in doing back poses. 

Execution: Stand upright, arms at sides, a heavy dumbbell in each hand. Raise your shoulders up as high as you can, as if trying to touch them to your ears. Hold at the top for a moment, then release and return to the starting position. Try not to move anything but your shoulders. 

Barbell Shrugs

Purpose: To develop the trapezius muscles. 

Execution: Stand upright, holding a barbell at arm's length in front of you, using an overhand grip. Raise your shoulders as high as you can, as if trying to touch them to your ears. Hold in this position for a moment, then lower the bar, under control, back to the starting position. 

You can sometimes find Shrug machines in a gym and can also use a variety of Bench Press machines to do Shrugs as well. To get really heavy, try to position a barbell on a low support using a Squat rack, which lets you handle very heavy poundages without having to expend energy lifting the bar off the floor. 

› Trapezius Exercises
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