Best Ways To Get Huge Traps And Why You Need Them


Increase power and strength for your body with these traps exercises. Oh, and look good too.

When we exercise for that toned physique, we focus on so many muscle groups and various exercises to boost our confidence and athletic performance. Maintaining a well-defined body requires diligence and hard work all while we tend to focus on our back, chest, biceps, abs, and arms for full muscle development, our traps are often neglected. But your trapezius muscle can do so much more than just add to a well-built appearance. With huge traps, your power and strength will improve for an overall full body experience.

The right exercises can really develop those traps to ultimately lead to a stellar physique, but proper training is required to avoid injury to not only these muscles, but those surrounding them like your neck and shoulders. Injury prevention is key in keeping us in the gym and working hard and strong traps will increase the load on your neck keeping you stable. For bodybuilders and powerlifters, huge traps will give you the leg up on the competition and improve your overall performance.

There are a host of different exercises to work your upper, middle, and lower traps and dedicating time to each section can add to that sculpted upper torso for attention and strength. For your physical development, trapezius exercises can recruit other muscles to generate overall growth and support (1), but the confidence you get from looking in the mirror will make you glad you focused on these often over-looked muscles.

These five exercises are great for working your traps, but the added benefit is the other muscles recruited to do these as well. Looking for challenging ways to improve your overall performance is the best way to see muscle growth and increase strength so your big gains and endurance become the forefront of your workouts.


Shrugs are a classic trap exercise to really work your upper trap muscles. You can use a barbell or dumbbells and either way they are a great exercise for muscle growth and muscular endurance. As a way to isolate the traps, these are a solid choice to do as a final exercise for your upper body (2).

How to: With your feet shoulder-width apart, hold the weight at thigh level. Your hand should be facing you and your body is straight with a tight core. Raise your shoulders as high as you can while keeping good form and pause slightly at the top. Gently lower down to the starting position and complete with your desired number of reps.


This staple powerlifting exercise is one most notably recognized as a great workout for your back and legs, but your traps work hard to keep your back straight allowing for them to get a good burn. While your traps aren’t your main focus with a deadlift, all three sections of the trapezius are worked to give you a great pump.

How to: With your feet hip-width apart, place your hands on the grip just outside your legs. Make sure to keep a flat back and an engaged core. As you hinge at the hips to raise the weight, keep the bar in contact or as close to your legs as you can. Lift to your thighs and gently lower back to the starting position.

Bent-Over Lateral Raise

The bent-over lateral raise is a great exercise for your back, shoulders, and traps and require you to move the weight outward. With benefits for strength, power, and overall fitness, this is a solid choice to increase shoulder strength and support (3).

How to: Bend over from the waist with your chest parallel to the floor. Holding the weights in front of you, raise both arms to shoulder height, or close to parallel to the floor. Flex the rear delts as you pause at the top and lower to the starting position.


Face Pulls

This exercise is often neglected but is great for your upper body and traps. Not only do face pulls work to promote muscle growth, but also support overall shoulder health and improve posture. They can be a great additional workout to work on the internal rotation of the shoulder joint while also providing a good burn for your traps.

How to: Using a cable machine with a rope attached, grab the rope and pull towards your face. Your arms should be parallel to the ground with your elbows higher than your wrists. Get a good squeeze and slowly return to the starting position.

Upright Rows

Upright rows are something to consider adding to your workouts because they add a challenge for your delts while also providing for mass gains in your traps (4). As an important movement for powerlifters who do a clean and press, it is important to start light to get proper form and gradually increase in weight for bigger, more effective lifts.

How to: With your feet shoulder-width apart, your grip should be slightly closer than shoulder-width apart on the bar. With a slight bend in your legs and a tight core, raise the bar up towards your head keeping it close to your body. After a slight pause, reverse the movement back to the starting position.

Why You Need Strong Traps

Strong traps provide for stability and increased strength in the areas surrounding your upper body including your neck and shoulders (5). Providing for great ways to prevent injury, strong traps allow for better absorption for those in contact sports, but also strengthen smaller muscles around the area for increase balance and support. Your shoulders are fairly weak joints and it is important to keep them stable for they are important for almost every exercise. Increasing flexibility and range of motion can give your athletic performance that much needed boost and traps provide a solid foundation for the shoulder girdle. On top of the physical benefits, traps will really make your physique pop which is something we all want. That toned aesthetic requires all parts of our body to be strong and balanced and huge traps can really make a statement.

Wrap Up

Although they are often times overlooked, your traps should have as much attention as any other muscle group. Strong, stable traps provide for solid benefits in injury prevention and shoulder support, but the look will give you confidence and keep you standing tall. These exercises are great ways to build muscle and muscular endurance to improve your overall performance and outlook on fitness. Push yourself with these trapezius exercises to look and feel great about your progress in the gym.

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*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Petersen, Shannon M.; Wyatt, Sarah N. (2011). “Lower Trapezius Muscle Strength in Individuals With Unilateral Neck Pain”. (source)
  2. Armitage-Johnson, Stephanie (1990). “The Power Shrug”. (source)
  3. Pierce, Kyle C. (1998). “Bent-Over Lateral Raise and Jerk From Rack”. (source)
  4. McAllister, Matthew J.; Schilling, Brian K.; Hammond, Kelley G.; Weiss, Lawrence W.; Farney, Tyler M. (2013). “Effect of Grip Width on Electromyographic Activity During the Upright Row”. (source)
  5. Petersen, Shannon M.; Wyatt, Sarah N. (2011). “Lower Trapezius Muscle Strength in Individuals With Unilateral Neck Pain”. (source)
Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.