Best Science-Based Trap Workout You Should Try

Grow your traps with this excellent workout.

Any athlete wishing to grow their back should give this best science-based trap workout a go.

Out of all muscle groups in your back, the traps are perhaps the most important for creating an enviable looking upper body and completing a well-developed frame.

deadlift variations

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the trapezius is a muscle that starts at the base of your neck, goes across your shoulders and extends to the middle of your back. It helps you move your head, neck, arms, shoulders and torso, stabilizes your spine, and helps with posture.

The muscle is divided into three parts: descending (superior or upper), ascending (inferior or lower), and middle.

Many trap workouts focus heavily on the upper traps, but a good workout plan will ensure you aren’t neglecting the mid traps and the lower traps. These parts play a vital role in adding size and definition to your back, as well as play an important role in improving posture and preventing shoulder impingement.

Best Science-Based Trap Workout

The following workout is from NASM and FMS certified trainer and Kinesiology graduate Jeremy Ethier.

Above-the-Knee Rack Pulls3-4 sets of 6-8 repsUpper Traps
Barbell Shrugs3-4 sets of 10-12 repsUpper Traps
Prone Reverse Fly with External Rotation3-4 sets of 10-15 repsMid-Traps
Prone Y’s3-4 sets of 10-15 repsLower Traps
  • A 2002 study found that, during the conventional deadlift, these most trap activity between the above-the-knee position to the lockout phase. This means Above-the-Knee Rack Pulls, where you only perform the upper portion of the deadlift, are incredibly effective.
  • A 2008 paper found that the shrug elicits the highest upper trap activity compared to four other common upper trap exercises. The same was found in a 2010 EMG analysis that compared upper trap activity in 25 exercises.
  • Multiple studies have found that the prone reverse fly with external rotation elicits maximal activity of the mid-traps.
  • A 2003 study found that Prone Y’s elicit the highest lower trap activation when compared to 9 other common lower trap exercises.

For the Above-the-Knee Rack Pulls use heavy weights. Conversely, start with your bodyweight and gradually add weight as needed during the Prone Reverse Fly and Prone Y’s.

Watch all exercises being performed below:

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