Exercising your traps is important now more than ever. Why? Expert athlete, 19-time World Champion, and 45-time National Champion, Robert S. Herbst says, “Good traps help women correct stooped-over posture from spending too much time on the phone or the computer. Strengthening the traps reduces neck and shoulder pain and also prevents the development of the Dowager’s Hump as the upper spine curves from osteoporosis.”
Jordan Duncan, Doctor of Chiropractic, explains that traps or trapezius are kite-shaped muscles that attach to the head, neck, mid-back, shoulder blade, and collarbone. He says, “Trap exercises that target the middle and lower traps are an excellent choice for a variety of reasons. They help with posture, shoulder control, and injury prevention.” Jake Harcoff, MS, CSCS, TSAC-f, CISSN, remarks “these exercises will not make you bulky. You will see your posture improve and your shoulders pulled back into their proper position.”
In this post, fitness experts list 10 trap exercises women can do at home (no weights) or at the gym (with weights). Check them out to improve posture and reduce pain. Scroll down!
In This Article
10 Trap Exercises For Women With And Without Weights
Shrugs are the most recommended trap exercise to improve strength and posture. You can do them at home or at the gym, with or without weights.
- Stand straight, feet shoulder-width apart, roll the shoulders back and down, soft knees, and look forward. You may hold a 2-pound dumbbell in each hand.
- Elevate your shoulders as much as possible. The target is to touch your shoulders to your ears.
- Pause at the top of the shrug to maximize the contraction in your upper traps.
- Gently release the shrug and return your shoulders to their starting position.
- You can also do this exercise while sitting.
- Do 3 sets of 8 reps.
2. Farmer’s Walk
The second best and most recommended exercise for strengthening and toning the traps is the Farmer’s walk. This exercise is also known as farmer carries. It is a whole-body conditioning exercise that trains the core and the grip. You need weights to do this exercise. You may also carry water bottles if you do not have dumbbells or kettlebells at home.
- Place the weights on the floor on either side.
- Stand straight with feet hip-width apart. Roll your shoulders back and look forward.
- Bend your knees and lower your body without bending your torso forward. Pick the weights and look forward.
- Walk10 steps with the weights while keeping your core engaged and shoulders at a neutral position.
- Do 3 sets of 10 walks each.
3. Blackburn Exercise
Blackburn exercise targets the lower and middle traps. This exercise can be done at home or at the gym without any equipment.
- Lie on your belly on a mat or a bench. Keep your arms extended out to your sides, palms facing down.
- Squeeze the shoulder blades together and lift the arms up without bending the elbows.
- Count to 5 and relax.
- Do this 15 times.
4. Prone I & T
Prone I & Ts are also a great way to target the traps and reduce shoulder curvature and muscle tightness.
- To do prone I, lie down on your belly with arms straight out in front of you and your thumbs up.
- Now, lift both your hands off the floor.
- Count to 3 and relax.
- To do prone T, lie down on your belly with arms straight out to the side and your thumbs up.
- Lift your hands off the floor.
- Count to 3 and relax.
- Do each exercise 12 times.
5. Wall Push-Ups
Wall push-ups are also great for strengthening the traps, shoulder blades, chest, and arms. You can do this exercise at home or at the gym.
- Stand about 2 feet away from the wall as you face it.
- Place your hands on the wall, palms flat, shoulders relaxed, and arms extended. This is the starting position.
- Bend your elbows and move your upper torso close to the wall keeping your back straight.
- Pause for a moment and get back to the starting position.
6. Wide Grip Row
This exercise helps target the middle and lower traps. Do this exercise at a nearby gym. Focus on learning how to retract your shoulder blades properly and maintaining good posture by other pulling movements. Ask a trainer to check your form.
- Set a cable machine pulley to shoulder height with a wide bar (as shown in the image) attached
- Hold the bar, keep your arms and elbows slightly below shoulder height, and keep your shoulder blades engaged. This is the starting position.
- Drive your elbows backward as you squeeze your shoulder blades together as tightly as possible.
- Aim to get the bar to your chest (it is perfectly normal even if you can’t)
- Don’t try to compensate by arching your back or flaring your ribs. Keep your core braced and your alignment neutral.
- Slowly extend your arms forward to return to the starting position.
- Do 3 sets of 8 reps before doing 12 reps and more.
7. Face Pulls
Face pulls are another effective traps workout for women. They are easy, though they need a trainer’s guidance initially for keeping a check on your form. Also, it is best to do this exercise at a gym. You may do this with a TRX band or resistance band at home after you learn the correct form.
- Set up the cable machine by positioning it just above your head level.
- Add the rope attachment that has two handles.
- Reach forward and grab the handles using an overhand grip (palms facing the floor).
- Step backward until you have fully extended your arms. Get into a kneeling position (as shown in the image).
- Roll your shoulders back and pull the weight just enough that it’s lifting off the stack – this is your starting position.
- Pull your hands straight back towards the sides of your head. Your elbows should flare outwards and to the sides as your palms stay facing in.
- Pause for a second, and slowly extend your arms back to the starting position.
8. Suitcase Deadlift
The suitcase deadlift is great for building trap strength. It is also good for the core. You need a kettlebell to do this. You may also use water cans at home to perform this exercise.
- Place a kettlebell beside your right foot.
- Stand straight with feet hip-width apart, shoulders rolled back. This is the starting position.
- Bend your knees, push your hips out, and lower your body. Keep both your arms extended.
- Pick up the kettlebell with your right hand.
- Get back to the upright position.
- Pause for a moment and slowly place the kettlebell back on the floor.
- Do 3 sets of 5 reps.
Note: If you have lower back pain, avoid this exercise.
9. Reverse Flys
Reverse flys also engage and strengthen the traps. You need weights to do this exercise. Use 2-pound dumbbells and focus on your form more than the repetitions.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand.
- Stand straight with feet shoulder-width apart, shoulders rolled back, and knees slightly bent.
- Bend forward from your waist and let your hands extend in front of you. Keep your hands close. This is the starting position.
- Keeping your arms extended and core tight, raise the dumbbells until they are in line with your shoulders.
- Pause for a moment and bring them back slowly to the starting position.
- Do 3 sets of 8 reps.
10. Lower Trap Y Raises
Lower Trap Y Raises can be done in a prone position on a mat at home or you can use an incline bench and weights at the gym. It is a great exercise to strengthen and condition your traps.
- Lie down on your belly on a mat.
- Put your arms out at an angle so that it resembles a “Y”. Keep your thumbs out.
- Lift your arms off the floor a bit.
- Count to 3 and relax.
- Do this 12 times.
According to Sandra Calva, a seasoned Pilates instructor, traps are super important in helping you maintain a healthy posture. Proper posture supports the spine and allows it to stay neutral/straight and safe. She says, “carrying, cleaning, lifting your child, and picking things off the floor will all utilize the traps in some format. It’s a muscle group worth paying attention to.” So, go ahead and perform these 10 expert-recommended trap exercises to improve posture, reduce pain, and lower the risk of injuries.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Do push-ups work traps?
Yes, push-ups work the traps. Do wall push-ups or knee push-ups to target your upper and middle back.
How can I build my trapezius at home?
To build your traps at home, do prone I, T, and Y, push-ups, shrugs, and Blackburn exercises. You may use water bottles as weights to do deadlifts, suitcase deadlifts, and reverse flys.
Are traps a part of shoulders or the back?
Traps are present at the back. The trapezius muscle is a kite-shaped muscle that starts on the backside of the skull, travels all the way out to the furthest most point of the back of the shoulder, and finally attaches midway down the spine.
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