Doing trap exercises and working the middle back muscles is more important now than ever. Why? Expert athlete, 19-time World Champion, and 45-time National Champion Robert S. Herbst says, “Strong middle back muscles, like the rhomboids and the middle trapezius, help women maintain proper posture, bringing the shoulders into alignment with the ears, the head back on top of the spine and prevents the over curvature of the upper back which results in the dreaded “dowager’s hump”. Since the pandemic, we have moved into a more sedentary lifestyle, spending time on zoom meetings and constantly looking down into our phone screens. We have lost the ability to pull the shoulders back, elongate the waist and hold our heads high.”
Jordan Duncan (Doctor of Chiropractic) describes the trapezius muscles as 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.”
Read on for the list of the 10 best trap exercises women can do at home without weights or at the gym with weights. Do them to reduce back pain and correct your posture. Just keep reading!
- Frequency: 2-3 times per week
- Benefits: Improve posture, reduce neck pain, and strengthen the trapezius muscles.
- Equipment Needed: Dumbbells, kettlebell.
- Space Required: Small area
- Assistance Required: Yes, for initial sessions
- Who Should Avoid: Individuals with severe shoulder or neck injuries and anyone who has undergone surgery recently.
In This Article
10 Trap Exercises For Women With And Without Weights
A good upper body workout, which includes a back workout and a shoulder workout will help enhance your trap definition and achieve your fitness goals. Weightlifting and bodybuilding are both forms of resistance training or strength training that focus on muscle building. You can include dumbbell exercises like the bicep curl, barbell exercises like the squat, cable exercises like the cable row, isolation exercises like dumbbell lateral raises, or compound exercises like the lunges in your fitness routine.
Finding fitness motivation is key to sticking to a consistent workout plan and the following exercises can serve as your fitness inspiration:
Shrugs are a movement patterning 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 middle trapezius and rhomboids 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 trapezius along with the rhomboid muscles. 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 trapezius 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 middle trapezius, latissimus dorsi, 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 trapezium. 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. The exercises are simple, yet could benefit from a trainer’s expertise initially for keeping a check on your form. This exercise can be done at the gym using cables or at home with a TRX or resistance band.
- 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 trapezius strength. It is also good for the core. You can use barbells or water bottles at home to perform this exercise.
- Place a kettlebell or weight 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, ensure that you use your core to keep your torso safe and strong.
9. Reverse Flys
Reverse flys engage and strengthen the middle and lower trapezius. 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 trapezius.
- 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.
Infographic: 4 Trap Exercises Without Weights For Women
Due to increased desk jobs and a decrease in daily activities, the necessity for trap exercises has increased. It helps tackle bad posture and shoulder pain. While the gym is only a suitable option for a few, here are some trap exercises you can perform from the comfort of your home and without any equipment. Check out the infographic below for 4 easy trap exercises.
Trapezius exercises help to fix posture issues and reduce neck and shoulder pain. Sandra Calva, a Pilates instructor, 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, it is important to strengthen your traps, which are attached to the collarbone, head, neck, shoulder blade, and mid-back. The exercises listed above help improve strength, shoulder curvature, and muscle tightness. And you don’t need a gym to do some of these exercises, which helps you save money and time. So, try them at the earliest and see the results for yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does boxing work your traps?
Yes, the punching action develops and tones your trapezius muscles to a certain extent. It also helps correct posture and develops stamina.
Are traps hard to grow?
Yes, trapezius muscles are hard to grow. However, they can grow with the right exercises and over time.
Can I train my traps every day?
No. Overworking your trap muscles may lead to muscle imbalance and serious injuries.
Are shrugs enough for traps?
Shrugs are a good way to improve your posture and work your trap muscles. You can also add other exercises like the deadlift and high-hinged pull to stay on top of your fitness game.
Are traps push or pull muscles?
Trap muscles are involved in pulling and pushing because they control how the shoulder blades move in various ways. You can practice several exercises that help in both push and pull minions.
Are trap muscles genetic?
Yes, the size, shape, and presence of trapezius muscles may be determined by genetics to a certain degree (1).
- Trapezius exercises can correct posture and reduce neck and shoulder pain in women.
- You can practice shrugs, farmer’s walks, prone I and T, and Blackburn exercises at home with or without weights.
- These at-home exercises for women also lower the risk of injuries and help you maintain a healthy posture.
Check out this video to learn about the 5 best exercises for bigger traps. Get ready to build those muscles and get that strong, powerful look you’ve always wanted.
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- The Variational Anatomy of the Trapezius Muscle: A Review of the Literature