These trap exercises will get you noticed. One muscle group that really separates males from females is the traps.

You rarely see women with larger trap muscles but in men, it’s one of the muscles that when developed nicely, makes them look extremely masculine. As such, trap exercises a priority for many guys who hit the gym.

One nice thing about the traps is that because the range of motion is quite short, they aren’t as demanding as something like training legs or shoulders would be, so they can easily be trained twice a week without any trouble.

If you want to get your own traps growing, the following ten best trap exercises should be a must-do on your list. By adding these to your workout program frequently and ensuring you hit your traps hard and heavy, you’ll begin seeing the development you’re looking for.

Seated Dumbbell Shrugs

Though the traps get worked during many other exercises, it is always a good idea to throw in some shrugs for extra stimulus.

When doing this trap exercise, aim to perform 30 seconds time under tension rather than counting reps and squeeze your traps hard at the top of each exercise.

Execution

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and sit on the bench comfortably
  2. Hold the dumbbells by your sides with palms facing the torso
  3. Shrug the dumbbells and contract the traps up top
  4. Go back down slowly
  5. Repeat for 30 seconds time under tension, without counting reps

Plate Shrug Lift

The plate shrug lift is one that will work not only the traps but also the front delts so is great to do on a shoulder training day as well.

Execution

  1. Hold a plate with both hands and keep it in front of the body
  2. Shrug the plate up, then directly move into a front raise
  3. Lift the plate all the way up and over your head
  4. Go back down slowly, maintaining tension on the delts
  5. Repeat the movement pattern

You’ll want to squeeze the traps during both the actual shrug itself, as well as when you are at the top and lifting the weight overhead.

This will ensure maximum muscle stimulation is felt during the movement.

Standing Plate Shrugs

Barbell movements tend to disbalance muscle groups easier.

That is exactly why an exercise like the standing plate shrug is a nice addition to your workout program.

This unilateral exercise is perfect for overall trap growth.

It can also be alternated with the seated dumbbell shrug when you feel like it.

Execution

  1. Grab one plate on each side
  2. Stand up straight and keep the arms by your sides with palms facing the torso
  3. Shrug the plates up, contracting the traps up top
  4. Go back down slowly, maintaining tension on the traps

Some guys may find that this trap exercise is the best to use after you perform a heavy set of shrugs by dropping the weight, grabbing your plate and then performing the shrug from there.

If doing it as a superset in this fashion to optimize metabolic stress, go lighter on the plate shrugs so you can get sufficient reps to bring on that stress to the muscle tissues.

Rope Face Pull Traps Variation

The rope pull is a move that’s classically done for the rear delts, however with one simple alteration, you can really get your traps being called into play.

Furthermore, this is the perfect shoulder-strengthening exercise that will help you prevent rotator cuff injuries.

Execution

  1. Attach a rope to the upper pulley and stand in front of the cable machine
  2. Grab the rope with an overhand grip
  3. Step back and lean back slightly
  4. Keep torso straight and  bend the knees
  5. Pull the rope towards your forehead and contract the shoulders and traps up top
  6. Go back down slowly

When performing this exercise, you want to do your normal face pull but when the arms are in their maximally contracted state, press up and extend the elbows above the head. As you do this, you’ll feel your traps burning as they take over maintaining the tension in the cable through to the full extension.

Bend the elbows again to lower and then finish up the face pull movement pattern. You may need to decrease the weight when doing this compared to when you were doing just the regular face pull.

Dumbbell Shrug

Dumbbell shrugs are the classic go-to for any trap building workout routine so no article outlining the 10 best trap exercises would be complete without a mention of this.

Execution

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand up straight
  2. Keep the dumbbells by your sides, with palm facing the torso
  3. Keep torso straight and look up slightly
  4. Shrug the dumbbells up, contracting the traps up top
  5. Go back down slowly
  6. Repeat the movement patterne

Dumbbell shrugs are excellent for firing up the traps and allowing you to lift heavy, allowing you to gain size and density in your traps, unilaterally.

It’s also another exercise that works great as a superset, so you’d do one set, drop the weight by 20% and then do another of 8-10 reps.

Do keep in mind some guys may want to use straps on this exercise if your traps are already very strong and you find your grip fails before your traps do.

You should aim to avoid straps though until you really need them so as to focus on building grip strength at the same time.

Smith Machine Reverse Shrug

You may not be a fan of squatting in the smith machine, but it’s a great option for working your traps.

Smith machine shrugs are easy to perform and will attack this muscle from a slightly different angle.

Because the bar is fully supported as well, you can add additional weight without worry.

Execution

  1. Place the barbell at about knee height
  2. Load the bar and stand with your back against it
  3. Grab the bar at shoulder width
  4. Un-rack the bar and keep torso straight
  5. Shrug your shoulders up, contracting the traps up top
  6. Go back down slowly, maintaining tension on the traps

Dumbbell Incline Trap Raise

The dumbbell incline trap raise is another move that will hit your traps from a different angle, which is vital for ensuring that you aren’t going to be hitting progress plateau’s at any point during the exercise while also keeping the strength gains coming.

Execution

  1. Set an incline bench to a 45-degree angle
  2. Grab a pair of dumbbells and lay face down on the bench
  3. Let the dumbbells hang freely with palms facing each other
  4. Shrug the dumbbells up, contracting the back and traps
  5. Go back down slowly
  6. Repeat the movement pattern

Make sure that you squeeze extra hard at the top of the move where you are in the peak contraction and then slowly lower down to complete the rep.

Dumbbell Farmers Walk

The dumbbell farmers walk is not only an exercise that will help you build amazing traps, but also one that’s great for working your grip strength as well.

Execution

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand up straight
  2. Hold the dumbbells by your sides and lift them laterally just an inch
  3. Shrug and squeeze the traps
  4. Walk for 30 seconds, then let go

Maintain the tension in the traps, fully squeezed, the entire time.

Try and do this trap exercise for 30 seconds total, keeping that tension the entire time.

Iso Cable Shrugs

The iso cable shrug is a perfect move for activating your traps in an isolated manner, one from the other to ensure no muscular imbalances are present.

Execution

  1. Place a handle on the lower pulley
  2. Stand away and to the side from the machine and grab the lower pulley
  3. Keep hand facing the torso
  4. Lean to the opposite side slightly
  5. Shrug the working arm and contract the trapezius up top
  6. Go back down slowly
  7. Do it on both sides

You want to maintain a nice fluid motion whenever doing this exercise while focusing on the mind-muscle connection.

Note that this exercise is not about lifting gas heavy of a weight as possible, which will surely cause you to lose the tension in the muscle tissues.

Lat Raise Trap Edition

Finally, the lat raise trap exercise is a great move for finishing off your trap workout.

The movement should be performed with lighter weight so you can instead focus on achieving the ultimate mind-muscle connection.

Execution

  1. Take a pair of dumbbells and lift them laterally with elbows slightly bent
  2. When the arms are slightly above parallel, contract the traps
  3. Go back down a couple of inches
  4. Raise the arms laterally and contract the traps again

This shortened range of motion will be enough to really get those trap muscles burning and feeling this movement.

Slow and controlled should once again be your goal as you feel the tension building.

Did you enjoy these trap exercises? Visit our comprehensive exercises database for even more types of exercises.