Essential 4 Moves for Bigger Traps

Building big traps is a necessity for a symmetrically sculpted upper torso, and most guys usually give these muscles attention at the end of their shoulder workout. But to really build some shirt stretching traps, you’ve got to isolate this area with a variety of exercises that target the upper, middle and lower section of these muscles.

The upper traps can be developed by elevating the shoulders through common exercises such as shrugs and upright rows, while the mid traps can be developed by pulling the shoulder blades together. As for the lower traps, they can best be developed by drawing the shoulder blades downward while keeping the arms almost straight and stiff.

Dedicate a training day to these muscles with the following 4 exercises, and you’ll be busting out some bigger traps in no time.

Barbell Shrug
  1. Stand up straight with feet shoulder width apart while holding barbell straight down at thigh level – palms facing in.
  2. Raise your shoulders up as far as you can go and hold for a second.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position.

Sets & Reps: 4 x 12-15

TIP: This exercise can also be performed with the barbell behind the back, with dumbbells by the side, or with a Smith or shrug machine.

Bent-Over Lateral Raise
  1. While holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with knees slightly bent and back arched forward.
  2. With palms facing torso, extend arms out to sides with the elbows slightly bent.
  3. Raise the arms until elbows are at shoulder height and arms are roughly parallel to the floor.
  4. Try to bring the shoulder blades as close together as possible when the arms are raised.
  5. Slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position.

Sets & Reps: 3 x 10-12

Face Pull
  1. Attach a rope to a cable machine.
  2. Grab the rope with both hands and pull the weight towards your face.
  3. Keep your upper arms parallel to the ground, and your elbows higher than your wrists throughout movement.
  4. Slowly bring the rope back to the starting position.

Sets & Reps: 4 x 15

TIP: When going heavy use one of your feet as leverage by pushing it against the cable machine.


Calf Machine Shoulder Shrug
  1. Position yourself on the calf machine so that the shoulder pads are on top of your shoulders.
  2. Raise your shoulders up towards your ears as you exhale and hold the contraction for a full second.
  3. Slowly return to starting position

Sets & Reps: 4 x 12-15