The trapezius muscle, often referred to in the plural as traps, is located on each side of the neck, above the shoulders. It's a alrge muscle that helps move the arms and shoulders while supporting the spine and neck. Strong traps help protect against a variety of injuries, so it is important to include them in a strength-building routine. The workouts listed here should help you build up your traps.
Dumbell shrugs is a key exercise for attacking the trapezius muscle. The range of motion works both sides of the neck at one time. To begin, select to dumbells at a comfortable weight for you. Hold the weight at your sides; as if you are standing with you hands down by your waist. Without moving your arms, rotate your shoulders in either a forward or backward direction. Do not allow your head or body to lean forward as this will cause extra strain on your neck. This exercise fully stimulates the traps and forces them to be the primary muscles in moving the weight.
This exercise requires that you use an adjustable bench. Set it near a 125 degree angle, which is usually the second or third level on most benches. Take two dumbbells with a grip that allows your fists to face the ceiling. Start with the weights level with your head as you lean on the angled bench. You should be able to hold the weight in that position without the aid of a spotter. From that point raise the dumbbells together until they are both level above your head with arms extended. Do not lock your arms but keep them slightly bent to avoid injury to your elbows. Hold this position for a one count before lowering them back down and into the second repetition. Again it's important that you keep your head raised and focused on an object above you to avoid causing injury to your neck. Also do not lower your arms too far as that can cause serious damage to your chest and shoulders. A spotter can stand behind the bench with their hands under your elbows for support.
This exercise can also be completed with a weighted barbell. It functionally targets the same area and could be substituted for an added twist in your workout.
The upright row is an important exercise for the development of one's upper body. When correctly executed you will feel the effects on your trapezius muscle. Your grip strength can also improve by using this lift. For this exercise, take either a preloaded weight bar or one you can load plates onto yourself. Hold the bar with both hands and your palms facing in towards your body. Your hands should be shoulder width apart and the bar should be about eight inches away from your body. However, if your wrists begin to hurt during this exercise you can widen your grip to alleviate that pain. Keep your eyes fixed in front of you with your chin up. Using just your shoulders and back, bring the bar straight up until it is level with your chest. Hold it there and lower it to finish one repetition. Be sure not to swing your body as this can cause lower back problems. A spotter can assist you by standing in front and monitoring your posture or helping with the lift.
Benefits of Strong Trapezius Muscles
Conditioning the trapezius can help you avoid injuries from sudden neck movements. Well-conditioned traps can also help you in other important lifts such as the bench press and pull ups, where they help stabilize parts of upper body during the workout. Also, properly working out your trapezius will help you have better form when completing other lifts. It is a common mistake for lifters to use their traps to compensate during lifts such as triceps pushdowns, which take some of the work away from the targeted muscle. Effectively working out the traps with these exercises will help to keep them from becoming a crutch in other workouts.