What Are the Best Trap Exercises?

Traps anatomy

The trapezius is a large muscle group that extends from the back of the skull to the shoulder blades and the spine. There are 3 regions: the descending (upper), transverse (medial) and ascending (lower) traps (see chart above). But, what are the best trap exercises?


What Are the Best Trap Exercises?

One study had participants perform a number of trap exercises with electrodes attached to their traps to test muscle activation levels. Here’s what the researchers found:

Trap exercises emg

For the upper traps, dumbbell shrugs came out on top. However, narrow grip barbell front raises and deadlifts weren’t far behind if you prefer those exercises. Here’s how to do dumbbell shrugs:

For the medial traps, machine reverse flyes came out on top. For the medial traps, rotate 90 degrees (until your upper arms are aligned):

For lower traps, machine reverse flyes also came out on top, but for the lower traps you should rotate 120 degrees:



So, aim for dumbbell shrugs for the upper traps and machine reverse flies for the medial and lower traps. If you prefer bodyweight exercises, dips came out on top. Good luck.



Boeckh-Behrens, Wend-Uwe, and Wolfgang Buskies. “Fitness-Krafttraining.”Reinbek bei Hamburg 20013 (2000).