The Best Traps Workout For Men – Focusing On The Overall Mass And Shape Of The Muscle

When it comes to building an impressive upper body, the Trapezius muscles are, in my opinion, one of those muscles that really make a difference in your physique. Unfortunately though, they can be a little tricky to develop. To me, the best traps workout will focus not only on size but also on the shape of the muscle. It’s one thing to get big traps, but it’s another to build well shaped & defined traps — it takes a combo of both mass and definition.

Traps Workout

One thing to keep in mind though, is that you don’t want to over-develop your traps if you shoulders and chest are lagging far behind. The key to shaping a good physique is balance and proportions.

Having said that though, if the traps are one of your personal favorites, then go for it — build them slightly more than the other muscles if that’s what you want to really stand out. Either way, this traps workout is going to get the job done — it’s up to you how much you decide to work them.

Developing The Traps Muscles

To me, good trap muscles are not too bulky but they are tall and have a good cut where they meet the shoulders. When you think of a guy with tall traps you can picture him having a shape almost like a kite if you combine his trap muscles with his lats.

Traps Muscle

Looking at the back, you should be able to see good definition not only from the back of the head to the outer shoulders, but also you can see form the diagram that the trapezius muscle extends to even the middle of your back.

The harder to develop portion of the traps is the part of the muscle that everyone likes though — the top part.

An Overview Of The Traps Exercises

What most people think of when you talk about a traps workout is doing a lot of shrugs. They do have a place among some of the best traps exercises, but I wouldn’t rank them at the top of the list.

If you want to build tall traps that have that hanging look then it’s going to take more than just shrugs. Here are the exercises we’ll use for in our traps workout that will create tall and defined traps.

  • Flared lateral raises – This is an awesome twist on an already effective traps exercise. Using dumbbells, perform a traditional lateral raise but with your traps flared (or rotated) forward. You can do this by concentrating on pushing your shoulder blades back.
  • Traps push-ups – Great to work the entire trap muscle. Think of a pushup, but instead of your hands on the floor, put your entire forearm down. When it comes time to push, use your back and push through your elbows and forearms. This seems easy at first but you’ll feel your traps working. Try putting a weight plate on your back if you feel you need to.
  • Shrug swing – I like this exercise because it’s similar to a traditional front raise but with this slight tweak it works the lats a bit better. Holding a kettleball or weight in both hands and with your legs spread a bit wider than your shoulders, swing the weight (controlled) out in front of you and really try to shrug at the top of the motion.
  • Upright row – I realize that this isn’t new or even out of the box, but it is an effective exercise to build big traps. When doing these though, concentrate on pulling up with the traps and avoid cheating by leaning forward or backward.

Creating a Traps Workout With These Exercises

Since the traps are fairly hard to build, at least at first, the best traps workout should consist of sets and reps that build large and solid traps. When training for both size and definition, it’s usually best to use heavy weights — you need to be careful while doing these exercises and remember form is much more important — and higher sets of medium to lower reps. I generally like to do a total of 20 sets of 5-8 reps.

  • Flared lateral raises – 5 sets of 5-8 reps
  • Traps push ups – 5 sets of 5-8 reps
  • Shrug swing- 5 sets of 5-8 reps
  • Upright row – 5 sets of 5-8 reps

A Warning About Working Out Your Traps

Where are the rotating shrugs? Honestly, I wasn’t going to put those on the list anyway because I just do not get good results from them. While doing some research on the trapezius muscles and looking around to see what others do for their traps workout, I found this on … a valid warning:

If you mention dangerous practices in the gym, inevitably trap training comes up because lots of inexperienced lifters … get caught up in doing rotating shrugs. Rotating shrugs are very, very dangerous because in the weight-range you need for proper stimulation you are wide-open to creating a chronic rotator cuff injury … please think twice about the consequences before you try new exercises. Do yourself a favor and stay away from this one.

I think this is solid advice! Not only do rotating shrugs not produce the kind of results that other trap exercises produce, but they greatly increase your risk of injury. If you are doing this, stop it. 😉