It is not bandz, but if you have ever seen a dude in the gym doing shrugs for his entire workout…he is working on them TRAPS! Now, I am not trying to get every person out there with traps the size of that dude, but they do serve a purpose in your body. The actual name of the muscle is Trapezius and it runs from your neck to your shoulders to your upper back. Because it is underworked in a lot of people, you might feel muscular tensions ie. pain in your neck (literally). It attaches to your scapula and upper spine, so it helps to move your shoulder blade and keep good posture for your neck. If you have a desk job, this is probably a muscle that is tight often and never properly worked, just overtasked by sitting in the same position all day. It is important to loosen it up (massage or stretching) and work it through it’s full range of motion as it is intended to function. Enjoy the workout that won’t break your neck, just strengthen it!
One Arm Wide Grip Row: Our gym has a fancy machine just for this exercise, but if yours doesn’t, you could use the cable row machine. Sit up nice and tall, then use an overhand grip the machine on the outer handle. Use your back muscles to pull the handle towards your body, one arm at a time. I perform all reps on one side, then do the other. This works the traps, but also your lat muscles.
Narrow Grip Row: Use that same machine, but this time use both hands and the narrowest grip you can. Utilize the same muscle groups to pull both arms back at the same time. I used a lighter weight for both these row exercises since I was supersetting them for a warmup.
Good Mornings: Start standing tall with a bar across your upper back, sitting on your traps actually. Keeping your legs and back both as straight as possible, hinge forward at your hips. Keep your chest “up” as you come down and stick your butt back. Use your back and butt to stand up tall and repeat. You will feel this all down your back, and even in your butt and hamstrings.
One Arm Overhead Press: Stand up tall with dumbbell in one arm and core engaged. Start with elbow flared out to the side and dumbbell at shoulder. Press the weight up overhead, trying to end at the “midpoint” of your head, where the other weight would meet it if you had one. Control the movement on the way down and repeat all reps on one side before moving to the next. This one is for those shoulders, which we know the traps are a part of.
Clean and Press: Probably one of the best trapezius movements in the clean and press. It is a multi-joint movement and requires lots of practice for perfect for. Start in a squatted position with overhand grip on the bar at your ankles. Pull the bar up and as it crosses the knees, develop momentum from your hips to fling the up, catching it with elbows exaggerated underneath. I tend to catch it in a slight squat, and continue to use that momentum as I press the bar overhead. This one will definitely get your heart rate up. As I mentioned it is a multi joint movement, it works A LOT of muscles, but really targets the traps with the rotating movement of the bar and the overhead press.
Bar Chicken Wings: Anyone who has trained with me knows that I LOVE chicken wings, but you might know them as upright rows. With an overhand grip on the bar, pull up, flaring your elbows out like you are doing the chicken dance. This one specifically targets the traps, but also the deltoids of the shoulder.
Cable Overhead Trap Raise: This is a new one I stole from the “dude” in the gym with the biggest traps I have ever seen in person. He performed it seated, but I like this machine and know that performing it standing also helps to engage the core. Set the freedom trainer cable machine up with handles, arms of the machine hip width and as low as they can go. Grab the handles with an overhand grip, but with opposite arm so the cables cross over. Raise your hands overhead so your body is in a “Y” Position. Return to resting slowly, consciously engaging your traps and shoulder so you are not over-rotating anything.
Cable Back Fly: Using the same freedom trainer cables, rise the arms up to just over shoulder height and widen the arms. For this exercise, I literally grab the cables by the balls (TMI) and don’t use the handles. Grab the cable with the opposite arm so that the cables crossover again. Start with arms in front of you and only slightly bent. Keeping arms at shoulder height, open your arms by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Return slowly to arms straight right in front of chest. This directly uses your traps and is a great finisher!
Check out the video from my YouTube Channel to see the workout in action!