How to Get Big Traps Fast
Maximizing the growth potential of your trapezius, located on the center of your upper back, means training the upper, middle and lower sections of the muscle. Common practice is usually to focus on the upper traps, through shoulder shrugs. But adding exercises that also target the middle and lower portions of the muscle, like bent-over lateral raises and external shoulder rotations, respectively, can help to more fully and inclusively develop the size and strength of the traps.
Warm up for 10 minutes with cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging, cycling or jumping rope. Perform one to two sets of bodyweight rows, 10 repetitions each, to activate your upper body muscles.
Choose resistance levels for each trapezius exercise that will allow you to complete at least eight but not more than 12 repetitions with proper form. Aim for three sets per exercise. Complete eight to 12 repetitions per set.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, holding a barbell with an overhand grip for shrugs, which target the upper traps. Elongate your spine, activate your abs and slide your shoulder blades down your back. Allow the barbell to hang in front of your thighs, keeping the arms straight but the elbows soft. Lift your shoulders toward your ears, bringing them as high up as possible. Avoid rolling the shoulders or arching your lower back. Keep your body stabilized as the shoulders and traps do the work. Hold the lift for one count at the top and then slowly lower your shoulders to starting position.
Perform bent-over lateral raises to target the middle trapezius muscle. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip in front of your thighs; turn palms in to face each other. Pull your stomach in and elongate your back. Lean your torso forward by 45 degrees. Raise your arms out to the sides until the upper arms are parallel to the floor and the elbows are at shoulder height; keep the elbows raised higher than the wrists at all times. Hold the contraction for one count, and lower your arms back to starting position.
Lie on the right side of your body on the floor, while holding a dumbbell in your right hand. Stack your left shoulder, hip and ankle over the right. Bend your knees for stability. Use your right hand to prop up your head. Rest your left upper arm on the left side of your torso and extend your hand down to the floor with the forearm across your stomach with your elbow bent to 90 degrees. Lift the dumbbell toward the ceiling until your forearm is perpendicular to the floor. Hold the lift for one count and then lower your hand to starting position.
Stretch your back after your trapezius workout. Stand facing a wall. Bend your torso forward until it is parallel to the floor; press your hands into the wall as you extend your hips in the opposite direction. Hold for 30 seconds.
Consult with your physician before starting a new exercise program.
Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.