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Help me strengthen my trapezius....
October 30, 2009 9:01 PM   Subscribe

Weightlifting/strength training filter: what exercises do you recommend to strengthen/build up the trapezius muscle?

Right now my workout regimen consists of pullups, chinups, bench press, squats, calf extensions, pushups, and the rowing machine for cardio.

I pulled my trapezius muscle two or three weeks ago and it has more or less healed. Now I'd like to work on strengthening it.

Thanks for any suggestions.
posted by dfriedman to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh, and if curious, i pulled it while doing a 3 hr bike ride. Clearly its not as strong as it should be!
posted by dfriedman at 9:06 PM on October 30, 2009


Deadlifts, hold the "squeeze" at the top to make them more taxing to your trapezius muscles.

Also, try throwing in some barbell or DB rows if you're not now - they'll be much more taxing to muscles in your upper back that are only somewhat implicated in pullup-type exercises.

Check out face pulls, which are lighter in load but really tough on the traps. (Also heavily endorsed by many massively strong people, FWIW)
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:13 PM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


ExRx is an invaluable reference for this type of question.
posted by alligatorman at 9:24 PM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow, alligatorman that's an excellent site. Thanks.
posted by dfriedman at 9:28 PM on October 30, 2009


If you're into the isolation-exercise thing, all roads lead to the shrug.

Try to shrug the bar as high as possible, make sure your grip is strong enough to hold on to the weight and use a power rack or a reasonable substitute for safety.
posted by jason's_planet at 9:30 PM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


You could do shrugs, but you're not doing overhead presses, deadlifts, or power cleans, so you don't need to worry about shrugs until you're doing those.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:14 PM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is an excellent routine I do every week:

Start with the bar in front of you at waist height. Grasp it with both hands in the middle, hands about 6-8 inches apart, and pull the bar up until it is a couple inches below your chin, with your elbows out to the side. Hold it for a second, then lower it slowly.

Do this without moving any other part of your body except your arms. Do not swing your torso back to raise the bar, no matter how tempting it is. If you have to swing back to raise the bar, you're using too much weight. Keep the bar several inches in front of your chest. Pull through your shoulders and trapezius only.

I've been doing this in several sets of 10-12 reps, at least once a week, for years. My trapezius and shoulder muscles are rock hard.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:54 PM on October 30, 2009


The face pulls inspector gadget mentioned are really good for you anyways, especially if you have a desk job -- it helps maintain your posture and keep your shoulders healthy. Otherwise your question has been answered here.
posted by creasy boy at 1:17 AM on October 31, 2009


Start with the bar in front of you at waist height. Grasp it with both hands in the middle, hands about 6-8 inches apart, and pull the bar up until it is a couple inches below your chin, with your elbows out to the side. Hold it for a second, then lower it slowly.

That's called an upright row, and has been known to lead to shoulder impingement. ExRx recommends taking a wide grip, I'd recommend doing a more useful movement altogether.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:52 AM on October 31, 2009


Are you certain you need to strengthen the traps? Just because you aggravated that muscle while bike riding, doesn't necessarily mean it's weak. I would work on strengthening your body in all planes of motion. This includes abdominals, lower back, serratus anterior, and glutes. Also look at your range of motion, and any asymmetries and imbalances in how you walk, work, ride and otherwise use your body. Most people need to work on opening up their body, from the constant tendency to slouch down and forward. Also make sure to stretch after your workout and also consider massage, hot soaks, and yoga.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 10:46 AM on October 31, 2009


Olympic weight lifting! Working on the clean and snatch will strengthen your traps (and most of the rest of your body as well). The lifts can be tricky to learn, so working with a coach is a good idea.
posted by medusa at 1:19 PM on October 31, 2009


There's no contest. If you do deadlifts and cleans you will see and feel your traps for days after your workouts.
posted by holympus at 6:27 PM on October 31, 2009


Power cleans! For trap strength, power cleans are even better than standard cleans. Since you are only dropping a short way before catching the bar, the initial 'pull' part of the movement has to be more explosive. You also should deadlift.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 3:15 PM on November 1, 2009


If you can hold a squeeze at the top of your deadlift, you should put more plates on the bar. Creasy Boy linked a good article, but Wendler's seminal work on all things traps, is this article.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 9:46 AM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


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