Trap Exercises

Trap exercises and workout

4 trap exercises to make those peaks massive

Well built trap muscles make you look good from all angles.  From the front your neck looks huge. From the side, you can see the peak sticking through your shirts. From the back…well, it speaks for itself. Getting traps to the point where other guys think twice before saying anything to you takes work. Not just the , “Oh I’ll do a set of shrugs today” work, but more like the, “Holy hell I can’t see straight because I just blasted my traps so hard” work.

To many, having a separate day for just trap exercises may sound ridiculous or like overkill. However, I worked my traps for years rather lackadaisically to no avail. It was only when I started doing workouts that forced huge amounts of blood into the muscle cells of my traps, that I started to see some serious growth.

Common mistakes with trap exercises

One of the most common mistakes I see when guys are trying to get big traps is stacking on too much weight with very little range of motion. Sure it feels good to stack a few plates on each end of the bar or to grab those 100+ pounds dumbbells and do some shrugs. However, if you are barely moving your shoulders or if you are using your legs and ANY other muscle group to cheat your reps, you’re simply cheating your gains.

Trap exercises take a solid mind-muscle connection. You really need to think about pulling JUST with the trap muscles and not any other muscle group. Proper form for shrugs should include not using your legs to bounce or cheat the weight to the top of the range of motion. Instead, you should hold the rest of your body perfectly still while you pull the bar upwards, using only your trap muscles.

As far as range of motion goes, you should attempt to pull your shoulders to your ears – literally. Moving your shoulders an inch upwards because your ego is too big for the weight does nothing except waste your time. Your recruitment of muscle fibers is minimal, at best. When working your trap muscles you want to recruit and fully exhaust as many of the muscle fibers as possible.  This simply can’t be done with a tiny range of motion.

The “DO’s” of trap exercises

  1. DO use a full range of motion, pulling your shoulders as high as humanly possible
  2. DO use a higher rep range. Somewhere in the 10-15 rep range (or higher)
  3. DO incorporate super sets
  4. DO incorporate drop sets
  5. DO take as little rest as possible in between sets. 1 minute is a good rule of thumb

Two must-have items for this trap workout

Lots of guys are against wrist wraps/straps when doing trap exercises. I on the other hand, am a huge fan. As the weight gets heavier, I want to continue to work my traps and not worry about my grip. Usually as I get past the 315lb mark for shrugs, I’ll throw on my wraps so that I can focus on ONLY recruiting the trap muscles and not worry about my grip.

The other must-have item for this trap workout are BCAAs.  This is a very intense workout and BCAA powder in your shaker cup will help prevent you going catabolic.  I’ve included links to both of these products from reputable sellers on, below. I am an advocate of online shopping, especially at since the prices are incredibly low compared to anywhere else I’ve found. I NEVER shop at retail stores for my gear or for my supplements. It’s a waste of money.

T-Reks’ trap exercises for massive traps

Barbell shrugs

Trap exercises and workouts


Set Drop Set Reps Weight Rest
Warm up No 20 135 lbs 1 minute
1 No 15 225 lbs 1 minute
2 No 15 315 lbs 1 minute
3 No 12 405 lbs 1 minute
4 Yes 12 405 lbs None
Yes 12 315 lbs None
Yes 12 225 lbs None
Yes 12 135 lbs None

Wide grip upright rows super set with wide grip cable rows

When performing the upright row, be sure to pull the bar above your shoulders. This will recruit your traps more than the delts. Also, you won’t have to use massive amounts of weight for this exercise. I use between 25lbs on each end of the bar to 45 lbs on each end.  The rep range is rather high and the focus is on strict form, NOT on cheating the reps. Additionally, when doing the wide grip cable row, flare your elbows upwards and pull the bar up towards your face. You have to really think about using your traps on this exercise and you won’t have to move the entire gym to feel the burn and force massive amounts of blood into your trap muscles.


Trap exercises - upright rowUpright row, starting position
Trap exercises and workouts using upright rowsUpright row, position 2
Big trapsWide grip cable row, starting position
big trap exercises, cable rowWide grip cable row, position 2



Set Super Set Reps Weight Rest
1 Yes: Upright rows 20 95 lbs None
Yes: Wide grip cable rows 20 135 lbs 1 minute
2 Yes: Upright rows 18 95 lbs None
Yes: Wide grip cable rows 18 135 lbs 1 minute
3 Yes: Upright rows 15 95 lbs None
Yes: Wide grip cable rows 15 135 lbs 1 minute
 4 Yes: Upright rows 15 95 lbs None
Yes: Wide grip cable rows 15 135 lbs 1 minute

Dumbbell Shrugs

dumbbell shrugs are exercises for big traps


Set Drop Set Reps Weight Rest
1 No 15 120 lbs 1 minute
2 No 15 120 lbs 1 minute
3 No 15 120 lbs 1 minute
4 Yes 12 120 lbs None
Yes 12 80 lbs None
Yes 15 60 lbs None
Yes 15 40 lbs None

Closing thoughts on these trap exercises

If you follow this trap workout to a “T”, and use the recommended rest period in between sets, you should be pretty fried by the time you are done. Since this isn’t a particularly long workout, I’ll usually choose to work calves on this day as well.

Download the printable workout sheet below

Printable Workout Sheet

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