12 Best Mid trap exercises for Muscle Mass and Strength

You have come to the right place if you are looking for the best mid-trap exercises to build stronger and larger traps. Get an incredibly muscular body with developed trapezius muscles.

Trap training is so much more than just endless shrug variations. To really build up the traps, you should try to hit all its aspects: the upper, lower, and middle trap

Although every trap exercise hits all three muscle fibers to some degree, certain ones are better than others at stressing the different Muscle fibers because of the biomechanics involved. It’s important to strengthen the middle part of the trapezius muscle, and these mid trap exercises can help you do it.

In this article, we will discuss the following:

We will provide you with a variety of methods to train the mid-trap.

  • Bodyweight Mid-Trap Exercises
  • Middle trap exercises with dumbbells
  • Barbell Middle Traps Exercises
  • Mid-Trap Workout With Cable

What is the Middle Traps

The trapezius aka trap is a large muscle in your back. It starts at the base of your neck and extends across your shoulders and down to the middle of your back. It looks like a trapezoid (a shape with four sides, two that are parallel).

Healthcare providers categorize the trapezius into three areas, and each area helps you with a specific kind of movement. Together, the three parts of the trapezius help you move your head, stand up straight, bend or twist your torso and raise your arms.

As mentioned above, the trapezius muscle is divided into 3 areas:

trapezius muscle workout

The upper portion of the trapezius influences the overall roundness of a physique’s frame. While the middle and lower portions contribute to back thickness.

The middle trap, as the name implies, is the mid-portion of the trapezius muscle. As it is located in the middle of the muscle, it is responsible for a great deal of the muscle’s thickness and size.

If you’ve ever seen big dudes with massive traps, e.g., a professional wrestler Brock lesnar, you’ll find that much of the thickness found in their traps is a result of well-developed mid-traps.

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How to Train Middle Trap

The Mid-Trap runs across the shoulders and helps to stabilize your shoulder movement. These muscles respond best to high repetition and can be effectively worked with lighter weights.

The middle traps are most active during scapula adduction (squeezing your shoulder blades together), as well as upward rotation.

Therefore, exercises such as bent-over rows, seated rows (which involve scapula adduction), and Y raise (which involve upward rotation) will target the middle trapezius effectively. Any exercise that involves squeezing your shoulder blades together will directly work your middle traps, and rows do exactly that.

The middle traps should be worked sufficiently for growth with many of the big compound back exercises. Actually, the middle traps are a primary mover for most of the best back exercises, like rows, so there really is no need to spend too much additional time trying to just hone in on the middle traps.

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12 Best Middle Trap Exercises

Now, let’s get into the best mid-trap exercises for mass and strength, using various types of fitness equipment.

We have created the middle trap exercises into many sections, such as: Bodyweight, Dumbbells, Barbell & Machine, Cable Middle trap Exercises.

The best variation of traps exercise to build for Huge Shoulders and Massive Traps

Bodyweight Middle Trap Exercises

1. Inverted Row

The inverted row (bodyweight rows) is one of the best bodyweight middle trap that you can easily do at home.

The inverted row puts your body in a horizontal position, making it easier to perform. It also works the back and shoulder muscles from a different angle and improves scapular retraction.

But, you can also perform the inverted row at home by lying under a chair, holding the chair’s sides, and pulling yourself up.

Inverted Row

Execution Technique

  1. Adjust the height of the chair and bar so that it’s a little higher than arm’s length from the floor.
  2. Lie under the bar with your legs and body straight.
  3. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip that’s a little wider than shoulder width.
  4. Keeping your legs and body straight, exhale as you pull your chest up to the bar. Hold for a count of two and squeeze your back muscles.
  5. Inhale as you lower your body until your arms and shoulders are fully extended. Repeat.


  • Do not allow your butt to sag. Flex your tummy, squeeze your butt cheeks, and keep your body stiff from your head to your toe.
  • Do not allow your elbows to flail. Grab the bar with your hands slightly closer together and keeping your elbows at an angle to your body, similar to doing a bench-press.
Know More: 20 Best Trap Workout and Exercises for Mass and Strength

2. Pull-Up

The pull-up is another good option for training the middle trap muscles. It builds upper-body strength and targets your back and arms.

The wide-grip pull-up is harder to perform than a standard pull-up because your hands will be further away from the center of your body, which makes the exercise more difficult. 

Wide Grip Pull Up

Execution Technique

  1. Using an overhand grip, grab on to a pull-up bar with your hands spaced wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended and your chest high, while exaggerating the arch in your lower back.
  3. Pull yourself up by squeezing your shoulder blades together and contracting your lats until your chin passes the bar.
  4. Hold the contraction at the top for a second before slowly lowering yourself back to the starting position.


  • To decrease bicep involvement, use a thumbless grip.
  • Go full range of motion and keep form correct.
  • Avoid jerky movements and keep them controlled.

Dumbbell Mid Traps Exercises

3. Incline Y-Raise

Y Raises are a great and easy-to-do shoulder stability exercise that targets both the rotator cuff muscles and your mid and lower traps.

Although the Y Raise is commonly performed on an incline bench, it can be modified to suit your needs and performed in a variety of different ways: standing, on the floor, flat or incline bench, or even a Swiss ball.

Incline Dumbbell Y-Raise

Execution Technique

  1. Lie facedown on a flat bench with your chin past the end of the bench.
  2. Hold two light dumbbells or weight plates.
  3. Lift both dumbbells up as high as you can while comprising a letter Y with your arms and torso.
  4. Hold this position for two seconds before returning the dumbbells to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  1. Raise arms up in a slow, controlled manner.
  2. Be careful not to use too much weight, as it is easy to injure your deltoids.

4. Bent Over Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Bent over raises are an excellent exercise to isolate and work specifically on rear deltoid and mid-trap muscles. For complete shoulder muscle development, bent-over raises are a must-do.

Thus, the exercise hit specifically the rear delt and middle trap head by isolating it. This exercise can be performed in both a standing and a seated position. Prefer the seated version as it calls for strict movement.

Lateral Bent over row

Execution Technique

  1. Sit at the end of a bench with a pair of dumbbells.
  2. Bend forward and let the dumbbells hang on your sides.
  3. Lift the dumbbells, raising them on your sides to a level slightly upper more than your shoulders.
  4. Now lower the dumbbells back to your sides.


  • Your arms should be parallel to your shoulders.
  • Keep strict form to isolate the rear delts.

5. Dumbbell Bent Over Row

If you are looking to strengthen the upper back and add massive muscle to the middle trap region, then bent over dumbbell rows is the exercise.

It is one of the best exercises you can do for the middle trapezius, as they allow for maximum range of motion and relatively heavy loads.

Dumbbell Bent Over Row

Execution Technique

  1. Stand with a narrow stance and a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip.
  2. Bend your torso forward at an angle of 45 degrees to the floor with knees slightly bent.
  3. Now use the back and raise the dumbbell until it touches the abdominal region and not the chest region as it reduces back muscle contraction.
  4. Slowly lower the dumbbell, keeping it in control to the starting position.


  • Do not use more weight than you can handle. This fatigues your spinal erectors and says goodbye to form.
  • Keep movement always under control, without letting gravity take you down faster.

Middle Trap Exercises With Barbell

6. Behind-the-Back Barbell Shrug

The barbell behind-the-back shrug is an exercise targeting the traps. Having the bar behind you helps keep your shoulders pulled up and back, rather than rounded forward.

It is popular in strength and muscle-focused upper-body training and is often trained on a shoulder day.

Behind the Back Barbell Shrug

Execution Technique

  1. Stand while holding a barbell with an overhand grip behind your thighs.
  2. Both your hands and your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
  3. Lift your shoulders up toward your ears as high as possible while keeping your arms straight.
  4. Hold the contraction for a second before lowering the bar back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


  • Focus on lifting the weight with your traps and not your biceps.
  • Pausing at the top of the barbell shrug makes the exercise more challenging and you’ll get more out of it.
  • Do not roll your shoulders as this can lead to a shoulder injury.

7. Bent Over Barbell Rows

To ensure your middle traps are getting activated adequately, make sure you are using a full range of motion by fully protracting and retracting your shoulder blades.

Make sure you use your middle back muscles and not just your biceps to pull the weight back. The movement should first occur at the shoulder blades, not the arms.

Bent Over Barbell Rows

Execution Technique

  1. Stand with a narrow stance and grab a bar with an overhand grip.
  2. Bend your torso forward at an angle of 45 degrees to the floor with knees slightly bend and let the bar hang in front of you.
  3. Now, use the back and raise the bar until it touches the abdominal region and not the chest region, as it reduces back muscle contraction.
  4. Slowly lower the bar under control to the starting position.


  • Do not use more weight than you can handle. This fatigues your spinal erectors and says goodbye to form.
  • Exhale on pushing movement and inhale when returning to the starting position.
  • Hold a neutral spine throughout the movement to prevent injury.

8. Standing Barbell Rear Delt Row

Standing barbell rear delt row is a free weight exercise that primarily targets the rear deltoid and trap, and to a lesser degree, it also targets the biceps and shoulders.

If you haven’t tried this exercise before, load the barbell with a reasonable amount of weight, prioritizing an amount that allows you to stick to proper form rather than trying to lift heavy.

Standing Barbell Rear Delt Row

Execution Technique

  1. Stand up straight while holding a barbell using a wide (higher than shoulder width) and overhand (palms facing your body) grip.
  2. With slightly bent knees, bend over at the waist so that your chest is parallel with the floor.
  3. While keeping the upper arms perpendicular to the torso, pull the barbell up towards your upper chest as you squeeze the rear delt.
  4. Slowly go back to the initial position as you breathe in. Repeat for the recommended number of repetitions.


  • Refrain from using your biceps to do the work. Focus on targeting the rear delts, the arms should only act as hooks.
  • Focus on the form before you go for a heavyweight.
  • Maintaining the right posture while working out is extremely important.

9. T Bar Row

T bar row is a power exercise to build middle back muscles. Check the correct execution technique and blast your back muscles. It also works on the outer lats when done with a narrower grip.

T bar row is done on a T bar machine or placing a barbell at the corner. It is a tough exercise, but building a strong back is a must to develop a quality physique, stay injury-free, and back pain-free for life.

T Bar Row

Execution Technique

  1. Standing on a T bar machine, grab its handles with an overhand grip. Keep your feet bit apart and knees slightly bent.
  2. Bend at the hips and keep your back arched throughout the movement.
  3. Lift the bar until the bar touches your chest keeping the back straight.
  4. Now slowly lower the bar until it nearly touches the ground.


  • Exhale while you exert.
  • Avoid hunchback bending as it leads to Injury.
  • Go complete range of motion.

Cable Mid Trap Exercises

10. Face Pull

Face pull is another great exercise for your cable trap workout. It is a cable machine exercise that primarily targets the rear deltoid and traps to a lesser degree and also targets the biceps, triceps. Use a cable pulley machine to pull the weight straight toward your forehead.

This type of trap exercise and workout prevents muscular imbalance and builds overall shoulder strength.

Face Pull

Execution Technique

  1. Grab the ends of the rope attachment using a neutral grip (palms facing each other) and slightly lean back.
  2. Pull the rope toward your face as you spread the ends of the rope, so they end up on the sides of your ears just above your shoulders in the finish position.
  3. Hold this position for a second as you squeeze your shoulder blades together, contracting rear delts and middle traps as hard as possible.
  4. Then slowly return the rope to the start position.


  • Stand straight with feet in a comfortable, balanced stance.
  • Be sure to exhale when pulling weight toward your face.
  • Think about trying to pinch your shoulder blades as tight as possible when pulling weight toward your face.
  • Your upper arms should be straight out to your sides with elbows bent.

11. Seated Cable Rows

Seated Cable Rows is an excellent exercise to build middle back muscles and this works on mid and lowers lats as well. It can be done with wide and narrow grips.

Seated Cable Rows

Execution Technique

  1. Sit on a seated cable pulley rowing machine with legs slightly bent and feet supported against the crossbar.
  2. Take hold of the handles with your arms extended and back stretched.
  3. Pull the handles so that they come as close to the lower chest/abdomen as possible.
  4. Thrust your chest out while pulling with your body in upright position.
  5. Slowly return the handle to the starting position.


  • Pause briefly when the handles are close to the chest and squeeze your upper back muscles, bringing the scapulae closer.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent to avoid knee and lower back pressure.
  • Keep your upper back stationary, don’t move your upper back, back, and forth.

12. Cable Upright Row

Finally, if you’re looking for one more effective cable middle trap exercise, try the cable upright row.

Upright rows are an exercise that nearly everyone can do using a wide variety of grip widths.

Cable machines keep tension on the muscles throughout the entire range of motion, ultimately increasing muscle activation and hypertrophy.

Cable Upright Row

Execution Technique

  1. Attach a straight bar to a low cable pulley. Grab the bar using a shoulder-width or wider overhand grip.
  2. Stand close to the pulley with your body upright, your shoulders pulled back.
  3. Exhale as you pull the bar up the front of your body until it reaches the level of your lower or middle chest.
  4. Do not pull the bar up any higher. Hold for a count of two. Inhale as you lower the bar to the starting position.


  • Bend slightly at the knees and stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your shoulders back, chest out, and body upright.

5 Best Mid Trap Stretches

Stretches for the middle trapezius are a great way to relieve neck, shoulder, upper and middle back pain. 

Stress, posture, and work habits are contributing to an increase in the prevalence of pain and tight trapezius muscles.

Having super tight middle trapezius muscles can result in neck, shoulder, and upper back pain, as well as tension headaches. It’s therefore helpful to know how to stretch your traps.

There are numerous ways to perform trapezius stretches, and here you will find five of the best trapezius stretches. These stretches can be performed in a variety of positions to stretch the different parts of the muscle.

  1. Child’s Pose with side reaches
  2. Ear to shoulder
  3. Chin Tucks
  4. Tennis-Ball Massage
  5. Cat-Cow pose

These stretches will help you get rid of tight traps faster and get back to your daily activities. Follow the trap strengthening exercises along with the trap stretch for toned muscles.

Add Mid Trap Exercises Into Your Workout Routine

They can be incorporated into your workout routine in a variety of ways. Here are some options:

  1. As a standalone exercise: Do on 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
  2. As part of a shoulder workout: Do them along with other shoulder exercises.
  3. As part of a full-body workout: Do them with other compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.

Sample Workout Routine

1. Shoulder-Focused Workout Routine

Rear Delt Fly410-12
Seated Shoulder Press38-10
Lateral Raises312-15
Front Raises310-12
Face Pulls312-15

2. Upper Body Strength And Definition Routine

Barbell Rows48-10
Dumbbell Bench Press38-10
Seated Cable Rows312-15
Triceps Pushdowns310-12

3. Full Body Strength And Stability Routine

Bent-Over Rows38-10
Machine Rear Delt Fly312-15
Incline Dumbbell Curl38-10
Plank330 sec

Frequently Asked Questions

Cause of weak middle trapezius?

If your middle trapezius is weak, you are likely to have rounded shoulders. This is actually really common because so much of what we do hunches our bodies forward, such as sitting at a computer, sitting on the couch, lying on our side at night in bed, and so on.

If it is functionally weak, you may experience shoulder pain when hanging the laundry, putting dishes away in high cabinets, or when walking the dog.

How to strengthen the weak middle trap?

There are some good exercises you can try at home or at the gym to strengthen the weak middle trap muscle, and should be combined with a push exercise and a squat for general strength gains. Strength exercise to try at home is a row using a resistance band, inverted row and push-ups.

How do you strengthen your middle traps?

In order to build bigger, stronger middle traps, you should add the above-mentioned exercises to your upper body training sessions. Mid-trap muscles can be developed through common exercises such as seated rows and Y-raises, which involve pulling the shoulder blades together.

Bodyweight exercises for mid-traps

There are many bodyweight exercises you can do at home to build your middle traps. Try Inverted Row, pull-ups and Y-Raise.

How Can I Build My Middle Trapezius At Home?

There are a lot of exercises you can do at home to build your mid-traps if you invest in a good set of dumbbells. Try bent over dumbbell lateral raise, Y-Raise and Dumbbell Bent Over Row.


Big traps are one of the best ways to signal to the world that you’re no slouch in the gym. Beyond making you look better in a t-shirt, developed traps come into play on nearly every upper-body exercise in one form or another.

Stay Fit, live a Happy and Healthy Life.


  • Schoenfeld, Brad MSc, CSCS; Kolber, Morey J PT, PhD, CSCS; Haimes, Jonathan E BS, CSCS: The Upright Row: Implications for Preventing Subacromial Impingement. Strength and Conditioning Journal: October 2011 – Volume 33 – Issue 5 – p 25-28
  • Ronai, Peter MS, CSCS, RCEP: Exercise Modifications and Strategies to Enhance Shoulder Function. Strength and Conditioning Journal: August 2005 – Volume 27 – Issue 4 – p 36-45
  • McAllister M, Schilling B, Hammond K, Weiss L, Farney T. Effect of grip width on electromyographic activity during the upright row. J Strength Cond PMID: 22362088 DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31824f23ad
  •  Lorenzetti S, Dayer R, Pluss M, List R. Pulling exercises for strength training and rehabilitation: movements and loading conditions. J Funct Morphol Kinesiol. 2017;2(3):33. doi:10.3390/jfmk2030033

18 Best Trap Exercises To Build Mass And Strength

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