Barbell Trap Exercises To Build Bigger Trapezius Muscles

The trapezius works to stabilize your shoulders and upper back. To maintain good posture and avoid back pain, it’s important to keep the trapezius strong.

The weak trap can increase the risk of injury during other exercises, such as a bench press, overhead press. So, let’s have a closer look at how to strengthen and develop your traps with these best barbell trap exercises.

Although every barbell 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.

In this article, we will discuss the following

  • What the trap muscles are,
  • How to target it,
  • How it contributes to greater performance
  • Best barbell trap exercises.

Trapezius Muscle Anatomy and Its Function

The trapezius aka trap muscle is a large muscle in your back. Providers call it the trapezius because of its shape. It looks like a trapezoid (a shape with four sides, two that are parallel).

Healthcare providers divide the trapezius into three areas. 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

6 Best Barbell Trap Exercises

Adding barbell trap exercises to your workout routine is a good idea.

1. Barbell Shrug

The shrug is one of the simplest and easy trap exercises to perform. You can do the shrug either using a dumbbell, barbell, or smith machine, but the barbell variation is the classic variation to build massive traps.

The Barbell Shrug is one of the best exercises to build bigger and stronger trap muscles. This trap-specific exercise can be done extremely heavily, which will help you strengthen your traps for back poses.

It is one of the best isolation exercises for the trapezius muscle, especially the upper trap.

Barbell Shrug

How To Do Shrug With Barbell

  1. Stand with feet placed shoulder-width apart, knee slightly bent, and core stable.
  2. Grip the barbell with your hands facing downwards, in a pronated grip.
  3. Raise your shoulders without bending the elbows as far as possible, getting them closer to your ears.
  4. Hold the contraction and squeeze for a brief second.
  5. In a controlled and stable manner, lower the weight back down to the starting position.


  • Go as high as possible, but limit momentum and excessive jerking or bouncing of the weight.
  • Go full range. Move only the shoulders and keep the rest of the body steady.

2. Barbell Upright Row

The Upright Row is a great exercise to build big Trapezius muscles and create a deltopectoral separation. You can use a smith machine, free weights, or a cable to perform upright rows.

The barbell upright row is one of the best exercises for building bigger and stronger middle and lower trap muscles.

Barbell upright rows can be done with both narrow grips and wider ones.

  • The narrow grip focuses on the trapezius,
  • And the wider focuses on the entire shoulder girdle.
  • Moreover, the wider grip allows some cheating movement, thereby allowing you to lift more weight.
Barbell Upright Row

How To Do Barbell Upright Row

  1. Hold a bar with a narrow overhand grip and let it hang in front of you.
  2. Lift the bar and get it as close as possible to the chin, using your arms and elevating your shoulders to squeeze your trapezius muscles.
  3. Now, lower the bar under controlled motion until it comes back to its starting position.
  4. Repeat for desired reps.


  • Focus on keeping your elbows higher than your forearms.
  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Keep your back straight.

3. Behind-the-Back Barbell Shrug

The barbell behind-the-back shrug is one of the best trap exercises for 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

How To Do Behind The-Back Barbell Shrug

  1. Stand while holding a barbell with an overhand grip behind your thighs. Both your hands and your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift your shoulders up toward your ears as high as possible while keeping your arms straight.
  3. Hold the contraction for a second before lowering the bar back to the starting position.
  4. 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.
Know More: Best Upper Trap Exercises For Muscle Mass and Strength

4. 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

How To Do Standing Barbell Rear Delt Row

  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.
  5. 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.
Know More: 12 Best Mid-Trap Exercises For Muscle Mass And Strength

5. Barbell Lying Rear Delt Row

Barbell Lying Rear Delt Row is a strength exercise that works your lateral deltoids and traps.

When done correctly, it can effectively target your shoulders and upper body. You should add a barbell trap workout to your exercise regimen.

Barbell Lying Rear Delt Row

How To Do Barbell Lying Rear Delt Row

  1. Lie down on an incline bench with a barbell and hand extended out in front of you.
  2. Slowly pull the barbell up until your elbows are just above your shoulders.
  3. Once you reach the final position, hold for a count and squeeze your muscles.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.


  • Remember to exhale while you exert.
  • The form is a very important part of this exercise.
  • Don’t just swing your arms. Keep controlled motion throughout the exercise.

6. Bent Over Barbell Rows

If you are looking to strengthen the upper back and add muscle to the upper back region, then bent over barbell rows are the best upper back exercise.

Spacing your hands shoulder-width apart or closer targets the central inner section of the lats, whereas a wider grip targets the outer lats.

Bent Over Barbell Rows

How To Do Bent Over Barbell Rows

  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.

Barbell Trap Exercises Benefits

Here are the benefits of a barbell trap exercises :

  • Barbell trap workouts are one of the best ways to increase strength and growth in the back and shoulders.
  • The barbell workout activates all major areas of the shoulders, making it excellent for upper body stability and conditioning. Shrugging and upright rowing frequently will improve your position without putting you at risk of injury.
  • Traps are difficult to build. There are only a few exercises that mainly work your traps. A barbell trap exercise works your shoulders as much as it works your traps.
  • When practised with proper form, barbell trap workouts can help build strength in your upper body stabilizer muscle groups, helping you stand up tall and keep your back straight.
  • Strengthening your traps increases the activation of your shoulder muscles, which in turn provides better support to your head and neck. Stronger traps can help reduce neck pain.

Add Barbell Trap 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 back workout: Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps along with other bicep exercises like the Deadlift and lats pulldown.
  3. As part of a full-body workout: Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps along with other compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.

1. Back Workout Routine

Pull Ups310-12
One Arm Dumbbell Row38-10
Barbell Row48-12
Barbell Upright Row38-12

2. Pull Workout Routine

Lats Pulldowns310-12
Dumbbell Spider Curl38-12
Barbell Shrugs38-12

Frequently Asked Question

How To Get Bigger Traps With Barbell

There are many great trap exercises you can do with a barbell to help you build bigger traps.

To build bigger, stronger traps, you should add the above-mentioned barbell exercises to your upper body training sessions.

Barbell shrugs and barbell upright rows can be used to build up the upper traps, and pulling the shoulder blades together can be used to build up the middle and lower traps.

To build big trap muscles, you need to have an intensive workout routine, which typically consists of about 2-3 exercises, including the upright row and shrugs.

You should perform this workout two times a week, with at least three days of rest between each workout.

Is it OK to train traps everyday?

No, it is not OK to train traps every day. Overtraining can lead to injuries and hinder progress. It’s usually recommended to rest for at least 48 hours between trap-focused workouts to let your muscles recover.

What exercise makes traps bigger?

There are many exercises that can help you build bigger traps, but some of the most effective include:

  1. Barbell Shrugs
  2. Dumbbell Shrugs
  3. Trap Bar Deadlifts
  4. Upright Rows
  5. Farmer’s Walks
  6. Face Pulls
  7. Y-raises

What is the king of trap exercises?

The barbell shrug is the king of trap exercises.


Big traps are a good way to show the world that you are an athlete.

In addition to making you look better in a t-shirt, developed traps play a role in nearly every upper-body exercise.


  1. Schoenfeld, Brad MSc, CSCS; Kolber, Morey J PT, PhD, CSCS; Haimes, Jonathan E BS, CSCS: The Upright Row: Implications for Preventing Subacromial ImpingementStrength and Conditioning Journal: October 2011 – Volume 33 – Issue 5 – p 25
  2. Cools AM, Witvrouw EE, Declercq GA, Danneels LA, Cambier DC. Scapular muscle recruitment patterns: Trapezius muscle latency with and without impingement symptoms. Am J Sports Med 31: 542–549, 2003.
  3. Int J Environ Res Public Health. Trapezius muscle timing during selected shoulder rehabilitation exercises. 2021 Jun 14;18(12):6444. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18126444.PMID: 34198674
  4. Effects of Lower Trapezius Strengthening Exercises on Pain, Dysfunction, Posture Alignment, Muscle Thickness and Contraction Rate in Patients with Neck Pain; Randomized Controlled Trial
  5. Selective recruitment of the lower fibers of the trapezius muscle.

15 Best Trap Exercises for Mass and Strength

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