If you want to look your back more defined, minimize the risk of shoulder injuries, and improve posture, you should train your trapezius muscles separately. You can do various trap exercises at home using your body weight and dumbbells.
I’ve shared twelve easy to advanced workouts that can help you bolster your trapezius muscles at home. Depending on your fitness goal, you can incorporate some of them into your workout regime.
The Trapezius Muscle and Its Functions
Traps are crucial upper body muscles that extend from below the skull to run down the neck and across the shoulders and then continue down the spine and together to form a trapezoid shape; that is why it is called trapezius. It has three parts which are generally known as the upper, middle, and lower traps.
Having sturdy traps improve your posture, reduce the risk of shoulder pain, and enhance your lifting performance.
Top 6 Bodyweight Trapezius Exercises at Home
If you exercise at home using your own body weight, you can try some of the following exercises to forge your upper, middle, and lower traps.
1. Lying Y Raises
|Trapezius and Rhomboid
The lying Y raise is an easy way to hit your traps and upper back at home. It requires you to lie prone on the floor and lift your arms by contracting your trapezius muscles.
It won’t build your muscles but will improve your posture and shoulder mobility, and it is worth doing for your traps, especially if you train at home.
How to do it:
- Lie on the mat on your stomach with your arms straight in front of you in a “Y” shape.
- Slightly lift your upper chest off the floor; that’s your starting position.
- Raise your arms off the floor as high as possible, so your trap muscles engage.
- Pause for a couple of seconds, and then lower your arms to the start. That’s one rep.
- Do as many reps as possible.
2. Pike Push-Up
|Shoulder and Traps
The pike pushup is one of the best bodyweight exercises that fire up your delts and trap muscles simultaneously. It also engages core muscles and helps you improve upper body strength. The best thing is you can do it anytime, anywhere, as it doesn’t need any equipment.
How to do a pike pushup:
- Get into an inverted V position by raising your hips up and placing your hands on the ground in front of you, and keeping your feet firmly on the floor. Make sure your back is also straight.
- Bring your head toward the ground as low as possible.
- Retracting traps, press back to return to the start. That’s one repetition.
- Try to do as many sets and reps as possible.
A Note for Beginners: If you’re a beginner, you should perform kneeling pushups to scale up your strength for doing pike pushups.
3. Wall Handstand Pushup
The wall handstand pushup is an advanced bodyweight calisthenics exercise. It works on various muscles throughout the upper body, particularly shoulders and traps, and helps develop balance, strength, and flexibility.
How to do it:
- Get your feet on the wall and stand on your hands. Make sure your hands are shoulder-width apart.
- Tighten your core, glutes, and thighs, and maintain an upright posture. That’s the start.
- Bending your elbows, lower your head toward the floor as low as possible.
- Contracting your shoulder blades, extend your arms until they are straight. That’s one rep.
- Perform as many reps and sets as you like.
4. Inverted Row
|Pull-up bar/dip-station/firm dinner table
Whether you’re a beginner or exercising for a while, you can incorporate an inverted row in your workout regime to bolster your trapezius muscle and improve the shape of your upper body.
However, you need a setup to perform the inverted row. If you’ve gym access, you can easily do it with the help of a pullup bar or smith machine, but if you train at home, you’ll have to do it with a firm dinner table or mini bar dip-station.
If you have access to the equipment, follow the below steps to do that or move on to another exercise.
- Get under the table (sturdy and long), grip the edge firmly and extend your arms to let your torso hang below the table.
- Keep your legs straight, brace your abdominal muscles, and maintain a flat back. That’s the start.
- Pull your torso toward the table until you feel a good contraction in your trapezius muscles.
- Pause for a second and return to the start. This is your one rep. Go for as many as you like.
5. Standing Sheet Row
|Traps and Rear Delt
The standing towel pull or row is a great exercise for trapezius muscle development. It is effective and easy to perform, and people of all ages can incorporate this exercise into their bodyweight workout program. It only requires a bath towel or bed sheet.
How to do it:
- Grab a bedsheet and wrap it around the pillar.
- Hold the sheet ends firmly with a neutral grip.
- Extend your arms and lean your torso back.
- Pull your face toward the pillar until your elbows are bent.
- Squeezing your traps, pause for a moment, and return to the start.
- Go for three sets of ten to 12 reps each.
6 Wall Slide
|Traps and Rear Delt
If you have a weak shoulder or can’t lift weights, try this bodyweight wall slide exercise. The wall slide is an effective exercise to improve scapular alignment and strengthen upper and middle traps, as revealed in a study published by the Journal of Physical Therapy Science.1 Kim TH, Lim JY. The effects of wall slide and sling slide exercises on scapular alignment and pain in subjects with scapular downward rotation. J Phys Ther Sci. 2016 Sep;28(9):2666-2669. doi: 10.1589/jpts.28.2666. Epub 2016 Sep 29. PMID: 27799716; PMCID: PMC5080198.
It does not increase muscle mass, but it will surely improve mobility and posture and reduce shoulder pain.
Here are the steps to do the wall slide exercise
- Stand straight in the hip-width stance with your back resting on the wall and your arms lifted above the head.
- The shoulder joint is abducted and externally rotated to 90°, and the elbows bend to 90 degrees. Make sure your fingers point upward toward the ceiling. That’s the starting position.
- Lift your arms up and down, engaging the lower trap without focusing on the upper trap.
- Do it as many times as you like.
Best Dumbbell Traps Workouts to Build Muscles at Home
Dumbbells can be highly effective and helpful as you can use them anywhere and anytime. They allow a greater range of motion compared to other exercise equipment.
1. Incline Dumbbell Y Raises
The Dumbbell Y raises work on shoulders as well as traps. It is one of the best dumbbell workouts you can do to strengthen your upper and middle trap muscle at home as well as in the gym.
How to perform Incline Dumbbell Y raises
- Lie on a 30-degree incline bench on your stomach, and keep your neck at the end of the bench. Hold one dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip. And hold your arms straight downward. That’s your starting position.
- Now, keeping your chest on the bench, raise your arms upward to form a “Y” shape. At the top of the lift, your trap muscles got engaged. Hold in this position for a couple of seconds, and then return your arms to the lower position. That’s your one repetition.
- Do as many reps as you can in three to four sets.
2. Incline Dumbbell T Raises
If you want to target your trapezius muscle from a different angle, you can include an incline variation of dumbbell T raises in your trap workout routine.
How to do incline Dumbbell T raises
- Lie on an incline bench (30-degree incline), holding one dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip.
- Keep your arms straight downward (besides the bench) and raise your arms out to the sides until your traps get fully activated. Hold for a second and then return to the starting position. That’s your one repetition.
- Do three to four sets of 10 to 15 reps.
3. Bent-over Lateral Raises
Besides the rear delt, the dumbbell bent-over lateral raises also work on the trapezius muscle.
Steps to perform bent-over lateral raises
- Stand straight in the shoulder-width stance, holding one dumbbell in each hand with your palm facing your body.
- Lean forward and keep your arms straight under your torso. That’s the starting position.
- Keeping your chest up, raise the dumbbells out to the sides until your rear delt and trap muscles are engaged. Pause for a second and then return to the start. That’s your one repetition. Do as many reps as you like.
4. Dumbbell Upright Row
The trapezius muscle also has three different parts, and the dumbbell upright row works on the upper trap.
How to do the dumbbell upright row:
- Stand upright in the hip-width stance, holding one dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip, and keep the dumbbells close to your body and in front of your thighs with your palms facing your body. That’s your starting position.
- Pull the dumbbells upward toward your neck, so your upper trap muscles get engaged.
- Hold for a second or two at the top, and then return the dumbbell to the start. That’s one rep. Do three sets of 10 to 15 reps each.
- Keep your elbows flared out to the sides during the movement.
You can also do this exercise using a barbell and weight plate. If you don’t have any equipment, try the bodyweight isometric upright row for the trapezius muscle.
5. Incline Dumbbell Shrug
The shrug is basically a shoulder workout; however, doing an incline variation of the dumbbell shrug may help you strengthen your traps and build muscle.
How to do incline dumbbell shrug
- Lie on your stomach on a 30 to 45-degree incline bench, holding one dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip, arms straight downward at your sides with your palm facing each other. That’s your starting position.
- Raise your shoulder blades without bending your elbows as high as possible so your trap muscles activate.
- Hold for a couple of seconds, and then relax your arms to the start. That’s one rep.
- Do three sets of 10 to 12 reps each.
6. Incline Dumbbell Face Pulls
- Holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands, lie on an incline bench (30 degrees), and keep your toes on the floor.
- Let your arms hang straight below you with your palms facing inwards. That’s your starting position.
- Maintaining a tight core, pull the dumbbells outward and upward until they reach your forehead height.
- Pause for a sec and then return to the starting position. That’s your one repetition.
- Make sure to engage your traps during the movement.
15-Minute Bodyweight Traps Workout at Home (No Equipment)
You can follow this workout if you want to forge your trap muscles at home without equipment. This routine includes four exercises that will take 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Give this workout a try and see if it works for you.
|Lying Y Raises
|Wall Handstand Pushup
30-Minute Mixed Workout to Forge Your Trapezius Muscle at Home
If you have a set of dumbbells at home, try the below workout to strengthen and tone your trapezius muscles. This workout includes a mixture of bodyweight and dumbbell exercises and will take 20 to 30 minutes to finish.
|Wall Handstand Pushup
|Incline Dumbbell Shrug
|Incline Dumbbell Face Pull
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you build traps without weights?
Yes, you can strengthen your traps at home with multiple bodyweight workouts, such as pike pushups, handstand pushups, Y raises, inverted rows, and wall slides. They are not as effective as weighted exercises but surely improve your trapezius strength and mobility.
Should you train the trapezius muscle separately?
Trapezius muscles are activated during various shoulder strengthening exercises. However, it’s best to train them separately if you want sturdy traps, healthy shoulders, and a sculpted back.
How often should you do trap workouts?
Working out your traps once a week is enough. But make sure you perform different traps workout each training week. For example, bodyweight traps workout in the first week and dumbbell trap exercises in the next week.
- 1Kim TH, Lim JY. The effects of wall slide and sling slide exercises on scapular alignment and pain in subjects with scapular downward rotation. J Phys Ther Sci. 2016 Sep;28(9):2666-2669. doi: 10.1589/jpts.28.2666. Epub 2016 Sep 29. PMID: 27799716; PMCID: PMC5080198.