Do we have to work on the trapezius? Good question ! You should know that most bodybuilding exercises that target the back or shoulders indirectly solicit the trapezius muscles. The trapezoids participate more or less in the movement whether on pulling exercises or rowing, such as the straight bar row, the floor pulling or the chin row.
They also intervene on deadlift or squat exercises.
If you have sloping shoulders, avoid over-developing the upper trapezius muscles because thickening this area can harm the impression of shoulder width.
Long series or short series?
The trapezius react rather with long series. They are like the forearms, calves or abdominals that are quite tough because they are used a lot throughout the day.
If the short series with heavy weights do not make your trapezius fatter, do not hesitate to reduce the load by working in long series. Personally, I find that trapezes feel better in sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.
For the number of series, 3 or 4 are enough, making sure to work in maximum amplitude – rise well in the high position and descend as low as possible -, with a fluid movement, without violent jerks.
Bars or machines?
It is possible to work the trapezius with the straight bar or the dumbbells. In practice, these exercises are troublesome because the barbell or dumbbells rub against the thighs. There are also special bars and shrug machines to avoid this problem.
The recommended bar grip is shoulder width, but it is possible to grip wider or tighter for the exercise.
Should you wrap your shoulders?
Rolling the shoulders back when doing shrugs is of no benefit to trapezes. This solicits and attacks the muscles of the rotator cuff. The shoulder joint because of its great mobility is quite vulnerable, no need to take unnecessary risks! Do your sets of shrugs by simply raising and lowering the bar.
The rotator cuff is formed by four muscles of the shoulder joint:
- Subscapularis: adduction of the arm and internal rotator of the arm.
- Supraspinatus: arm abduction.
- Infraspinatus: adduction of the arm, external rotator of the arm.
- Teres minor: adductor, external rotator of the humerus.
The trapezius are formed by two triangular muscles that run from the cervical and dorsal spine to the shoulder. It is one of the largest muscles in the human body. It is made up of three bundles:
– The upper beam goes from the neck to the shoulder, more particularly from the zone which goes from the occiput (the bone at the base of the skull) to the vertebrae (up to the C5) and attaches to the upper third of the clavicle and on the acromion. It is this part which is visible from the front.
It elevates the shoulder and lifts the shoulder stump, tilts the head laterally, and allows head extension (neck back) and rotation.
– The medium beam goes from the vertebrae towards the scapula, more particularly, it originates at the level of the spinous processes of the vertebrae (C7 to D3) and goes as far as the acromion and overflows onto the spine of the scapula. It brings the scapula closer to the midline (middle of the back) and tilts the spine.
– The lower beam goes from the dorsal vertebrae to the scapula. It originates at the level of the spinous processes from D2 or D3 to D12 and ends near the beginning of the spine of the scapula. It lowers the scapula and allows arm abduction up to 180°.
Exercises to stretch and relax the trapezius
The trapezius muscles are often tense and contracted due to bad posture and the stress of everyday life. In addition to muscle pain, there are often other ailments such as headache, which can be one of the consequences of these tensions. If you spend your day in front of your computer, sitting at your desk or standing still, you surely have tight trapezius muscles at the end of the day. They must therefore be stretched regularly to compensate.
Here is a very useful stretching exercise to stretch the upper trapezius bundle. Place your right arm behind your back and grab your right wrist with your left hand. Bend your head to the left side, pulling your right arm at the same time. Hold the position for 15 seconds. Go gradually, smoothly.
Then switch to the other side (left trapezius) by reversing the grip. Do not hesitate to ask your loved ones for a trapezius and back massage in the evening. It will be for a good cause 😉
Trapezius weight training program
Exercise for the trapezius muscles included in a full body program
You can exercise your traps every other session, with 2 or 3 sets of shrug at the bar. Be aware, however, that the back and shoulder exercises already solicit them.
Trapeze module added to a split program
You can exercise your traps once a week, during the back or shoulder workout.