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JAN 31, 2024

Lower Trap Workout: Top Exercises for Strong Shoulders

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Read time: 7 minutes

When honing robust shoulders you’ve got to think beyond just improving those deltoids. Often overlooked but equally important, the lower trapezius muscle contributes significantly to your shoulder strength and overall upper body fitness aesthetics. That’s why we’ve put together a deep dive on Lower Trap Workouts, unveiling the most effective exercises for chiseling your shoulder shape while improving functionality, promoting better posture, and enhancing your upper body aesthetics.

Strengthening Lower Trap Muscles

Lower traps (short for trapezius muscles if you want to show off to your friends) are often overlooked when it comes to shoulder and back strength. Strengthening these muscles is crucial for maintaining a stable and mobile shoulder blade - and neglecting them can lead to increased injury risks in other exercises. As such, your exercise selection is key to targeting these lower traps effectively.

Here are some of the most effective exercises to include in your lower trap workout routine:

  • Pull-Up Variations

  • Rowing Movements

Pull-Up Variations

We all know pull-ups are great for your arms and overall upper body but they also engage the lower traps when performed correctly. Here are some variations that will help activate your lower traps:

  • Wide-grip pull-ups: A wider grip requires more scapular retraction, which activates your lower traps.

  • Scapular pull-ups: These are typically performed as part of a warm-up or activation drill before pull-up training. The focus here should be on retracting just your shoulder blades.

  • Archer pull-ups: By leaning towards one side while pulling up, you create an extra load on one arm and side of your back, forcing your lower trap to work harder to maintain proper shoulder stability.

However, it's essential to master basic pull-up forms before moving on to these variations.W Why? Well, otherwise, you risk losing out on the benefits while putting yourself at risk of injury. Start by focusing on a strict form with a full range of motion - elbows locked out at the bottom and chin over the bar at the top.

Rowing Movements

The lower traps make up an essential muscle group that stabilizes the shoulder blade while providing overall back support. Therefore, it's so important to incorporate exercises that target this muscle group into your training regimen. One effective way of achieving this is through rowing movements.

  • Dumbbell rows are a perfect example of a rowing movement that helps hit the lower traps. The motion involved in the exercise involves retracting the scapulae towards the spine, which strengthens the lower trapezius muscles, leading to enhanced shoulder stability.



Bent-Over Barbell Rows

Feet shoulder-width apart and should be placed beneath the barbell. Hinge hips back with torso parallel to the floor and grasp bar with an overhand grip. Pull the barbell towards your chest while ensuring your elbows stay close to your body.

T-Bar Rows

Stand facing a loaded T-Bar Machine with feet shoulder-width apart and grip handles attached. Bend at the waist with legs straight, then lift the T-bar towards the chest by retracting shoulder blades before slowly lowering the T-bar.

Close-Grip Lat Pulldowns

Start by gripping handles attached to the lat pull-down machine at shoulder width, then pull handles downwards until they touch the sternum, ensuring elbows are close to the body, then pause before raising the weight back up.


While rowing movements help primarily activate the lower traps, you may need targeted isolation exercises for maximum results.

Stabilizing Lower Traps Through Isolation Exercises

Isolation exercises aim to hit specific muscles rather than working on larger groups simultaneously. They take you through controlled movements to hone specific parts of muscles like the rotator cuff or external obliques. With isolated trap exercises, only smaller regions of muscle fibers are engaged in comparison to compound movements such as upright rows or shrugs.

  • Face pulls are one of the most effective isolation exercises for lower trap development. This exercise involves pulling a rope or cable attachment towards the face with arms extended retracting the shoulder blades towards the spine.

Other recommended exercises include:

  1. Band pull-apart

  2. Prone Trap Raise

  3. Scaption and Y Raise

These exercises help activate and strengthen parts of the lower traps often neglected by other training strategies, ensuring they remain strong and stable.

Full Body Exercises Involving Lower Traps

The scapular pull is an excellent exercise to strengthen your lower traps while also helping improve posture.

  • Begin by lying flat on your stomach and lifting your arms above your head.

  • Ensure your palms face downwards, touching the sides of your temples.

  • Now, without moving any other part of your body, lift only your shoulders off the ground as far as you can comfortably manage, then hold for about two seconds before lowering them again.

  • Repeat this process while focusing on contracting the lower trapezius muscles on each rep.

  • Do three sets of ten reps, with one minute rest between sets.

Say you work at a desk for eight hours every day (I know I do). This leads to a habitual rounded shoulder posture that often creates a tight chest and weak back muscles. This sedentary lifestyle can cause pain and reduced mobility within your shoulders and upper back region. Scapular pulls aid in activating inactive shoulder blades by effectively targeting neglected lower trap muscles.

Dumbbell Pull Press

The Dumbbell Pull Press, also known as the "Lolli press," is an excellent exercise for shoulder and lower trap development. The compound exercise effectively works the entire shoulder girdle and targets the lower traps. This standing lift starts with dumbbells by your sides and ends with overhead presses. The critical trick to maximizing lower trap development with this exercise is maintaining retracted scapulae throughout its execution.

Try starting with lighter weights to practice proper form before increasing resistance.

Improving Mobility with Stretch and Motion Practices

Incorporating full-body exercises within workouts involving lower trap muscles and traditional isolation exercises is essential. The whole body is strengthened through such moves, and balanced and stabilized shoulder girdles are developed.

Bent-Over DB Shrugs

Bent-over DB shrugs are another great exercise to strengthen your lower traps.

  • Begin by hinging forward at the hips until you're close to parallel with the ground while holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing inward towards your body.

  • Slowly raise your arms straight out from your sides while engaging your shoulder blades simultaneously until they reach shoulder height, then hold for 2 seconds before returning to the starting position.


How To


One-Arm Cable Lateral Raise

Attach cable to the D-handle, stand sideways to the cable machine with hips squared off against the weight stack, and use the arm closest to the cable machine to grip the handle with palm facing down. Push the handle from the thigh up and out to the side, keeping the elbow straight with the thumb pointed upward until the arm is parallel with the floor. Slowly return the handle down to thigh level.

Ensure that movements are slow and controlled and that your elbow joint remains straight during exercise.

Cable Face Pull

Attach rope attachment or band around the high anchor point of a cable machine; assume a staggered stance while pulling ends of the rope towards the face so hands fall outside ears when fully extended, squeeze shoulder blades together at the end position, then lower slowly back down with control.

Avoid creating momentum throughout the exercise and work to keep hands in line with the face.

Overhead Carry With Kettlebell or Dumbbell:

Stand straight, holding a kettlebell or dumbbell above your head with one arm extended, keep shoulder blades down and contracted from start to finish, and walk for 30 seconds before switching arms for Two sets of all extensions.

Keep core braced while lifting to maintain stability and balance. Pay attention to form and posture while walking.


Grasp the bar using an overhand grip a few inches wider than usual, retract your scapula, and engage your lower traps; pull your chin towards the bar by engaging lats and elbow flexors, then slowly lower down until arms are straight again.

Avoid swinging, which creates momentum while ensuring slow, controlled movements.

Seated Cable Row

Sit on the seat of a cable machine, position feet against footrests while securing the handle with both hands, pull comfortably across your abdomen with elbows tucked tightly into sides and shoulder blades down, contracting lower traps, then slightly arch back before returning to the starting position.

Avoid slumping especially when returning to the starting position, to optimize the benefits.


Strong lower traps are essential for the stability and mobility of the shoulder blades. And by neglecting these muscles you can increase the risk of other exercise injuries. Therefore, it's important to incorporate exercises that help improve and maintain shoulder mobility and function.

Stretching is also essential to improving mobility in the shoulders and lower traps. Even simple stretches like standing arm crosses can work wonders. In addition, exercises such as cable face pulls can help stretch and activate the lower traps effectively.

Motion practices like foam rolling your upper back can significantly help in muscle preparation by reducing muscle tension, strain, and soreness in your upper back area.

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Written by Matthew Stogdon

Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.


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