Big traps look awesome. They fill in that area between your shoulders and your neck. Also, thick middle traps add a thick look to your upper body. Honestly, when I can see someone’s middle traps through their shirt, I find that very impressive. Check out Tom Hardy here, you can see how people used to refer to the traps as the “cobra muscles”.
The trapezius is comprised of three sections: the upper, middle and lower. Each section has a different function, but people typically only train the upper portion. For full development and better posture you need to add a few more exercises.
The upper traps elevate your shoulders and keep your shoulders from being pulled down.
The function of the middle trapezius is to pull the shoulders back. Note the difference to the lat or the rhomboids here… Think about just squeezing your shoulders straight back and together. That’s why the high wide machine row works so well (or a cable row) – lean back a bit and you can hit a bit higher on your traps. make sure to grip very wide with your elbows high and squeeze back.
The lower trapezius pulls the shoulders back and down, which is very useful for posture correction.
Here’s a complete trapezius workout for you to try – if you’re really an animal, do this after your deadlift workout! Deadlifts alone hit your trapezius well isometrically. Go heavy and hard on the shrugs and snatch grip high pulls, and do the rest fast with low rest to pump up the muscle. The combination is hard to beat.
Complete Trapezius Workout:
1. warm up: band pullaparts 4×20
2. heavy shrugs (upper traps) 5×10
3. wide machine high row (middle traps) 4×20 – lean back a bit, keep elbows high, squeeze middle traps!
4. snatch grip high pulls (upper and middle) 3×15 – use straps!
5. Y raises on 45 degree bench 5×10 (lower traps)
Some people can get away with very little trapezius training. I’m just not one of those people. Deadlifts, barbell rows and pullups will do a lot for your complete trapezius development, but if traps is something you want to focus on give my workout a try. Even understanding the function and being able to isolate and feel each section will be really useful in your training.