Trapezius workout: trap and shoulders vs trap and back?

Trapezius workout: trap and shoulders vs trap and back?

In this article, we will find out which trapezium muscle training is more effective for muscle growth: with the shoulders or with the back.

Trap And Shoulders Vs Trap And Back

The topic of this article is relevant and constantly discussed by professional athletes and trainers. It is discussed in any gym.

When it comes to training the muscles of the trapezoid, some people prefer to train them with shoulders, and others with back. Which method is more effective? There is no objective answer yet, but it’s still worth sorting out the problem.


The trapezius muscles are the superficial muscles of the upper back. They are attached to the spine, start from the occipital bone, reach the lower vertebrae and go to the side, to the shoulder blades. The main function of the trapezoid is to support the hands and provide movement of the shoulder blades.

The name trapezius muscles got due to its shape, which is very similar to trapezoid.


With a closer look at the trapezoid, they can be divided into three sections: upper, middle and lower. The upper part of the trapezoid, going from the neck to the side, to the clavicle, raises the shoulders.

The middle part, or transverse, of the trapezoid is involved in bringing the blades together. I bet you never thought that you were training a trapezoid while driving your shoulder blades while lying on a bench? The middle part of the trapezoid is located in the middle of the back and extends to the side, from the base of the neck to the edge of the scapular bone.

As for the bottom of the trapezoid, it is located between 4 and 12 processes of the spine, between the shoulder blades and under them, to the end of the spine. It becomes visible if you lower the shoulder blades down, keeping your arms straight.

Most believe that you need to develop only the top of the trapezoid, which is located at the top of the back. But trainers and doctors will say that the trapezius muscles must be fully and evenly developed, otherwise an imbalance that negatively affects posture may develop, which can later cause problems with the shoulder girdle.


Several exercises are aimed specifically at the development of the trapezoid region. The most popular of them is performed very simply: raising and lowering the shoulders, or shrugs with the shoulders.

Standing, arms extended along the body, in the hands of a burden, raise your shoulders up. Tighten your muscles and slowly lower your shoulders until you feel the trapezium stretch. Pretty simple, right? The most popular types of shrugs:

  • shrugs standing with a barbell in front of you,
  • shrugs standing with a barbell behind your back,
  • shrugs with dumbbells,
  • shrugs in Smith machine.


These exercises are not related to trapezoid training with shoulders or back, but will add variety to your training, as they are aimed at the development of trapeze. This is a “farmer’s walk”, craving for the face, horizontal pull-ups.

Farmer’s Walk: Take a burden that will be sensitive to your shoulders. The legs are slightly bent, the shoulder blades are flattened. Take short steps. During the steps you will feel the trapezium stretch. By the way, if you want to work out trapezes during cardio, then this exercise is great.

Upright cable row: put a rope tip on the horizontal cable machine. Stand right in front of the machine, grasp the edges of the rope with your hands. Move away from the simulator, holding the rope, to the distance of outstretched arms. Pull the rope to the chin, keeping your elbows as high as possible. Squeeze the trapezoid and rear deltas before releasing the rope. This exercise will also work great on your back deltas.

Horizontal pull-ups: set the bodybar or bar at a height at the waist level. Take a wide grip under the bodybar as if you are holding on to the horizontal bar. Keep your legs straight and lean on your heels. Stretch as high as possible, until your chest touches the bodybar, bringing the shoulder blades. Lower to the starting position and repeat. It trains the latissimus dorsi, rhomboid and posterior deltas.


The argument for training the trapezius with the back muscles is the fact that the trapezius muscles themselves are the large back muscles involved in supporting the spine.

Trapezium is involved in basic back exercises, such as deadlift rod on a hex bar, pull in a frame, pull rod in a slope.

Since the trapeziums work during these basic exercises, it makes sense to train them with your back.

Back workout pattern

Exercises Sets Repetitions
1. Deadlift 5 5
2. Incline rod pull 3 10-12
3. One hand dumbell lifts 3 10-12
4. Close grip lat pulldown 3 10-12
5. Draft of the lower block with straight arms 3 10-12
6. Shrugs  with a barbell 3 15



There are two arguments for training trap with shoulders. Professional weightlifters and trainers will tell you that the trap is so connected to the shoulder blades and involved in supporting their movement that they need to be trained together with the deltoid muscles.

In addition, the visible part of the trapezoid is located next to the shoulders. Nothing is more inspiring than a pair of broad rounded shoulders and embossed trapeziums resting on them from above.

Popular exercises for the shoulder girdle that load the muscles of the trapezium: pulling the bar to the chin with a wide grip, taking the bar to the chest from the hang, jerking and any other movements that require raising your arms above your shoulders. This training example shows how you can train your shoulders with an emphasis on trapeze.

Shoulder Workout Sample

Exercises Sets Repetitions
1. Barbell push 3 6, 4, 2
2. Barbell Front Raise 3 8-10
3. Side dumbbell lifts 3 10
4. Incline dumbbell front raise 3 10
5. Wide grip lat pulldown 3 15
6. Shrugs  with dumbbells 3 15
Plyometric exercises – explosive force and speed

Plyometric exercises – explosive force and speed

Plyometric exercises will help you develop explosive strength and speed, improve endurance, strengthen joints and ligaments, and diversify your workouts.

Plyometric exercises – explosive force and speed

The muscle mass is of little use if it is needed only for the sake of appearance, and not for functionality. Many athletes have been doing the same exercises over the years with barbells, dumbbells, and fitness equipment. This leads to results, and it’s wonderful. But let’s consider this issue from a psychological point of view: a person who has begun to seriously engage in regular exercise, eat properly and work on his physical form (gain muscle mass), probably thinks that he immediately became much better physically prepared than he was before. However, this is not quite true. And at that moment when he enters a football field or stadium, elementary muscle strain or damage to his ligaments will quickly return him to reality.

Muscles are used to a monotonous load in the gym, because you have not developed other qualities. Therefore, a little plyometric (jumping) exercises will only benefit you.

To complete the jumps you must already have a certain physical base. Proceed to them only when you understand how often you need to train. If you are still a beginner, this article is not for you. Listed below are a few basic plyometric exercises that will improve your functionality and make your muscles work in a new way.

Plyo Box Exercises: Box Jumps

Properly performed jumping on a pedestal is a great way to train your entire body. It loads your legs in an explosive manner, which does not give any other strength exercise, including even squats. There are a few simple rules that should be followed for safety.

  • Use the whole body: all muscle groups participate in the movement. This is the best way to learn to “explode.”
  • Gently land on the box: make sure not to fall on it from top to bottom. If your knees bend more when they land, than when you lift them off the ground, then the cabinet is too tall for you.
  • Take a step back from the box, not jump from it.
  • Imagine that each repetition is a separate set: there is no need to rush anywhere. Only the jump itself should be sharp in this exercise.

Plyometrics For Runners – Plyo Running

Changing the direction of movement when jumping will benefit your muscles. Classical exercises in the gym do not provide such an explosive dynamic load. Performing long jumps involves extension in the hip joint and the work of the muscles of the back of the leg, and also improves coordination and control over the flexion of the knee joints. When performing this exercise, consider the following rules. Try to fully extend the leg with which you push off, and raise the knee of the front leg as high as possible. Do not forget about the work of the hands. The more you wave your arms, the more comfortable the trajectory you are moving. At first, do not try to conquer long distances or jump too high. Focus on sharpness and technique. Touching the earth should occur in a split second. Try not to hold your foot on the ground for a long time so that the “rebound” is instant. Perform a maximum of 16 steps in one set.

Polymetrics: Side To Side Jumping

Side To Side Jumping

If, in addition to the gym, you are also interested in playing sports, jumping from foot to foot in the side is the skill that will come in handy. Few strength exercises use the same load vector, with which the knee ligaments are perfectly strengthened. Follow these guidelines. Before focusing on the jump distance, think about how you will land. Land softly, extinguish all inertia, keep an eye on balance. It is very good if you can land on one leg and you do not need to put the second on the floor for support. Help yourself with your hands, as when running. When you land on your right foot, your left hand should be raised. When tearing yourself off the ground, opposite your pushing leg with your hand, help yourself maintain balance. Use different combinations. You can do side-jumping sets in only one direction, or alternate left and right jumps. You can stand still or gradually move forward.

Plyo Push Up: Benefits, How-To

This exercise is a great completion for training your chest to make your torso muscles work in an explosive manner. Often with this there is a lot more difficulty than with similar exercises on the legs. Chest and triceps are small muscle groups relative to the quadriceps, gluteus muscles and hip biceps, they get tired much faster. You will not be able to “explode” as much as possible in each repetition, so you need to especially focus on the technique. And one more thing: no need to clap in a jump. One incorrectly executed repetition, and you, not returning to the desired position with the necessary speed, risk breaking a finger or stretching the ligaments of the wrist. It’s not worth it. Let your hands come off the ground and return to the same point.


Remember that these exercises are not for beginners. If you are really massive physique, be sure to include these exercises in your arsenal. A large deadweight creates constant stress on the joints, no matter what you do, even during normal walking. No matter how much you lift in the gym, you always run the risk of injury if you do the exercises without observing the correct technique. And one more thing: never forget that you want to become more athletic, and not a professional athlete. The difference is huge, so doing extra efforts here is completely useless.