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