The 15 Best Trapezius Exercises

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Ranked based on how effective each exercise is in building muscle strength. Learn More

Top 10

  1. 1. Barbell Shrug

    Photo of Barbell Shrug being performed
    1,064,432 SETS LOGGED100 mSCORE

    Barbell Shrug is a variation on the more standard Dumbbell Shrug. Like other shrugs, this is an isolation movement that primarily targets your traps. The use of a barbell over dumbbells adds stability to the movement. This allows you to focus more on exertion than stability. The barbell also forces you into an overhand instead of a neutral grip.

  2. 2. Barbell Behind The Back Shrug

    Photo of Barbell Behind The Back Shrug being performed
    107,700 SETS LOGGED99 mSCORE

    Barbell Behind The Back Shrug is a variation on the more common Barbell Shrug. Similar to other Shrugs, this is an isolation exercise that primarily targets your traps. By positioning the barbell behind your body instead of in front can help keep your shoulders in the proper position.

  3. 3. Cable Shrugs

    Photo of Cable Shrugs being performed
    221,496 SETS LOGGED98.1 mSCORE

    This exercise is a cable variation on the standard shrug, and primarily targets the traps. The constant tension provided by the cable ensures effective muscle engagement throughout the movement. The use of a cable also allows for slight variations in the direction of your resistance.

  4. 4. Hammerstrength Shrug

    Photo of Hammerstrength Shrug being performed
    249,001 SETS LOGGED97.1 mSCORE

    A machine-based variation of the standard shrug. Using a Hammerstrength Machine restricts your range of motion, and forces you to move the weight on a set path. This helps stabilize the movement, allowing you to focus on exertion or form improvement.

    • Beginner
    • Hammerstrength (Leverage) Machine (all forms)
  5. 5. Smith Machine Shrug

    Photo of Smith Machine Shrug being performed
    262,674 SETS LOGGED96.2 mSCORE

    A variation of the shoulder shrug using a Smith machine, offering stability and controlled motion. It effectively targets the trapezius muscles, promoting muscle growth and strength development. The guided bar path adds stability to the movement allowing you to focus on form and exertion rather than stabilizing the movement.

    • Beginner
    • Smith Machine
  6. 6. Trap Bar Shrugs

    Photo of Trap Bar Shrugs being performed
    155,016 SETS LOGGED95.2 mSCORE

    This compound exercise targets the upper back, traps, and forearm grip strength. It utilizes the trap bar for a more natural hand position, offering a safer alternative for individuals with shoulder or wrist issues. Trap Bar Shrugs are effective for improving overall pulling strength and power, making them a suitable addition to any strength program.

    • Intermediate
    • Trap Bar
  7. 7. Smith Machine Behind the Back Shrug

    Photo of Smith Machine Behind the Back Shrug being performed
    121,621 SETS LOGGED94.3 mSCORE

    A variation of the shoulder shrug using a Smith machine with the barbell behind the body. This targets the upper traps and rear deltoids effectively, enhancing overall shoulder development. The Smith Machine's guided motion ensures stability, allowing for heavier loads with reduced risk of injury.

    • Beginner
    • Smith Machine
  8. 8. Dumbbell Shrug

    Photo of Dumbbell Shrug being performed
    2,447,340 SETS LOGGED93.3 mSCORE

    Dumbbell Shrug is an isolation exercise that primarily targets your traps. The use of dumbbells allows to ensure that you aren’t compensating for any differences in strength between sides, as well as gives you more freedom in your range of motion compared to some other equipment like barbells.

  9. 9. Cable Upright Row

    Photo of Cable Upright Row being performed
    503,330 SETS LOGGED87.6 mSCORE

    This compound exercise is a cable variation of an upright row. It targets the shoulders and traps. Using a cable for resistance gives you more control over the direction of your resistance, and allows for consistent tension throughout the movement. This is an effective exercises for developing strength and muscle mass in your back and shoulders.

  10. 10. Upright Row

    Photo of Upright Row being performed
    1,923,662 SETS LOGGED85.7 mSCORE

    Upright Row is a variation on the more standard Row. Like other Rows, this is a compound exercise, however this variation primarily targets your traps. The use of a barbell helps to stabilize the movement, allowing you to focus more on exertion than stability. This is a great exercise for developing functional strength, as well as being a great way to improve more advanced exercises like Olympic lifts.

11 - 15

  1. 11. Scapular Pull Up

    Photo of Scapular Pull Up being performed
    234,525 SETS LOGGED48.6 mSCORE

    A bodyweight exercise focusing on shoulder stability and scapular retraction. It targets the upper back and improves posture. Unlike traditional pull-ups, the emphasis is on engaging the shoulder blades rather than pulling the body up.

  2. 12. Dumbbell Upright Row

    Photo of Dumbbell Upright Row being performed
    1,470,894 SETS LOGGED45.7 mSCORE

    Dumbbell Upright Row is a variation on the more standard Barbell Upright Row. Like the other variation, this is a compound exercise that primarily targets your traps. The use of dumbbells adds a bit more instability to the movement, as well as forcing you to not compensate for any strength or mobility imbalances between sides.

  3. 13. Kettlebell Sumo High Pull

    Photo of Kettlebell Sumo High Pull being performed
    208,286 SETS LOGGED44.8 mSCORE

    A compound exercise combining elements of a sumo deadlift and a high pull. It targets the posterior chain, particularly the glutes, hamstrings, and upper back. The sumo stance increases hip engagement, while the high pull adds an explosive element, promoting power development.

  4. 14. Machine Shoulder Shrug

    Photo of Machine Shoulder Shrug being performed
    89,097 SETS LOGGED15.2 mSCORE

    An isolation exercise targeting the trapezius muscles using a machine. It allows for controlled movement and focuses solely on the shrugging motion, enhancing trap development. Ideal for beginners, providing support and minimizing strain on other muscle groups.

    • Beginner
    • Shoulder Shrug Machine
  5. 15. Smith Machine Upright Row

    Photo of Smith Machine Upright Row being performed
    188,124 SETS LOGGED7.6 mSCORE

    This compound exercise is a Smith Machine variation of an upright row. It targets the deltoids and traps. The guided bar path ensures proper form, reducing the risk of injury. Ideal for individuals looking to strengthen their shoulders and improve overall upper body function.

    • Beginner
    • Smith Machine