Training Upper Traps

Training Upper Traps


Want to learn our favorite, scientifically proven exercise to target upper traps?



Unlike the lower and middle traps, people often target their upper traps as part of their shoulder routine with some sort of shrugs (barbell in front of body, barbell behind body, dumbbells, or a machine to name a few). Based on the fiber orientation being directed diagonally upward and toward spine the main actions are:

  • Elevation and upward rotation of the shoulder blade

It safe to say that any form of shrugs will include these actions. However, at The Athlete Engineers our goal is to find you the optimal exercise that will generate the most muscle activation so that you can get the most out of your training!


A comprehensive study comparing upper trap activation with several exercises showed that standing unilateral shrugs resulted in the greatest muscle activation! Doing these shrugs one side at a time, enables you to focus specifically on the contraction of each side. Doing this lift with dumbbells is the most common, but if you want to challenge your body to also balance the weight, then try doing them with a barbell!


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Featured Image By: Verywell

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