Strengthen All Areas of the Trapezius Muscle


According to a recent article by performance expert Ralph Cornwell, the lower portion of the trapezius muscle is responsible for "developing a base of power in the upper torso." The lower trapezius muscle also disperses force from a blow to the head, helping to prevent concussions and neck injuries.

The Shrug is the most common training exercise for strengthening the trap muscle. But although they are certainly beneficial, Shrugs recruit only the upper portion of the trap, neglecting the middle and lower sections. To work the entire trap, Cornwell offers several exercises that target the lower portion of the muscle, two of which are highlighted below. (If you're interested in learning more about the trapezius muscles, head over to The Ralph Cornwell Files.)

Trapezius Muscle Exercises

Trapezius Muscle

Single-Arm Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press

  • Sit on bench, holding dumbbell in right hand above shoulder
  • Drive right arm straight up until fully extended
  • Slowly return to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps; perform with opposite arm

Sets/Reps: 2x6-8 each arm
Coaching Points: Keep dumbbell positioned over shoulder // Perform in controlled fashion

Seated Row Series

  • On Seated Row machine, grasp handles with palms facing inward
  • Pull handles to chest; hold for one count
  • Return to start position; repeat for as many perfect reps as possible
  • Rest 30 seconds; perform next set using an underhand grip
  • Retract scaps and pull handles toward chest; hold for one count
  • Slowly return to start position; repeat for as many perfect reps as possible

Sets/Reps: 2x max reps
Coaching Points: Reduce weight by 50 percent to perform second movement // Do not bend arms to retract scaps // Perform for specified duration or until form is compromised // If Seated Row machine is unavailable, perform using cable machine


Zac Clark Zac Clark - Zac Clark is a freelance writer who formerly served as STACK's Custom Content Manager. Prior to joining STACK in 2008, he served as an editorial assistant for USA Hockey Magazine at the USA Hockey national headquarters in Colorado Springs. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a bache
Become a Contributing Expert