Trapezius Exercises | Photos and Instructional Guides for Traps


The trapezius muscle is located on the upper back of the body. The trapezius is a large muscle that forms part of the upper back, neck and shoulder. The muscle is flat, wide and superficial and it originates from the occipital bone which forms the base of the skull and the back. The connection points of the trapezius muscle are the clavicle, acromion and the shoulder blade.

Exercise Guides For Your Trapezius!

The trapezius muscles consist of three areas and these include the upper zone, middle zone and the lower zone.The upper zone is also known as the superior fibers and it extends from the base of the skull and down to the lower thoracic spine. It covers the posterior and the lateral sides of the neck to the shoulder. It inserts into the clavicle and acromion of the scapula elevating the scapula. The middle zone can be divided into two sections which include the upper middle and the lower middle. They both originate from the thoracic vertebrae joining into the acromion and scapula. The lower zone is also known as the inferior fiber and it originates from the thoracic vertebrae and connects to the spine and the shoulder blade. The two trapezius form a diamond-shaped trapezoid, hence the name of the muscle group being called the “trapezius”.

The trapezius muscle has different functions depending on the zone. However, the main function of the trapezius muscle is to provide stability and movement of the shoulder blade by contracting all of its fiber bands lightly and simultaneously. The different functions include:

  • The upper and superior region’s main function is to support the weight of the arms. It elevates the shoulder blade when a weight is being carried. The superior fiber extends the head at the neck by pulling the occipital bone closer to the scapular.
  • The function of the mid-region is to pull the scapula closer to the spine. It works by retracting and adducting the scapula by pulling the scapula closer.
  • The lower and inferior region’s function is to rotate the scapula in an up-and-down direction which supports the uppermost part of the upper arm. The inferior fiber depresses the scapula by pulling it closer to the thoracic vertebrae.
  • The trapezius muscle also assists in breathing by enlarging the upper region of the chest in order to increase the breathing capacity of the lungs.
  • The trapezius also helps with the movement of the side of the head and neck and also in a backwards direction.

It is possible to feel the trapezius muscles contract when lifting weights and this should be the goal when performing exercises like barbell and dumbbell shrugs. You can try to stretch the arm in front of your body and use your other hand feel the area between the neck and shoulder to really get a good sense of which muscles are being engaged. The upper region of the trapezius muscle is developed with exercises like the hang clean. The middle region can be developed by pulling the scapula together and the lower region can be developed by drawing the shoulder blades downward ensuring that you keep the arms straight.

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