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7 Lower Trap Exercises for Better Posture, Strength, and Stability

Lower Trap exercises

Your upper traps may try and steal the show when it comes to your workout routine, but it pays to give your lower traps some love as well. 


Lower trap exercises can: 


1) Improve your posture, mobility, and stability 


2) Help you avoid neck and shoulder injuries 


3) Ensure muscular balance by targeting a not-so-common muscle 


Let’s start with the best lower trap exercises. 


7 Best Lower Trap Exercises for Posture, Strength, and Stability 

Lower trap exercises for posture

When it comes to working out your lower traps, they’re worth all the attention you can give them. But you want to make sure these exercises actually work the lower traps without letting the upper traps steal the show. 


That’s why I put together this list of the 7 best lower trap exercises for posture, strength, and stability. Let’s check it out. 


Lower Trap Exercise #1: Prone Elbow Raise 

Let’s start simple. I like starting with this lower trap exercise because it uses no equipment, and I’ll teach you some very specific ways to make sure you engage this elusive muscle. 


How to Perform This Lower Trap Exercise: 

  1. Lie down on a yoga mat on your stomach. 

  1. Place both hands hand on the back of your head, allowing your elbows to flare out. 

  1. Raise your elbows up as far as possible. 

  1. Hold for 5 seconds. 

  1. Then, release the elbows back down to the floor, and repeat. 

Bonus Tip: How Do I Engage the Lower Traps With This Lower Trap Exercise?

Often, people also find it easier to engage their upper trap muscles when trying to target their lower traps. 


Typical, huh? 


With both mid and lower trap exercises, it can be super difficult to know you’re actually hitting those muscles. Let’s make sure the upper traps don’t steal the attention yet again. Here are some tips on how to make sure you activate your lower traps during the prone elbow raise! 


The lower trapezius is responsible for posterior tilting of the scapula–or shoulder blade. What this means is that the top part of the scapula tilts away from the ribcage and the bottom part tilts toward the ribcage. 


So, to activate this muscle: 


- Try to visualize the bottom part of your shoulder blade digging into your ribcage to activate that posterior tilt 

(bottom of the shoulder blade going in/top of the shoulder blade going out) 


- Avoid jerking back your shoulder blades. Instead, focus on letting the shoulder blades come up as you pull back. 


Lower Trap Exercise #2: Prone T 

This one’s another simple one with no equipment. Because of this, it’s one of the best lower trap exercises to complete at home. 


The cues here can help you understand what motions to make in order to fully activate your lower traps during this lower trap exercise. 

How to Perform This Lower Trap Exercise: 

  1. Lie face down on a yoga mat. 

  1. Place both arms straight out at your sides, forming a “T” with your arms and your torso. 

  1. Keeping them straight, raise both arms up as high as possible. 

  1. Slowly return back to the starting position. 

  1. Then repeat. 

Bonus Tip: How Do I Engage the Lower Traps With This Lower Trap Exercise?

- Pro tip: Point your thumbs up toward the ceiling as you raise your arms. This will keep your shoulders rotated externally, which is prime positioning for lower trap activation. 


Lower Trap Exercise #3: Face Pulls 

For this lower trap exercise, you’ll need to find a cable machine at your local gym. 

How to Perform This Lower Trap Exercise: 

  1. Attach a rope handle to a pulley at a cable station. 

  1. Set the pulley to a position that is higher than your head. 

  1. Facing the cable machine, use a neutral grip to grasp each side of the rope attachment. 

  1. Allow your arms to fully extend by taking one or two steps back from the cable station. 

  1. Pull the rope toward your face, keeping your elbows up. Bring both hands back by your ears, forming a right angle with your arms. 

  1. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and pause. 

  1. Slowly return to the starting position, and repeat. 

I’ve got a whole article on the face pull that covers, proper form, variations, and muscles worked. Check it out HERE


Lower Trap Exercise #4: Straight Arm Dip

Studies have shown this exercise as one of the best to markedly activate your lower traps. [1] The retracting and depressing of your shoulders that happens during this motion is what does the trick! 


How to Perform This Lower Trap Exercise: 

  1. You’ll need to find a set of parallel bars at your gym for this lower trap exercise. 

  1. Keeping your arms straight, lower your body down as low as possible. 

  1. Pause. 

  1. Focusing on pulling your shoulders in and down, lift your body back up. 

  1. Repeat. 

Lower Trap Exercise #5: Reverse Shrugs 

Shrugs are the go-to for upper traps, so it only makes sense that reverse shrugs would be one of the best lower trap exercises. Rather than focusing on raising your shoulders, this exercise uses scapular depression to hit your lower traps. 


You’ll need to find a barbell at your gym, or if you have a barbell at home, this can be one of the best lower trap exercises at home. 


How to Perform This Lower Trap Exercise: 

  1. Place a barbell in a low position. 

  1. Face away from the barbell. 

  1. Grab the barbell from behind with an overhand grip. 

  1. Pull the bar up, bringing your shoulders to your ears. Your arms should remain straight with this motion. 

  1. Slowly lower the bar back down. 

  1. Then repeat. 

Lower Trap Exercise #6: Overhead Farmer’s Walk 

This is one of my favorite lower trap exercises using dumbbells or kettlebells. This one’s fun to do, and it’s a compound back exercise–meaning it hits a ton of muscles and joints all at once. 


This is one of my favorite lower trap exercises for posture and balance. 


How to Perform This Lower Trap Exercise: 

  1. Stand in between a set of dumbbells or kettlebells. 

  1. Squat down to pick them up. 

  1. Lift them up over your head. Focus on bracing your core, maintaining a straight posture, and keeping your shoulders back. 

  1. Walk forward, keeping stable and trying to avoid wobbling from side to side. 

  1. Walk forward as many steps as you want to before walking back to the starting position. 

Lower Trap Exercise #7: Standing Dumbbell Y Raise 

This is one of my other favorite lower trap exercises with dumbbells. And because all you need is dumbbells, it’s easy to complete at home. 


How to Perform This Lower Trap Exercise: 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding one dumbbell in each hand at your side. 

  1. Keeping your palms facing inward and elbows slightly bent, raise the dumbbells up and out above your head. 

  1. Slowly return to the starting position. Then repeat. 

 

Trapezius Anatomy 

Lower trap exercises chart

When most people think of traps, they picture the bulky muscle between the shoulder and neck–visible on most bodybuilders. 


And if you search YouTube for “trap exercises,” shoulder shrugs will be one of the first moves to come up. That’s because most people tend to focus on working the more visible brother of the lower trap–the upper trap. 


It’s like lower trap’s annoying older brother who just won’t stop stealing all the attention. 


But if you take some time to get educated on your trapezius muscle, you’ll actually see that this muscle is so much more than the muscle that gets you a thick neck


There are actually 3 siblings in this triad of muscles: 


1) Upper traps

2) Middle traps

3) And today’s special…the lower traps 


So, let’s dive in to what each muscle does and the benefits of exercising these muscles. 


What is the Trapezius? 

Named for its trapezoidal, diamond shape it forms on your back, the trapezius muscle begins at the back of your head and neck on both the left and right side. It extends down your shoulders and stops near the middle of your back.


Upper Trapezius 

These muscle fibers start at the back of your skull and run to your shoulders. 

What Upper Traps Do 

- Elevation of the shoulder 


- Upward rotation of the shoulder 


- Rotation of the neck 


- Side tilting (lateral flexion) of the neck 


Most Popular Exercise for Upper Traps 

Shoulder Shrugs 


There are many variations of shoulder shrugs, but most of them work the upper traps, getting you a bulkier-looking neck. 


Middle Trapezius 

You can find these guys between the shoulder blades. 

What Mid Traps Do 

- retract the shoulder blades together 


- correct poor posture 

Most Popular Exercise for Mid Traps 

Rows


For any type of row, you typically bring your shoulder blades together. This naturally works your mid traps.  

Lower Trapezius 

They may have shy, quiet vibes when it comes to muscles people talk about, but today, they’re the star of the show. You can find them below your shoulder blades, extending down to your mid-back. 


What Lower Traps Do 

- Depressing your shoulder blades: Whenever you pull something down toward your body–such as grabbing a coffee mug from a shelf–your lower traps help pull your shoulder blades downward for this motion. 


- Retracting your shoulder blades: As we just learned, the middle trapezius muscles bring your shoulder blades together. But the good news is: They don’t have to do that task alone. The lower traps jump in to help any time your shoulder blades retract. 


- Improve shoulder stability, strength, and posture: Building lower trapezius muscles–as well as your upper and middle trapezius muscles–improves your strength and stability. Keeping these muscles well-balanced and developed helps improve your posture by keeping your shoulder blades in place. 


Most Popular Exercise for Lower Traps 

There’s not just one. I recommend all 7 in this article! 


Benefits of Lower Trap Exercises 

Here’s why you should prioritize adding mid and lower trap exercises into your workout routine: 


Muscular Balance  

You wouldn’t work out all your upper body and totally ignore your lower body! 


If you’re only working out one part of your traps, this would be like you only working out your upper body and never your lower. Applying this concept to your traps, you’d start to see discrepancies in the strength and the appearance of your back. 


Avoid Rounded Shoulders 

One result of neglecting mid and lower trap exercises is that your shoulders tend to round and get pushed forward. When your lower traps are strong enough, it naturally causes your posture to improve and your shoulders to be set back. 


Avoid Shoulder Impingement 

A weak lower trapezius tends to put a burden on the upper trapezius muscles, especially when these muscles become disproportionately strong from missing out on mid and lower trap exercises. 

 

When this happens, this puts you more at risk for shoulder impingement–when inflammation causes your shoulder blade to rub against the rotator cuff as a result of overuse of shoulders. [2]  


Thicker Back 

The aesthetics of working out your upper traps may be a bit more on the nose, but you will see improved results in the thickness of your mid and lower back when you add mid and lower trap exercises into your workout routine! 


Learn More About Your Traps, Neck, and Shoulders 

Here at Back Muscle Solutions, we’ve got tons of resources on all things back health. When I injured my back during a move, it took me over a year to recover, and getting back in physical shape was a huge part of my healing journey! I’ve gone through all the questions when it comes to my back: 


- How do I get rid of my nagging back pain? 


- Can I work out while dealing with back pain? 


- How do I work out specific muscles in my back? 


- What are the healthiest stretches for back health? 


For answers to all of these questions and more, check out our blog HERE


You’ll find similar articles, such as: 


“8 Trapezius Stretches to Loosen Tight Traps”


“Shoulder Impingement Exercises: A Comprehensive Guide” 



You can also check out our YouTube channel HERE.  


“Rhomboid Pain”: How To Fix Shoulder Blade Pain Quickly


“Neck Training Like Andrew Huberman (Results After 4 Weeks)”


Lower Trap Exercises FAQs

How do you work out your lower traps?

General “trap exercises” won’t do the trick if you’re looking to specifically target your lower traps. Check out the 7 best lower trap exercises that are included in this article, and you’ll be on the path to stronger lower traps and more balanced trap muscles in general. 


Why are my lower traps so weak?

You’re not alone, my friend. Many exercises tend to focus on the upper traps because they are more showy. Also, upper traps tend to naturally activate more during trap exercises. 


If you have weak lower traps, you should add some lower trap exercises into your routine for overall muscular balance. 


What is the action of the lower trap?

Lower trapezius muscles are responsible for decompressing and retracting your shoulder blades. They help with shoulder stability and strength as well as posture. 


Do pull ups target lower traps?

Yes, pull ups target your lats and lower traps. They’re also one of the best llower trap exercises! 


What are the benefits of strong lower traps?

Benefits of adding lower trap exercises into your routine include muscular balance, good posture, avoiding rounded shoulders and shoulder impingement, and a thicker back for aesthetics. 


Do deadlifts work lower traps?

Yes, deadlifts work your upper, middle, and lower traps all at the same time! 


Sources: 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2953285/


[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1050641112001848


[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8430934/

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