Monday, May 9, 2011

Strengthen Your Trapezius Muscle (Part 1 of 3)

The trapezius muscle is a large diamond-shaped muscle that covers most of your upper back.  It sits on top of other important muscles such as your latissimus dorsi, teres major, and rhomboids.  The large trapezius muscle can be divided into three sections: the upper traps, the middle traps, and the lower traps.

This large muscle is responsible for most of the scapular movements.  In order to strengthen the entire muscle, you and your clients must perform 4 different movements: scapular elevation, scapular depression, scapular retraction, and scapular upward rotation.

Two of my favorite exercises for working the upper traps is shoulder shrugs and shoulder press.  Both of these exercises work the upper traps with two different movements: scapular elevation and scapular upward rotation.

When performing shoulder shrugs, select a weight that allows you to perform 10 to 15 reps.  Shrug your shoulders up; rotating your shoulders is NOT necessary since the muscle fibers will only maximally contract against gravity.

During a shoulder press, the most important part of the exercise when trying to strengthen the upper traps is the upper portion.  The lower portion of the exercise emphasizes your deltoids while the upper portion emphasizes your traps.

Next time we will discuss scapular retraction and scapular depression.

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