4 Drills for Trapezius Mobilization

July 1, 2016 by VAHVA Fitness

4 Effective drills for mobilizing your trapezius muscles. These drills may help with shoulder and neck problems.

Although the drills demonstrated here will mainly target the trapezius muscles, countless of other muscles are developed as well. 

Your shoulders and numerous of different rotator cuff muscles will also get stronger. Weak rotator cuff muscles are behind the many shoulder problems people experience.

You will hit the muscles from angles they've never been hit before and this can be a great blessing to any problems you may experience with your shoulders or neck.

This is very versatile trapezius training where you are hitting the upper traps from multiple different angles and muscle lengths.

The drills here will ensure your traps will get strong in the entire range of motion and in any arm position. 

But why?

  • Your shoulders will stay healthy thus you can actually train to your full potential.
  • You will improve your body structure and posture. This will affect results in everything.
  • Your traps and shoulders are strong in every position - this will be very good for movement training, sports and any martial art.
  • The size and strength of your traps and shoulders will increase (these drills aren't easy).

In the beginning you will probably notice that your traps or shoulders are very tight. You can work on these drills 1-3 times per week for as long as you need in order to relieve the tightness. 

Use very light weights (or no weight at all) and focus on doing good 10-20 repetitions per set for 3 to 5 sets per exercise.

Feeling some tightness is normal, but if you feel pain - reduce the weight or stop completely. Start cautiously and if you have existing physical conditions, consult your physician first. 

1. Scapula External Rotation

scapula external rotation
external rotation with scapula

Scapula external rotation is similar to the standing external rotation drill except here your scapula is moving up and down alongside with the movement of your arm.

Your trapezius muscles will be hit from a nice range of motion and your rotator cuff muscles like infraspinatus and teres minor will also get work done.

This is a good drill for both traps and the rotator cuff. This is not a strength exercise so don't use heavy weights.

2. External Rotation in Shoulder Extension

shoulder back traps mobility
external rotation with scapula

After you have mastered the scapula external rotation, you can try the external rotation in maximal shoulder extension: this means that your arm is pulled back / behind.

This movement tends to be the most tight with many individuals. This is the exercise that can help with shoulder pain in dips.

Work on this drill and you can see great improvements in the health and mobility of your shoulders.

3. Turning Overhead Raise

overhead traps raise
overhead traps raise

Turning overhead raise is the most traps dominant drill demonstrated here and will isolate the trapezius very nicely.

You raise the dumbbell from a bent arm, and during the motion you internally rotate your arm and raise the weight over your head.

This can immensely help with overhead pressing because you are basically working the same muscles.

You can increase the difficulty by leaning forward (just a little bit of lean is enough). The forward lean will make the exercise much harder and thus more effective.

4. Traps Side Raise

traps side raise

Traps side raise is similar to the lateral raise except here you are leaning more to the side and focusing more on the trapezius than your shoulders.

It's easy to do this exercise wrong (to hit more the deltoids than the traps) which is why you need to pay special attention to the contraction of the trapezius muscle.

Try to push the traps and shoulders up with every repetition.

Train hard, stay safe.


samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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