Assisting Mobility Work for Lower and Middle Traps

February 29, 2016 by VAHVA Fitness

Here are the best exercises on how to target the lower and middle traps with minimal equipment. Great assisting mobility work.

A great portion of the upper back muscularity consists of the middle and lower trapezius muscles and they play a big role in many scapula movements (especially the abduction).

Why you should include some middle back work into your workouts:
  • Great mobility work for the middle and lower trapezius muscles to keep your entire back healthy and functional. 
  • The possible cure for round shoulders and overly dominant front plane of the body.
  • The strength will transfer very well to pulling work like chin ups.
  • Strength and size benefits.

If you are an athlete or martial artist, you might want to consider adding some middle back work to your workouts. Most sportsmen and martial artists often do too much pushing work (like push ups), while their pulling muscles (the back) are neglected.

Add middle back work like the exercises demonstrated here and you may see great benefits in overall health and mobility of the entire upper body.

These can be considered mobility work and because these are small isolative exercises, 3 to 5 sets and 5 to 20 reps is recommended for the best results.

Middle & Lower Trapezius Exercises

It's possible to do these exercises with bodyweight alone, but most people would benefit greatly from increased resistance.

The only pieces of equipment you need are: light dumbbells or an elastic band. Elastic bands are perfect for many mobility drills and they're cheap. 

Band Pull Aparts

band pull aparts for middle traps

Band pull aparts are exactly what they sound like: you take an elastic band and pull it apart. This will hit the trapezius muscles and other muscles like the posterior deltoids.

Keep your arms locked or nearly straight and just pull the band apart by pulling your shoulder blades together and stretching the band behind with your arms.

There are many ways to adjust the exercise to hit the back muscularity in a slightly different fashion:

  • Supinated (underhand) and pronated (overhand) grips will change the rotation of the arms and as a result hit the back differently.
  • Adjust the height and angle. You can easily adjust the band pull apart by adjusting the height: you can pull from under your chest, at your chest level or over your chest. 
  • Body position: if you do band pull aparts bent over, they will be a bit harder. 
  • Bend the arms: this will add external rotation to the exercise and increase the engagement of the scapular.

Dumbbell Raises

Dumbbells will hit more the deltoids than the band pull apart but they are still a great way to target the middle back. 

The thing with dumbbells is that the resistance is completely different compared to band pull aparts. With dumbbells, the angles and rotations of the arms are very easy to change.

There are several variations you can do to increase the engagement of the middle traps though.

y raises for middle and lower traps

These are called the Y raises with dumbbells. For this you need an incline bench but you can also do them slightly bent over.

Y raises will hit the lateral and anterior deltoids, but middle and lower traps are also worked very nicely. Watch the video for the best demonstration.

Many people swear by this exercise and it's very popular among bodybuilders. You should definitely try it out. 

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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