If you want to maximize the development of your upper back and build up your shoulders, then you need to do the best cable trap exercises.
Although every cable trap exercises hit all three muscle fibers to some degree, certain ones are better than others at stressing the different Muscle fibers because of the biomechanics involved.
In this article, we will discuss what the trap muscles are, how to do the cable trap exercises, how it contributes to greater performance, and give you the best cable trap exercises.
What is the Trapezius muscle?
The trapezius is a large muscle located in the upper back. It starts at the base of your neck and extends across your shoulders and down to the middle of your back.
It looks like a trapezoid (a shape with four sides, two that are parallel). Some people call the trapezius the trap muscle.
This large muscle helps you move your body and maintain good posture. The trapezius is divided into three areas, each of which plays a role in executing a specific kind of movement. Together, the three parts of the trapezius help you move your head, stand up straight, bend or twist your torso and raise your arms.
As mentioned above, the trapezius muscle is divided into three areas:
- The upper fibers (Upper trapezius)
- The middle fibers (called the middle trapezius)
- The lower fibers (called the lower trapezius)
Cable Trap Exercises Benefits
Here are the benefits of a cable trap exercises :
- Muscle strength & growth: Practicing cable trap workouts is one of the most effective ways to increase hypertrophy in the back and shoulders.
- Stability & conditioning: Cable trap workout activates all major areas of the shoulders, making it excellent for upper body stability and conditioning. By doing frequent shrug and upright rows, you will improve your position while protecting yourself from injury.
- Builds Traps: Traps are tricky to build. There are only a handful of exercises that mainly target your traps. A cable trap exercise works your shoulders just as much as it exercises your traps.
- Improve your posture. When practiced with proper form, cable trap exercises help build strength in your upper body stabilizer muscle groups, helping you stand up tall and keep your back straight.
- Stronger traps can help reduce neck pain. Strengthening your upper traps increases the activation of your shoulder muscles, helping provide better support to your head and neck.
5 Best Cable Trap Exercises
Some of the best cable trap exercises to add to your workout routine include:
1. Cable Shrug
The cable shrug is a variation of the shoulder shrug and one of the best upper trap cable exercises that are utilized to build the trapezius muscle of the upper back.
Cable shrug, one of the best exercises for isolating the traps and offers versatility to further improve development.
Primary: Trapezius, Lateral deltoid.
Secondary: Anterior delts, Infraspinatus
- Grab a cable bar attachment that is attached to a low pulley. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart or slightly wider if you wish. Your hands should be facing down.
- Stand close to the pulley and extend your arms in front of you while holding the bar.
- Raise your shoulders, lift the bar as high as you possibly can. Exhale while performing this movement. Hold the contraction at the top for a second.
- Slowly lower the bar to its starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
- Prevent from rolling your shoulders, as this is incorrect form and can result in injury.
2. Cable Upright Row
The upright row is a movement that targets many of the large muscles in the upper back and shoulders, which is key for many movements (see below) in strength, power, and fitness sports. The cable exercise targets all of the upper, middle, and lower trap muscles.
Cable upright rows are an exercise that nearly everyone can do using a wide variety of grip widths.
Cable machines keep tension on the muscles throughout the entire range of motion, ultimately improving muscle activation and hypertrophy.
Primary: Trapezius, Lateral deltoid.
Secondary: Anterior deltoid, supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor.
- Attach a straight bar to a low cable pulley. Grab the bar using a shoulder-width or wider overhand grip.
- Stand close to the pulley with your body upright, your shoulders pulled back.
- Exhale as you pull the bar up the front of your body until it reaches the level of your lower or middle chest.
- Do not pull the bar up any higher. Hold for a count of two. Inhale as you lower the bar to the starting position.
- Bend slightly at the knees and stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your shoulders back, chest out, and body upright.
3. Face Pull
Face pull is a cable machine exercise that primarily targets the rear deltoid and to a lesser degree also targets the biceps, triceps, and traps. Use a cable pulley machine to pull the weight straight toward your forehead.
This exercise prevents muscular imbalance and builds overall shoulder strength. However, there are numerous variations of the face pull that you could try that may require different types of equipment and setup.
You should add this cable trap exercise to your trap workout routine.
Primary: Posterior deltoid.
Secondary: Lateral deltoid, trapezius, rhomboids, infraspinatus, teres minor, teres major.
- Grab the ends of the rope attachment using a neutral grip (palms facing each other) and slightly lean back.
- Pull the rope toward your face as you spread the ends of the rope, so they end up on the sides of your ears just above your shoulders in the finish position.
- Hold this position for as a second as you squeeze your shoulder blades together, contracting rear delts and middle traps as hard as possible.
- Then slowly return the rope to the start position and repeat for reps.
- Stand straight with feet in a comfortable, balanced stance.
- Be sure to exhale when pulling weight toward your face.
- Think about trying to pinch your shoulder blades as tight as possible when pulling weight toward your face.
- Your upper arms should be straight out to your sides with elbows bent.
4. Cable High Row
Half kneeling high cable row rope is a tremendous exercise that effectively works many muscles, including the shoulder, back, wing, and middle and lower trapezius muscles.
Using this exercise gives people with shoulder issues an exercise to get the benefits of rows.
In addition, face pull is one of the most effective corrective exercises that help compensate for poor posture and shoulder dysfunction.
Primary: Rear deltoid.
Secondary: Lateral delt, trapezius, rhomboids, Arm.
- Set the cable up at a high point with the rope attachments
- Grab the rope with both hands using an overhand grip, then take a step back and get onto knees facing the cable machine
- Starting with your arms stretched out and away, pull back through your elbows until your hands are just in front of your shoulders
- Slowly return to starting position. Repeat for desired reps.
- Don’t lean backwards to pull the weight towards you.
- Focus on the mind-muscle connection to pull down by using your back muscles.
5. Seated Cable Rows
Seated cable rows is an excellent exercise to build middle back muscles and this works on mid and lowers traps as well. It can be done with wide and narrow grips.
A pronated (overhand) grip tends to target the upper and middle trapezius, whereas a neutral (thumbs up) grip hits the middle and lower trapezius. A supinated (underhand) grip switches the focus to the latissimus dorsi.
Primary: Trapezius (middle and lower fibers), latissimus dorsi.
Secondary: Rhomboids, rear deltoid.
- Sit on a seated cable pulley rowing machine with legs slightly bent and feet supported against the crossbar.
- Take hold of the handles with your arms extended and back stretched.
- Pull the handles so that they come as close to the lower chest/abdomen as possible.
- Thrust your chest out while pulling with your body in upright position. Slowly return the handle to the starting position.
- Pause briefly when the handles are close to the chest and squeeze your upper back muscles, bringing the scapulae closer.
- Keep your knees slightly bent to avoid knee and lower back pressure.
- Remember, a rounded back is a wrong back. Keep it straight at all times.
- Keep your upper back stationary, don’t move your upper back, back, and forth.
Frequently Asked Question
How do you train traps with cables?
There are numerous trap exercises you can do with a cable to build your traps. Try cable shrugs, cable upright rows, Cable High Row and face pull.
Are cable shrugs good?
Yes, the cable shrug is a good exercise for training the trapezius muscles. The primary muscle group activated during cable shrugs are your upper trapezius muscles.
The cable shrug is a great way to strengthen your upper back muscles, build traps, and improve posture.
How Do I Build My Trap Muscles With cable?
To build bigger, stronger traps, you should add above-mentioned exercises to your upper body training sessions. The upper traps can be developed through common exercises such as shrugs and upright rows, while the mid-traps can be developed through pulling the shoulder blades together.
Do cable rows work traps?
Yes, cable rows do work the traps muscle. Cable rows are an excellent exercise to build middle back muscles, and this also works on mid and lower traps.
This cable trap exercises are highly recommended for anyone interested in bigger and who wants to gain strength.
If you do these cable trap exercises consistently, the results will speak for themselves.
Please let us know, in the comment section below, your favorite cable trap exercise!
Know More About Trap Training
1. Schoenfeld, Brad MSc, CSCS; Kolber, Morey J PT, PhD, CSCS; Haimes, Jonathan E BS, CSCS: The Upright Row: Implications for Preventing Subacromial Impingement. Strength and Conditioning Journal: October 2011 – Volume 33 – Issue 5 – p 25-28
2. Ronai, Peter MS, CSCS, RCEP: Exercise Modifications and Strategies to Enhance Shoulder Function. Strength and Conditioning Journal: August 2005 – Volume 27 – Issue 4 – p 36-45
3. McAllister M, Schilling B, Hammond K, Weiss L, Farney T. Effect of grip width on electromyographic activity during the upright row. J Strength Cond PMID: 22362088 DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31824f23ad
4.Cools AM, Witvrouw EE, Declercq GA, Danneels LA, Cambier DC. Scapular muscle recruitment patterns: Trapezius muscle latency with and without impingement symptoms. Am J Sports Med 31: 542–549, 2003.
5. Int J Environ Res Public Health. Trapezius muscle timing during selected shoulder rehabilitation exercises. 2021 Jun 14;18(12):6444. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18126444.PMID: 34198674
6. Lorenzetti S, Dayer R, Pluss M, List R. Pulling exercises for strength training and rehabilitation: movements and loading conditions. J Funct Morphol Kinesiol. 2017;2(3):33. doi:10.3390/jfmk2030033
7. Effects of Lower Trapezius Strengthening Exercises on Pain, Dysfunction, Posture Alignment, Muscle Thickness and Contraction Rate in Patients with Neck Pain; Randomized Controlled Trial
8. Selective recruitment of the lower fibers of the trapezius muscle.
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