Toning the Traps for Stronger Neck Muscles

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

You might not think much about toning the neck area when you work out but there are benefits to strong neck muscles.

The neck is made up of the trapezius muscle. It’s a large muscle that covers the upper back. It supports and balances the arms. A toned neck muscle promotes proper posture. It also helps maintain arm and shoulder stability. Exercising the trapezius muscle results in larger traps.

The traps are the muscles that bulk up on either side of the neck and the top of the shoulders. By building larger straps, your form is more consistent. It will also allow you to lift heavy objects with ease.

How to Build Large, Powerful Traps

There are many types of exercise that will tone and build traps strength. The following exercises not only tone the trapezius muscle, they also build strength and definition on the neck area:


The easiest part of the trapezius muscle to tone is the upper portion. Shrugs will help you do that. It’s the best exercise to achieve larger straps. Shrugs will put heavy weight on the muscles to build strength and power. This is an advanced exercise so perform shrugs carefully. Never roll your shoulders when performing shrugs. Doing so might damage your rotator cuff.

Upper Rows

Another excellent workout to tone and define the traps! Upper rows put weight on your traps directly. The wide range of motion also helps strengthen the shoulders. This leads to faster muscular growth. Again, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Too much weight could cause shoulder damage. Just like shrugs, you might sustain a tear on your rotator cuff if you are not careful. You can ask your trainer how to achieve the proper form and how to work the machine.

Cable Row

Want to achieve thicker, more powerful straps? Add this to your exercise routine. Cable row engages the lats, but it will also tone the traps as long as you achieve the right form. This exercise could be the best way to engage intermediate muscle fibers. Make sure your shoulder blades are together when performing this exercise. This helps concentrate the stress on your trapezius muscles. You don’t need a machine to do this. You can use dumbbells or barber rows. Using the T-bar also works to tone the trapezius muscle.

Pull Ups

Although underrated, pull ups also help keep build stronger trapezius muscles. It’s best for working both inferior and intermediate muscle fibers. Pull ups will also help you achieve larger, intimidating traps. For those that can’t do pull ups, you can substitute with lateral pull downs instead.

Neck Exercises

Neck exercises ease tension from the neck muscles. It also helps tone the muscle fibers. Below are two neck exercises you need to add to your routine for stronger traps:

Partner-Assisted Lateral Flexion

Flexion means moving against resistance by turning your head sideways. In this workout, your partner will provide resistance using his hands. When doing this routine, move slowly to achieve smoother range of motion.

Partner-Assisted Twists

Rather than swinging your head sideways, you swing your head around. Your partner should feel the level of tension developed against his yielding resistance. Again, the key is slow, smooth range of motion. No jerky movement or overexertion; these could cause unnecessary strain on the neck muscles.

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