Trap 3 raise. How to get a stronger/bigger upper body.

Posted by & filed under Exercise and Training.

We are only as strong as we are stable.  If the shoulders are not sitting where they should and the shoulder stabilisers are not kicking in when we move our arms, our progress will be limited.  The two sets of muscles that are typically underdeveloped are the lower trapezius and the external rotator cuff.  We can blame life style for that!

The trapezius muscle is a large diamond shaped muscle on our upper back,  that pulls the shoulders up, draws them together and also pulls them downwards.  The downward portion is referred to as either the lower traps or trap 3. The exercise in the video is aimed at strengthening the trap 3.  The video is clear:

  1. Choose a depressingly light dumbbell.
  2. Take a split stance, with the opposite leg to the working arm forwards – or you can work with your legs together, knees bent.
  3. Tip from the hips, so the back is straight, and place your head on the back of your hand, which you rest on the top of an upright bench.  If in doubt, stick your bottom right out.  This will help lengthen the back.
  4. The working arm is now dangling.  Keeping it straight, pull your shoulder blade back, being careful to slightly roll the front of the shoulder back.
  5. Now lift the dumbbell up at an angle of 45°, thumb up.  Lower the dumbbell under control – taking 4 seconds is an optimal tempo.
  6. Let the arm dangle again, then re-engage the shoulder and repeat.

Whilst it is very important to get some welly into the lower traps, there is a catch.  The muscle generally engages reasonably well on the dominant side, but is a bit of a bugger to get going on the other.  This is because for most of us, the non-dominant shoulder sits slightly higher than the dominant one, meaning the upper traps are firing away most of the time and therefore it is rather hard to make the lower traps do anything at all.  So good luck with this exercise.

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