Looking to build stronger, more defined back muscles? Then you wouldn’t be the only one looking for the best lower trap exercises.
The trapezius muscle (traps) is a large, kite-shaped muscle that goes from the middle of the back to the base of the neck, extending towards the shoulders.
It’s an essential muscle for good posture that also supports various upper body movements.
First, it’s worth mentioning the lower traps can be a hard muscle to isolate – especially when compared to the middle traps and upper traps.
That said, it is possible to strengthen and build the lower trap muscles by doing trap exercises in general, as well as slightly modifying the movement pattern of your reps.
So let’s look at how with the 7 best lower trap exercises for muscle gain and fat loss.
These lower trap exercises will increase back strength, build back muscle, and promote fat loss by burning calories!
1. Dumbbell Rows
First up, dumbbell rows. Dumbbell rows are one of the most popular back exercises due to how they are beginner-friendly and relatively easy to perform.
In addition to dumbbells, they can be done using a barbell, resistance band, or cables.
Dumbbell rows target all the main back muscles: the lats, rhomboids, and traps.
You can perform dumbbell rows standing, called bent over rows, or bent over a gym bench, called single-arm rows. Bent over rows use two dumbbells while single-arm rows use one dumbbell.
How To Perform A Bent Over Dumbbell Row
- Stand with your feet close together and bend forwards slightly, arching your lower back
- Make sure your knees are slightly bent are you are looking forward
- Hold the dumbbells with straight arms
- Lift the dumbbells towards your stomach as you bend your arms
- Bring your elbows up and squeeze your back muscles to fully engage the lats, rhomboids, and traps
- Lower the dumbbells to complete one rep
To activate and target your lower traps, make sure to perform each rep close to your stomach while squeezing your lower back.
For best form, depress and retract your shoulders blades, and control each rep without using momentum.
2. T-Bar Rows
As another effective rowing exercise, T-bar rows engage all the major back muscles, including the lats, rhomboids, and traps.
They involve the same posture and movement as bent over rows, but use a barbell (with weight plates on one end) instead of two dumbbells. A T-bar machine can also be used to perform T-bar rows.
How To Do A T-Bar Row
- Get into a half-squat position, bending your knees slightly while arching your lower back
- Grab the bar (or handles if you’re using a T-bar row machine) with both hands
- Similar to dumbbell rows, pull the weight into your stomach from a straight-arm position
- Bend your arms and bring your elbows back to squeeze and fully engage your back muscles
- Lower the weight to complete one rep
Just like dumbbell rows, make sure to bring the weight into your lower stomach and squeeze your lower back to engage and work the lower traps!
For best form, make sure to depress and retract your shoulders, as well as control the movement without using momentum.
Deadlifts are a compound pulling exercise that targets more muscle groups than any other exercise! These include the leg muscles and primary back muscles, including the traps.
A deadlift involves lifting a barbell off the floor from a squatting position, finishing the rep standing up with a straight back.
How To Do A Deadlift
- Stand over the barbell and line up the bar along the center of your feet
- Position your feet hip-width apart
- Get into a half-squat position and grip the bar with straight arms
- Push your feet into the ground and lift the bar, straightening your knees and back in the process
- Rise into a straight standing position to complete one rep
To make sure you target the lower traps, push your pelvis out and squeeze your lower back muscles at the top of each deadlift rep.
4. Rear Delt Cable Fly
Rear delt cable flys use a cable machine with the cables crossed over.
By pulling each cable back in a wide-arm position, the rear delts, lats, rhomboids, and trap muscles are fully activated, helping to increase back strength and muscle gain.
Rear delt cable flys are also beginner-friendly as the resistance (weight) can be easily adjusted on the cable machine.
Just make sure to set up the cables at the top of the machine and cross the cables over before starting the exercise.
How To Do Rear Delt Cable Flys
- Stand straight with your feet together and flat on the floor
- Grab the cable handles and cross over your wrist
- From a straight-arm position, pull each cable with wide but slightly bent arms
- Bring your elbows back, level with your ribcage, to squeeze and active your back muscles
- Maintain a wide-arm grip as you close your arms to complete one rep
To make sure you engage your lower traps, bring your elbows back close to your hips to target more of your lower back.
5. Cable Y Raise
Cable Y raises are similar to rear delt cable flys. The main difference is that the arms are pulled back in an overhead Y-shape using a low-to-high movement, targeting the lats, rhomboids, and traps.
Some people find cable Y raises more effective than rear delt cable flys for building back muscle, so they’re definitely worth trying out and including in your workout routine.
How To Do A Cable Y Raise
- Grab the low cable handles and cross over your wrist
- Pull each cable back with slightly bent arms
- Raise your arms above your head in a Y-shape
- Lower your arms to complete one rep
To effectively activate your lower traps, make sure to squeeze and engage your lower back as you form an overhead Y-shape with your arms.
If you have gymnastic rings at home, they can also be used to perform Y raises by attaching the rings to a pull up bar.
Grip the rings as if you are going to perform an Australian pull up, then pull your bodyweight as you raise your arms overhead into a Y-shape.
6. Face Pulls
Face pulls are one of the most effective exercises for engaging various muscles of the back, including the traps, rhomboids, lats, and rear delts.
They’re similar to cable Y raises and rear delt flys, except that the pulling motion is performed level with the face, hence the name.
Face pulls can be performed using a cable fly machine or a resistance band. Just make sure to set up whichever one you’re using so that you’ll be pulling the band or cable attachment level with your face.
How To Do Face Pulls
- Place your feet together and stand with a straight posture
- Pull the band or cable handle back, making sure to keep it level with your face
- Bring your elbows and hands back and squeeze your lower back muscles
- Straighten your arms to complete one rep
If you have gymnastic rings at home, they can also be used to perform face pulls by attaching the rings to a pull up bar.
Grip the rings as if you are going to perform an Australian pull up, then pull your elbows back as you bring the rings level with your ears.
7. Pull Ups
Pull ups are widely considered to be the ultimate back exercise. They engage all of the back muscles, plus the biceps, core, and hip flexors.
As a result, pull ups are a compound pulling exercise that can also effectively target the lower traps.
How To Do A Pull Up
- Grip the bar with a pronated grip and your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
- Place your feet together and engage your core
- Depress (lower) your shoulders and pull the bar to your chest
- Bring your elbows back to activate your back muscles
- Lower your body and return to a dead hang to complete one rep
If you’re still working towards your first pull up, you can still effectively perform the exercise (and work out your lower traps) using an assisted pull up machine or by doing resistance band pull ups.
And that wraps up our list of the 7 best lower trap exercises for muscle gain and fat loss.
These exercises will build defined trap muscles, improve back strength, and promote fat loss by helping you to burn calories.
Just make sure to practice good form to increase exercise effectiveness and reduce the risk of injury.
Add these exercises to your back day and don’t forget to rest between training days and eat a high amount of protein for faster muscle gains!