Lower Traps: The Muscle Group You Forgot About
Whenever we talk about the back or building muscle we never really talk about the lower trapezius, but they are actually one of the most important parts of our body!
They are involved with the mobility and stability of the scapula. Also, they actually help move the scapula, and are a prime mover for scapular depression.
The lower lats help with posture and this is so important because if our posture is bad it can affect our back down the line.
If we also neglect our lower trapezius we can have shoulder joint misalignment and pain, and even arthritis.
So as you can see the lower traps are actually very important and vital for so many things in our body including strong and powerful shoulders.
Anatomy Of The Lower Trapezius
The lower trapezius involves a lot more muscles than you think. Let’s dive into what makes up the lower trapezius.
The lower trapezius is made up of the lowermost section of fibers in the trapezius muscle.
The lower trapezius actually originates from the lowest six thoracic vertebrae and it is in the most superficial layer of the muscle, sitting atop the rhomboids, lats, and infraspinatus.
It is one of the most forgotten muscles, but super important!
So let’s dive into exercises for maximal activation.
Lower Trapezius Exercises For Maximal Activation
So now that we know the anatomy of our lower traps, and why they are important we need to dive into exercises that activate the lower traps.
There are so many great exercises to choose from, but we chose 3 exercises that we think are perfect for maximal activation.
1. Cable Face Pulls
You can use a cable or even resistance band for this.
This exercise helps activate your lower traps, but also helps achieve external rotation, which helps with your scapular activation.
To start the exercise hold the cable or band with a thumbs up grip.
Kneel down with one knee on the floor.
Slowly pull the band or cable back and try to keep it above your mouth.
Hold this for 1 minute and slowly release.
Repeat anywhere from 10-15 sets.
2. Prone Y
This is a great exercise to activate your lower traps.
For this you will start laying on your stomach and slowly stretch your legs out straight behind you.
Your arms will be out to your side and make sure you rotate your arms so your thumbs point towards the ceiling.
As you exhale, lift both arms straight up, make sure you squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Keep your arms straight and keep your shoulders away from your ears.
Inhale your breath and release back down.
Try repeating this exercise for 8-15 reps.
3. Prone Lower Trapezius Strengthening/One Arm Tap
This exercise you will start laying face down on a flat bench or even a massage table.
Keep your spine in line with your head the whole time.
With a straight elbow slowly raise your arm up at 45 degrees until it level with your shoulder.
Make sure to do this exercise about 12 reps and 2 sets.
Don’t let this one fool you, it’s quite tricky!
Scapular Exercises For The Lower Trapezius
Another big part of activating the lower trapezius is including scapular exercises.
They can be simple or more advanced either way the most important part is that the scapula is being activated.
Try standing with your back to a wall, with your feet hip-distance apart.
From there make sure you are about 10 inches away from the wall. Your back and head should be touching the wall and from there slowly raise your arms overhead.
All the back of your arms to touch the wall behind you.
Then slowly bend your elbows and shoulders to about 90 degrees.
From there try sliding your elbows farther down the wall.
When doing this try to depress your shoulders, which will help with scapular depression and activation of your lower traps.
Release entire movement and repeat about 8-10 more times.
Another great exercise to work on scapular depression is unilateral scapular retraction, and prone horizontal abduction with external rotation.
Unilateral Scapular Retraction
Prone Horizontal Abduction With External Rotation
Both these exercises focus on retraction and depression of the scapula and strengthen the lower traps as well!
How To Strengthen The Lower Trapezius Once Activated
Once we have gotten our lower traps activated and ready to go we can finally strengthen them.
We have 4 great exercises that will definitely help strengthen your lower traps.
They are a great exercise to build strength in the lower traps.
Try using a narrow grip to place the work on your back instead of your biceps.
Why not try doing as many pull-ups as you can and then try each time to add a few more.
They are just like pull ups are a great exercise that targets the lower trapezius.
Make sure you are seated when doing the pull down, as sitting actually targets the lower traps.
Try sitting on a bench with your back straight or in neutral.
Pull the bar in front of you as far as you can, and be careful to control the weight as you let the bar go up.
The row is a great exercise to also really target the lower traps.
The bent-over row with a close grip and even an incline row are great exercises to include in your strength portion of your workout.
You definitely will feel your lower trapezius muscle working.
The reverse cable fly includes parts of the lower traps fibers and it’s a good exercise to engage and build strength within your lower traps.
You can use a cable machine, try standing facing the machine with your arms locked at the elbow and draw the handles back at chest level until your arms are back at your side.
Try controlling this motion as much as possible on the return, you will definitely feel the burn!
So overall do not forget to activate and work those lower traps!!
The lower trapezius helps with so many things including posture and scapular depression.
These are both vital for overall health and pain-free living. So try to add a few activation exercises to your next workout, or even activate your scapula.
From there don’t forget to strengthen your lower traps, you will definitely look and feel stronger.