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Overactive Traps: How to Build Shoulders Without Working Your Traps

    Many people have a common issue when trying to build their shoulders. They develop overactive or overly-built traps. This is primarily due to the technique used to develop the muscles in the shoulder. Luckily, there are ways to counteract and continue building shoulders without traps or with lesser trap involvement. Here’s how to build shoulders without working your traps.

    To build your shoulders without building your traps, you will need to focus on keeping your shoulder blades back and down and ensure that you do not shrug. Depending on the exercise, you also need to concentrate on other areas to reduce the use of your traps and keep building shoulders without traps.

    How To Build Shoulders Without Working Your Traps new

    In addition to areas to focus on that reduce the involvement of your traps during your shoulder workout, I will guide you through exercises you can do to develop your shoulders without using your traps. Also, see Best Calisthenics Shoulder Workouts for more tips.

    Naturally, you can do some shoulder-building activities with a technique improvement, another area of focus you will find below.

    Check the products below if you are in a hurry to see the best dumbells to help you build your shoulders without working your traps.

     

    How Can I Build My Shoulders Without Traps? 🏋️‍♀️

    How-Can-I-Build-My-Shoulders-Without-Traps

    The main focal point for building shoulders without traps is to concentrate on your technique and focus on allowing your traps to relax.

    To help you relax your traps, you can focus on using other muscles or muscle groups and concentrate on keeping your shoulders back and down.

    When doing shoulder exercises, ensure you are not shrugging your shoulders. 

    Your traps develop during muscle-building activities because of the body’s natural inclination to spread the strain.

    When building your shoulders, your body allows your traps to do some of the work your shoulders should be doing.

    Though the activation of a muscle group is helpful to help us function properly and without hurting ourselves too much, this is something you want to avoid when trying to build one specific muscle or area. Learn more in our post Back And Shoulder Workouts For Women At Home.

    If you wish to develop your shoulders without using your traps, keep your shoulders back and down and focus on preventing those muscles from helping you move your arms.

     

    How to Do Popular Exercises Without Using Your Traps? 🤸‍♂️

    Talking about what you could be doing wrong and explaining what you should be doing can be tricky without an example.

    For this reason, I have listed two of the most commonly adopted exercises used to build your shoulder and attempted to explain how to do them to reduce the involvement of your traps.

     

    Shoulder Press

    How to Do a Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

    To do a shoulder press without using traps, you must primarily focus on lowering your shoulders and keeping them backward.

    Doing this is easy when you understand the entire exercise.

    Before I explain the steps, I will assume that you know what it is and follow my directions accordingly.

    In the shoulder press exercise, you want to bend your arms to form a 90-degree angle with a dumbbell in each hand.

    Woman Shoulder Press

    While keeping your arms in that position, you should be able to tell if you are shrugging your shoulders or not.

    The main reason why we try to shrug our shoulders during this exercise is that our traps are trying to help us achieve the goal of lifting the weight.

    However, shrugging your shoulders during this activity will only build your traps more, not what we want.

    When doing this exercise, focus on allowing your shoulders to push backward and down while allowing them to relax.

    Concentrating on your posture will enable you to lessen your traps’ work while focusing more on the rest of your shoulders. 

    Here are our top three recommended dumbells to help with your exercises.

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    Lifepro Adjustable Dumbbell - 5-in-1, 25lb dumbell Adjustable Free Weights Plates and Rack - Hand Weights for Women and Men - Adjustable Weights, 5lb, 10lb, 15lb, 20lb, 25lb (25 Pounds - Pair)
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    Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbell
    Lifepro Adjustable Dumbbell
    Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells
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    Preview
    Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (pair)
    Product Name
    Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbell
    Set Of Two Dumbbells
    Adjustable
    Wider Weight Range
    Up to 52.5 pounds
    Interested?
    Best Plates
    Preview
    Lifepro Adjustable Dumbbell - 5-in-1, 25lb dumbell Adjustable Free Weights Plates and Rack - Hand Weights for Women and Men - Adjustable Weights, 5lb, 10lb, 15lb, 20lb, 25lb (25 Pounds - Pair)
    Product Name
    Lifepro Adjustable Dumbbell
    Set Of Two Dumbbells
    Adjustable
    Wider Weight Range
    Up to 25 pounds
    Interested?
    Best Connector Options
    Preview
    Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells - 50 lb Dumbbell Weights (Pair)
    Product Name
    Yes4All Adjustable Dumbbells
    Set Of Two Dumbbells
    Adjustable
    Wider Weight Range
    Up to 50 pounds
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    Lateral Raises

    Dumbbell Side Lateral Raises

    Now that you know the basics, I will explain how to do lateral raises without traps.

    Again, I will assume you have done this exercise before and explain the rest accordingly.

    For a better understanding, watch the video below.

    Lateral raises are a great way to build your shoulder muscle with a big focus on the deltoids.

    However, this exercise is also excellent and prone to developing your traps. To perform lateral raises without building your traps, you must focus on keeping your shoulders down.

    While doing lateral raises, focus on the movement of your shoulders, use a mirror if you can, and monitor if you are using your traps while exercising. Shrugging your shoulders is the most common problem while you do the raise.

    Ensure you focus on keeping your shoulders down and not shrugging when you lift.

    Doing this will let you rely less on your traps and help shoulder development.

     

    How to Avoid Getting Big Traps 🏃‍♀️

    How to Avoid Getting Big Traps

    Though big traps are usually desirable in men who work out, this might not be as desirable for most women.

    As some women love to work out regularly, there will naturally be some areas of your body that develops and becomes more prominent.

    However, is there any way to avoid getting big traps?

    Watch the video below to find out.

    Though there isn’t a perfect way to avoid developing your traps, there is a way to counteract overactive traps.

    Doing this is the same as what I have explained above, good posture and ensuring that you allow your traps to relax while working out.

    For women trying to avoid getting big traps, you should avoid the following exercises if possible: 

    • Overhead Shoulder Press (with a bar) 
    • Trap Raises 

    To maintain good posture and keep your traps from being too active, you must keep your shoulders back and avoid shrugging.

    keep your shoulders back

    Though shrugging your shoulders is learned from childhood, there is another reason for doing this while working out, the weight we are trying to lift.

    If you struggle to hold your shoulders down and back, you should consider doing your exercises with a slightly lighter weight.

    As you get used to the new form of lifting and your muscles grow, you will be able to increase your weight again without placing too much stress on your body and using your traps.

    One of the simplest ways to get used to this new technique is to apply it to your daily life and fix your posture.

    Try standing straight, turning your arms, so your wrists point forward, and tightening your core slightly.

    If you are doing it right, that should be your posture most of the time. While doing this, remember to keep your shoulders down and try not to shrug.

    Frequently Asked Questions 🤔

    By now, you know the basics of doing exercises without overusing your traps.

    Nevertheless, you may have other questions.

    I have taken some of the most common questions we receive on this topic and answered them below.

    Are Traps a Part of My Back or Shoulders

    Are Traps a Part of My Back or Shoulders

    Though your traps allow you to move your shoulders freely, they form a part of your back, not your shoulders.

    The upper, middle and lower trapezius muscles form a group of muscles.
    They make a diamond shape on your back when seen as a whole. This muscle group spans from the back of your head and neck, down your back, and alongside your spine.

    How Can I Reduce the Size of Traps

    How Can I Reduce the Size of Traps

    There is no single way to reduce the size of your traps.
    If the size of your traps is bothering you, the best thing to do is focus on not using them.

    If you have gone through and applied all of the advice discussed above and still notice that your traps are growing, you might need to see a professional for tips.

    However, there is one other thing you can try before going to a professional.

    If you struggle to keep your traps relaxed while working out, you can stretch and massage your traps before the activity starts. 
    Doing this will put the trapezius muscle in a relaxed state that might help you concentrate on not using it.

    Another thing you can do, though many avoid it for fear of feeling like they are going backward, is lower your weight.

    Though this seems counterintuitive when building muscle, it is better to work the right muscle using less weight than continuing with a higher weight and being disappointed by the results.

    Why Should I Not Build My Traps?

    Why Should I Not Build My Traps

    The most common reason you might want to avoid building your traps is that they are overactive or overly built.

    Though this isn’t an issue for everyone, it isn’t uncommon either.
    When building your shoulders, and many other body parts, you might unintentionally be developing your traps.

    It is a common problem that people who work out find that their traps are disproportionately large compared to the rest of their muscle gains and want to lessen the trap’s growth while still working on the rest. 

    Another reason you might not want to build your traps is because of the way it looks. Though working out and building muscle is what some people desire, this is not the case for others.

    Some people prefer to develop only specific areas of their body. This is especially true for women who take pride in their appearance but do not want to look “muscular.”

    How Do You Relax an Overactive Trapezius Muscle?

    How Do You Relax an Overactive Trapezius Muscle

    One effective way to help you stop using your traps when building muscle is to help it relax.
    You can help your Trapezius muscle relax by rubbing, massaging, or stretching it before a workout.

    Some of the best stretches you should do to help you achieve this are:

    Scapular Pinches – Try rolling the shoulders back and attempting to “pinch” the shoulder blades together. 
    Neck Side-Bending – This stretch’s name is self-explanatory, but if you are uncertain, all you need to do is lie your head on your shoulder without lifting it. Once in position, hold it for a second and then do the same on the other side. You can repeat this as needed.
    Shoulder Shrugs – Funnily enough, what you don’t want to do during a workout, might help you relax the traps. Stand straight and lift your shoulders close to your ears before bringing them down again. This stretch will help you relax your traps before a workout.

    Conclusion 🤗

    Build your shoulders without building your traps

    As discussed above, there are easy ways to improve your workout and lessen the chance of overactive traps.

    However, if you were looking for how to build shoulders without working your traps, you can see that your posture is the best place to start.

    By fixing your posture and how you carry yourself, you will be balancing your body better and allowing yourself to get used to the new form even without working out.

    Check out our posts Collarbone Exercises and Shoulder Workout Machines Exercises for more tips.

    Last update on 2022-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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    James Wright

    James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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