Strength training the back muscles, including the lower trapezius, is important for shoulder stability and function. Having strong lower trapezius muscles can also improve the overall width and look of your back. The trapezius is responsible for the upward rotation of the shoulder blade which occurs when you raise your arm overhead. Other functions of the trapezius include scapular elevation, adduction and depression. Strengthening exercises for the lower trapezius focus on these movements.
The stability ball "Y" exercise is an excellent way to improve the strength and function of the lower trapezius. Start by laying face down on a stability ball with your toes pressed into the floor. Position your chest over the ball and extend your arms at a 45-degree angle above your head. Point your thumbs to the ceiling and keep your elbows straight throughout the range of motion for the exercise. Slowly raise your arms as high as possible by squeezing your shoulder blades together by flexing your lower trapezius and upper back. Hold for about three to five seconds at the top and slowly lower your arms to the floor. Repeat for a total of 10 repetitions and three sets. Add light dumbbells--2.5 to 5 lbs.--as you increase strength in the lower trapezius.
Seated cable rows are a functional compound exercise that works the lower trapezius, as well as other muscles in the back. Set up a low cable machine with a flat bench and foot plate placed next to the handle. Place your feet flat on the foot plate with your knees slightly bent and sit upright with your abs tight. Grab the handle of the cable machine and pull the handle to your chest without moving your torso. Focus on pulling your elbows into your sides by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Continue pulling until the handle reaches your abdomen and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 repetitions and three sets.
Pulldowns are a classic back exercise that strengthens the lower trapezius. Grab the pulldown bar with an overhand grip about shoulder-width apart. Sit upright with your abs tight and arms directly overhead. Start the downward pull of the cable with a slight lean backward in the torso. Continue pulling straight down by pulling the elbows into your sides and squeezing the shoulder blades together. Gently touch the bar to the top of the chest and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for a total of 10 repetitions and three sets.
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