As a woman, your traps get a workout every day if you wear a purse over your shoulder. The trapezius is responsible for keeping your shoulder elevated so your purse doesn't slip off it. The trapezius includes a pair of muscles that runs along your spine from your neck to the middle of your back. The traps are strengthened when you do movement exercises or isometrics, which are non-movement exercises.
Improve your traps by including movement exercises into your workout. One trap-improving exercise is a shoulder shrug in which you hold a dumbbell in both hands, with your arms straight, and shrug your shoulders toward your ears. Another example is a reverse fly in which you sit folded forward with a dumbbell in each hand and raise your arms out to the sides. Exercise machines such as the seated row also improve your traps.
You also improve your traps with isometric exercises. Isometrics are stationary exercises, meaning you do not lift and lower a weight, or move quickly in and out of a position. Instead, you contract the traps and remain in that position for 10 to 30 seconds. For example, shrug your shoulders and keep them in the upright position for your selected duration. Another way to isometrically strengthen the traps is to squeeze your shoulder blades together while keeping your chest lifted and your back in good posture. Maintain the squeeze for 10 to 30 seconds before you release, relax and repeat. Yoga poses, such as downward facing dog, also improve your trapezius in an isometric way.
Your trapezius workouts can be organized to improve your strength or endurance. For muscular strength, perform one to three sets, with eight to 12 repetitions in each set. For muscular endurance, increase the repetitions between 15 and 20. Use a resistance amount that causes muscular fatigue for the final two repetitions of each set. When all three sets become easy to do, increase the resistance.
Tips and Considerations
Exercising your traps and resting your traps are both important for your workout progress. Aim to do your trapezius exercises two or three days a week with at least one day of rest in between sessions. Train both sides of your traps equally, even if you feel that one side is already stronger from years of carrying your purse. On that note, wear your purse on a different shoulder from time to time to even out the look and feel of your traps.