4 Trap Exercises for a Stronger Arm Drive
“I like to tell my clients, ‘Where the arms go, the legs will follow,’” Dane Miklaus, C.S.C.S., tells Runner’s World. It’s not just a verbal cue to utilise the power of their arm drive while running; it’s also a reminder to incorporate upper-body movements, especially trapezius (trap) exercises, into their strength training.
Miklaus compares the trapezius—the large upper back muscle used to move the head, neck, and shoulders, and twist the arms—to the foundation of a house. “Once a foundation is set, you can construct walls, windows, and doors. But without the foundation, none of that is possible,” he says. “Most of the arm swing itself is performed by your deltoid, pectoralis, teres major, and latissimus dorsi muscles, and, to a lesser extent, your biceps and triceps. However, none of them can operate effectively, if at all, without the trapezius group doing their job to ensure proper stability and function at the shoulder girdle.”
The trapezius is also a postural power player. Strengthening your upper back with trap exercises can help you maintain proper form, especially when fatigue sets in and your shoulders begin to round and hunch.
How to do it: Perform each exercise below for 45 seconds, resting 20 seconds between exercises. Repeat the full circuit a total of 3 times. You will need a large resistance band, two dumbbells, and an exercise mat.
Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand tall with shoulders back, chin parallel to the floor, and arms straight at your sides. Remain as vertical as possible and relax your traps (i.e., don’t shrug) as you slowly walk forward.
Overhead Reverse Lunge
Hold a pair of dumbbells above your head, arms straight and palms facing in. Step right foot straight back and bend knees to 90 degrees to drop down to a lunge position. Push through left heel to return to standing, then immediately step left foot straight back and bend knees to 90 degrees to drop down to a lunge position. Push through right heel to return to standing. Continue to alternate, completing as many reps as possible.
Plank With Dumbbell Raise
Start in a high plank position—wrists under shoulders, core engaged so body forms a straight line from heels to ankles, and feet in a wide stance—with right hand on a dumbbell. Keeping arms straight and hips steady, raise dumbbell to shoulder height, and then return dumbbell to floor. Complete as many reps as possible in the 45 seconds before switching sides.
Banded “A” Pull
Secure the middle of a large resistance band to an anchor point that’s a couple of feet higher than eye level. Grab each end of the band, palms facing in, and step back so that your hands are lifted by the band’s tension. This is the starting position. Allowing a slight bend in the elbows, brace your core, slide your shoulder blades down your back, and draw your knuckles down and back to either side of your waist, as if you were going to knock on a door behind you. Keep shoulder blades locked in place as you return to the starting position. Complete as many reps as possible.