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Do Chin-Ups Work Traps? (Explained For Beginners)

If you’re wondering whether chin-ups work traps, then you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, I answer whether chin-ups are good for traps, and why you may get sore traps after doing chin-ups.

Man doing a chin-up outdoors

Do Chin-Ups Work Upper Traps?

Yes, to some degree your upper traps will be working during chin-ups.

Your traps play more of a stabilising role during chin-ups, so they won’t be working as hard as the other muscles used in the movement.

That being said though, your upper traps certainly do have a role to play in chin-ups so, while they may not be the most effective trap-building exercise, chin-ups can help with upper trap development.

Do Chin-Ups Work Lower Traps?

Yes, chin-ups work your lower traps.

Your lower traps are an important muscle in chin-ups, so you should get some good trap-building benefits from doing them on a regular basis.

Lower traps can be quite hard to target, but chin-ups seem to do a good job of hitting them and helping them get bigger and stronger.

Why Do You Get Sore Traps After Chin-Ups?

Muscle Weakness

Your traps aren’t always as strong as the other muscles used in chin-ups.

This can be one of the reasons why you get sore traps after chin-ups, as your traps may have to work harder to keep up with the other working muscles.

Chin-ups are a hard exercise to perform so any muscles that are even slightly weaker can be quite sore following the movement.

As your traps tend to be one of the weaker muscles involved in chin-ups, discomfort and soreness after doing them can be a pretty common occurrence.

Normal Muscular Discomfort

After doing any exercise, you’ll likely feel some discomfort in the working muscles.

This is because, during exercise, microscopic tears form in the muscles which leads to discomfort afterwards.

Your traps are involved in chin-ups so you can expect some soreness and discomfort after doing them.

As long as the soreness you’re feeling is mild, this is likely perfectly normal to feel after chin-ups.


Topless man feeling his traps

There’s always a chance that sore traps after chin-ups can be the result of an injury.

While chin-ups are generally a safe exercise to do, things can still go wrong sometimes.

If you’ve picked up an injury during your workout, your traps could be sore after chin-ups.

How To Target Your Traps More During Chin-Ups

One of the easiest ways to target your traps more during chin-ups is to get your chest as close to the bar as possible at the highest point of the movement.

By doing this, you encourage as much trap activation as possible which can make a big difference in the development of the muscle.

It’s worth keeping in mind that your traps mostly act as stabilisers during chin-ups, but they have to activate and do some of the work to make the movement happen.

If you lift your chest up as high as possible, you stand a good chance of getting the most benefit possible from your chin-ups.

Are Chin-Ups Better Than Pull-Ups For Building Traps?

Pull-ups switch the focus of the exercise more from the front of your body onto the back of your body.

While chin-ups work your biceps and chest more, pull-ups work your traps and lats to a greater degree.

This means that, normally, pull-ups will be a better choice for targeting your traps.

Other Exercises To Build Your Traps


Perhaps the most famous and most common trap exercise, shrugs do a great job of working your traps hard and can help you make some good progress toward your fitness goals.

Shrugs can be done with a barbell or with dumbbells depending on your preference and the equipment you have available.

If you’re trying to make some big gains in the development of your traps, then shrugs will likely be a very important part of your training program.

Farmers Walk

Two men doing farmers walk in a crossfit gym

A very simple exercise in that you just have to carry a heavy weight in each hand with your arms down by your side, and then go for a walk.

The weights pulling down on your traps can actually work them much harder than you might think and they can be a very challenging exercise to perform. 

Farmers’ walk can be done with heavy dumbbells or any other weights that can be safely and securely held.

Your forearms will also take a bit of a beating as you’ll need a strong grip to do the exercise effectively.


Interestingly, some types of push-ups work your traps.

While you won’t get as much trap development as from other exercises, these can still give you a nice burn.


In summary:

  • Chin-ups work both upper and lower traps, although they focus more on lower traps.
  • If you want to build big traps, you should do chin-ups alongside some trap-specific exercises.

That’s all for this article, but do chin-ups work lats? Or do chin-ups work forearms?

Hope this helped!


Chin-Ups Muscles Worked