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

Push-ups are a great exercise.

We’ve said it many times before and we’ll almost certainly say it many more times again.

They’re highly adaptable and are at home in pretty much any type of training program you can think of.

They do a great job of working your chest, arms, shoulders, core, and even your back too.

However, it’s worth diving a bit deeper into the various parts of your body that push-ups can actually help build and develop.

In this article, we’re looking at whether push-ups are good for your traps.

We discuss whether different variations of push-ups are better suited to targeting your traps, as well as looking at some of the reasons why your traps might be sore after doing push-ups.

Woman doing a push up in a crossfit gym

Do Push-Ups Work Traps?

On their own, push-ups aren’t particularly effective at working your traps.

Despite causing activation in multiple upper body muscles, push-ups don’t really require your traps to do much during the exercise.

Obviously, your chest, shoulders, and arms will likely see the most benefits from push-ups, as these are the muscle groups that are working the hardest.

Your core, back, and leg muscles will also benefit from push-ups too (although this will vary depending on what variation of the exercise you are doing).

Your traps simply aren’t needed in push-ups.

As they don’t need to do much work, they don’t need to activate, and they aren’t put under much stress, push-ups aren’t very good at helping to build and develop your traps.

Do Handstand Push-Ups Work Traps?

Man doing a handstand push-up on a carpet in front of a red wall

Handstand push-ups are an extremely challenging push-up variation.

Not only do they put a lot of focus on your shoulders, lats, triceps, and chest, but they also bring your traps into play much more than regular push-ups.

This makes sense when you think about your body position during the exercise.

Pretty much all of your body weight is being supported by the area of your upper body immediately surrounding your shoulders.

As your traps are located here, they’re put under much more stress than they are in other push-up variations.

Handstand push-ups will not be an appropriate exercise for everyone, but if you have the strength and fitness levels to do them correctly, they can be very good at working your traps.

Do Pike Push-Ups Work Traps?

Yes, pike push-ups work your traps.

In a similar way to handstand push-ups, pike push-ups move a lot of the focus of the exercise onto your shoulders and the surrounding area of your upper body.

The almost inverted body position (think of an upside down v), puts your shoulders and traps under lots of stress when going through the push-up movement.

Pike push-ups are a very effective push-up variation, particularly if you’re trying to build up to be able to do handstand push-ups more comfortably.

They will work multiple upper body muscle groups including your traps.

Do Decline Push-Ups Work Traps?

Woman doing a decline push-up with her feet elevated on some stairs

Yes, but not to the same extent as other variations.

Decline push-ups are a hard variation that are great at moving the focus of the exercise onto your upper chest and shoulders.

While your traps will have a bigger role to play in decline push-ups than they do in regular push-ups, they still probably aren’t enough for building and developing your traps on their own.

If you want to move the main focus of push-ups further up to the top of your upper body, decline push-ups could be a great addition to your training program.

Do Incline Push-Ups Work Traps?

Incline push-ups aren’t particularly effective when it comes to targeting your traps.

While they’re definitely a great push-up variation, they’re better suited to those gym-goers who are trying to build a big chest, shoulders, and triceps.

As your traps are in a high position, they aren’t placed under much stress during the exercise which means they don’t have to work very hard.

If your traps aren’t working hard, then they won’t be growing and developing.

Do Diamond Push-Ups Work Traps?

Man doing a close-grip push-up in a gym

Primarily, diamond push-ups are done to shift the main focus of push-ups onto your triceps.

Your shoulders also come into play, as does your chest, but your traps aren’t really needed in this variation.

If you want to work your triceps hard then diamond push-ups are a great choice.

However, there are much more effective push-up variations out there that will work your traps to a greater extent.

What’s The Best Type Of Push-Ups For Traps?

Out of all the push-up variations we have spoken about, handstand push-ups and pike push-ups will be the two best types for your traps.

In both of these variations, your shoulders and traps are placed under the most stress.

This means that your shoulders and traps will have to do a lot of the work in order to make the push-up movement happen.

There are many push-up variations out there but handstand push-ups and pike push-ups are two of the best types for your traps.

Why Do You Get Sore Traps After Push-Ups?

The most common reason for having sore traps after push-ups will likely be poor technique.

Making even small errors in your push-up technique can move the focus onto muscles outside of the target areas of the exercise.

If your traps are sore after doing push-ups, you should stop and double-check your technique is 100% correct before continuing.

Something else to keep in mind if you have sore traps after push-ups is that this could be a sign that you have an injury.

While push-ups are usually a very safe exercise, sometimes things do go wrong and an injury can occur.

If you think the soreness you’re feeling could be caused by an injury, it would be sensible to speak to a medical professional who can advise the best course of action for you.


In summary:

  • Push-ups aren’t great when it comes to building trap muscles.
  • Some variations of push-ups, like pike push-ups and handstand push-ups, activate your traps more than others.

That’s all for this article, but do push ups burn back fat? Or perhaps you’re interested in Hindu push ups vs regular push ups?

Hope this helped!


Push-Ups Muscles Worked