Your trapezius muscle, or traps, can be segmented into three regions: upper, middle and lower. When performing a workout for your traps on a Smith Machine, you need to balance the workout. The tendency is to overdevelop the upper traps and neglect the lower traps, which protects your shoulder joint, according to Frederic Delavier's вЂњThe Strength Training Anatomy.вЂќ The resulting imbalance can lead to injury. A trapezius work out typically consists of shrugs and upright rows, which both focus on the upper traps. Perform reverse push-ups to build your lower and middle traps.
As an isolation exercise for your upper traps, the shrug also works your rhomboids and deltoids. By using a Smith Machine for the exercise, you can increase the amount of weight you use, according to Meyer & Meyer Sport's вЂњEncyclopedia of Muscle Exercises.вЂќ You can grip the bar either in front or behind your body. To perform the exercise, stand in the machine and take hold of the unlatched bar with a pronated, or overhanded, grip on the fronts of your quads. Position both your hands and feet shoulder-width distance apart. Raise your shoulders up to your ears, fully extending your arms. Maintain the contraction for a second before lowering the bar to your start position.
Tips and Considerations
When doing shrugs on the Smith Machine, you can change the distance of your grip to work your traps from different angles. For example, a narrow grip will provide a better stretch but limit the contraction. A wider grip offers a better contraction but restricts the stretch's range of motion, according to Delavier. It also enables you to target the region of the upper traps that is farthest back. Your upper traps sit close to your cervical vertebrae. If you continually contract these muscles, it can result in headaches. Be aware that heavy weights can compress your lower spine, which can lead to back injury. Also keep your chin straight. If you tilt your head back and lift your chin, you can put too much pressure on the nerves in your neck.
The primary advantage of using the Smith Machine to do an upright row is that you can focus on lifting the bar rather than trying to balance yourself, according to Meyer & Meyer Sport. You can also perform a set to muscle failure without risking injury. To perform the exercise, stand with your feet a few inches apart and your trunk straight and contracted. Take hold of the bar in front of your thighs, using a pronated, or overhanded, grip. Position your hands slightly narrower than shoulder-width distance apart. Lift the bar up to your neck. Keep your elbows lifted and above your hands. Inhale as you lift the weight and exhale as you lower the bar back to the starting position.
To blast your middle and lower traps, perform reverse push-ups with the Smith Machine. Set the bar on the machine at waist height. Lie supine under the bar and take hold of the bar with a overhanded grip. Hang from the bar, extending your arms and keeping your back straight. Position your body at a 45-degree angle to the ground, using your heels as your support. Pull your chest up to the bar until you reach the area between your sternum and mid-chest. Keep your elbows pointing down and in line with your hands and forearms as you pull yourself up to the bar and while at the bar. Slowly return to your starting position and repeat.
About the Author
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.