Overdeveloped Traps

How do you keep traps from overdeveloping? I find that when I lift weights, no matter how much I focus on not engaging my traps, I end up with really gigantic traps. Help!

The trapezius muscles, known colloquially as “traps”, are important shoulder blade and neck muscles that contribute to shoulder blade stabilization as well as arm elevation. There are upper fibers and lower fibers. The upper fibers of the trapezius elevate the shoulder blade and extend the neck and are most prominent visually.

Overexerting during workouts that involve neck extension and arm elevation can preferentially strengthen the upper traps leading to muscle hypertrophy and the appearance of “overdeveloped traps”. In addition, stress and poor posture are associated with overcompensation of the upper traps which can lead to hypertrophy and overbalance. Finally, rotator cuff weakness and shoulder blade weakness (scapular dyskinesis) can lead to upper traps hypertrophy. Aside from just concerns about appearance and muscle imbalance, overdeveloped traps can also lead to muscle hypertonicity and spasm, which can be associated with tension headaches.  It is therefore important to be cognizant of these numerous causes and address each factor to minimize the risk of trap hypertrophy.