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Upper Trapezius

The highest Maximal Isometric Voluntary Contraction (MVIC) is achieved with elevation of scapula. It also helps the scapula move upward.. During scapular abduction, UT activity progressively increases from 0° to 60° and from 120° to 180° of abduction.(1)

Researchers have found that the highest electromyographical (EMG) activity occurs in the following exercises:

unilateral shoulder shrug(9)
scaption (8)

shoulder abduction in the scapular plane above 120° (9)

UT weakness is very rare (unless secondary to neurological involvement), clinicians focus on strengthening middle and lower trapezius and normalizing the activation ratio of UT to the lower two trapezius (MT and LT).



Middle Trapezius


MT is often activated with scapular retraction. The highest MVIC for the MT has been recorded during the following exercises:

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