Get Massive Traps
Tips and workouts to get that massive traps
If you want your back to stand out, you’re going to have to become a trap king.
Well-developed traps (aka the trapezius, or trapezoid) can be the key to a well-developed, awe-inspiring back. The long, triangle-shaped muscle takes up a ton of real estate on the top half of your back, so you can seriously change the topography of your upper body by building it up.
Besides adding size to your back and shoulders, you’ll also improve strength in nearly every upper-body lift — traps are the key to scapular and spinal movement, so everything from shrugging your shoulders to supporting your arms stems from the muscle.
Start now, with these 13 great traps exercises.
1. Dumbbell Farmer’s Walk
How to do it: Choose a total load that’s equivalent or greater than your body weight. Hold a dumbbell in either hand, and walk quickly yet smoothly with them for 50-100 yards.
Why they’re effective: “If you’ve ever watched the world’s strongest man events you’ve probably noticed that every competitor has enormous traps,” Seedman says. That’s because of the sheer number of farmer’s walks and loaded carries they perform. “Besides being a highly functional movement, the farmers walk is one of, if not, the single most potent mass builders for the traps, upper back, shoulders and neck. It’s actually an excellent exercise for strengthening the muscles along your spine, safeguarding against injury or strengthening your back after a pre-existing one.
2. Heavy Barbell Shrug with Maximal Isometric Contraction
How to do it: Load up a barbell with the heaviest load you can handle. Focus on staying tall and maintaining an upright posture while you hold the barbell with an overhand grip and shrug your shoulders straight up and down, not forward or back. At the top of the shrug, when you’re in the contracted position, pause for several seconds. Don’t let your shoulders round over or your head protrude forward; your head should remain rigid throughout the entire exercise.
Why they’re effective: “Barbell shrugs are undoubtedly the single most common trap exercise you’ll see performed in the gym,” Seedman says. The problem is most guys have terrible form. Instead of stimulating growth in your traps, you’ll create postural deficiencies, meaning you can mess with your spinal alignment.
3. Hex Bar Deadlift
How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your hips back to lower your hands and grip the bar’s handles in the middle. Your lower back should be flat. Inhale and engage your abs. Stick your chest out and look in front of you, not at the ground. Drive your heels into the floor as you begin lifting the bar. Stand up, squeezing your glutes as you lock out your hips.
Why it’s effective: “If you’re looking for an all-in-one move that crushes your entire body while inducing hypertrophy in your traps and upper back, the hex bar deadlift is it,” Seedman says. It’s also safer than a typical deadlift. Rather than having the barbell loaded in front of your body, which puts you at a greater risk of hurting your lower back and spine, the hex bar fits around your body, placing the load to the sides of your torso. Better yet, this lets you lift heavier loads, complete broader rep ranges, and create high levels of tension and stretch throughout your upper back and traps.
4. Hang Clean and Hang Snatch
How to do it: Starting from a tall standing position with the bar in your hands, hinge over at the hips until the barbell is just above your knees. Make sure to keep your hips set back and your back slightly arched. Next, extend your hips forward and shrug your shoulders forcefully, allowing the weight to ride up along your body. From here, catch the barbell on your shoulders for the clean or above your head for the snatch.
Why it’s effective: “Olympic lifters are notorious not only for their ability to produce an extremely high power output but also for having incredibly developed upper back and trapezius muscles, Seedman says. “Majority of this can be attributed to the actual Olympic lifts they perform because they elicit growth and strength gains.” The hang clean and hang snatch variations are slightly more user-friendly variations of Olympic lifts since they’re performed from a partial deadlift position—just above your knees—rather than from the floor.
5. Power Shrug
How to do it: Begin with the same partial hinge position described for the hang cleans and hang snatches above: Assume a tall standing position with the bar in your hands, hinged at the hips so the barbell is just above your knees. From here, extend your hips forward, and flex your feet as if you were going to jump; then shrug your shoulders forcefully by really engaging your trap muscles.
Why it’s effective: “The power shrug is an explosive exercise that involves powerful hip drive followed immediately by an aggressive shrug at the top of the movement,” Seedman says. “This move is exceptional for targeting the fast-twitch fibers of your upper back and traps since the high power output forces you to activate so many of them.”
6. Overhead Squat
How to do it: Using a very wide grip, hold the bar overhead and slightly behind your head, then squat down until your thighs are about parallel to the floor. As you squat, simultaneously focus on pressing against the barbell to push you into the position and pushing the bar slightly back. This will help you maintain balance, Seedman says.
Why it’s effective: You probably think of squats as a leg-dominant exercise, but the overhead squat is an exception. The amount of tension this variation places on your whole upper back, traps, and shoulders makes it extremely upper body-intensive. “Besides requiring greater motor control and muscle activation, this technique will accrue greater total time under tension for your upper back and shoulders, which can be highly effective for increasing size and strength gains in your traps,
7. Push Press
How to do it: To perform this movement effectively you’ll either start by cleaning the weight to your upper chest and shoulders, or you can unrack the barbell from a power rack, Seedman says. From there, move into a partial squat by slightly dipping at the knees, then forcefully driving the weight overhead in one swift motion. Once you lock the weight out overhead, pause in the top position for several seconds to gain complete control of the weight.
Why it’s effective: “The barbell push press is one of the single most effective strength and mass builders for the entire upper body,” Seedman says. “It also does wonders for crushing your traps—particularly at the top of the movement as you drive the weight overhead.”Pages: