If looking powerful and intimidating is your goal, then developing a monster set of traps is a priority!
As you may already know, trapezius muscles run from the shoulders to the neck on the upper part of your back. With this being the case, shrugs are often looked at as the most effective means of building up the traps. However, numerous other exercises also incorporate the use of traps such as deadlifts, rows, curls, and just about any type of press.
Seeing as how traps are utilized in so many different lifts, you'd think bodybuilders would be all about developing strong traps. But actually, the opposite is true because many bodybuilders don't like doing specific trapezius exercises. The limited range of motion makes trap exercises more difficult to do than compound movements.
Another reason why people like to skip out on trap-related exercises is because building traps too big can make a person appear as if they have no neck. Going even further, over-developed traps can make your shoulders look extremely narrow, which is never conducive to a good physique.
But the truth is that you'll rarely encounter these problems as long as you are following a well-rounded bodybuilding program. In fact, you should do everything in your power to build the traps as big as possible. Here is a look at the exercises you should use to bulk your trapezius muscles up to unbelievable proportions.
In addition to working the deltoids and biceps, upright rows are also very effective in building the traps. Using a closer grip on the bar will work your traps even more so you should go as close as you comfortably can. One thing to keep in mind is that upright rows can be uncomfortable no matter how close the grip is so keep the grip wide if this is the case.
However, your workout program must include upright rows in some form since they are crucial for bigger traps. When performing upright rows, make sure to go heavy and do anywhere between 8-10 reps. Upright rows are a compound exercise so you're going to gain more muscle by lifting heavier. Another thing to keep in mind with upright rows is that you should raise your elbows higher to keep pressure off of the wrists.
This wouldn't be a proper traps article without including the classic shrugs. When performing shrugs, you can use a barbell or dumbbells. Either will get the job done, but dumbbells have an advantage over a barbell because they allow more movement with the exercise. Doing seated shrugs with dumbbells are even better since you won't be able to use other muscles as easily to help you.
One thing to avoid when doing shrugs is rolling your shoulders. When you roll your shoulders, you risk damaging the rotator cuffs, which is obviously not a desired outcome. When performing shrugs, lift your shoulders up and hold this position for 2 seconds, then descend. A good goal to shoot for in the beginning is 2 sets of 8-10 reps; later, you can go for 3 or 4 sets of 10 reps.
The majority of bodybuilders use seated rows to work their back. However, you can also effectively use seated rows as a good traps exercise with a little modification. Instead of keeping your elbows in like most people do, move your elbows out. This ensures that you’ll be putting a lot of emphasis on your upper back area – especially the traps.
Besides the difference in how you hold your elbows, you should still use the same motion when performing seated rows. If you’re able to perform two or three sets of 10 reps, you should definitely be getting a good traps workout.
Power cleans are one of the best compound exercises you can perform since they work lots of muscles in both the upper and lower body. Traps happen to be included in the many muscles that power cleans work.
If you're not used to doing power cleans, begin while standing over the barbell on the ground. Pick the barbell up with a wider than shoulder-width grip, and lift the barbell from the ground to your shoulders. Then lower the bar and start the process over again. A good goal for power cleans is 3 sets of 5-7 reps.
By Jeremy Olson