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CT's Recommendations for Traps?


CT, or others that already know-

I'm looking for CT's recommendations for training the traps (as the title says, duh). I train 5/3/1 three days per week. Other than deadlifts of course, which are done every 10 days on that set-up, I'm looking to blow my traps up. With all the new training info CT is releasing, I'm not sure what the protocol for building ridiculous traps is. As far as I'm concerned, I can train traps all three days I'm in the gym if need be.



Power Clean, power shrugs, DB shrugs all fantastic for traps.

I have noticed a big difference in my traps using power clean and now the staggered trap work during performance pressing WO's.


Thanks. And just to be clear, I'm looking for what Thibs considers the best now, with these new ideas he is publishing about HP muscle, performance muscles and foundation muscles, etc.

As for the above- I pretty much suck at power cleans, although I could work with them. Snatches on the other hand stress my shoulder just watching video of them, and I really just don't feel comfortable trying to teach them to myself at this time. Shrugs, of course I can do them.

I'm curious where they fall as performance or foundation? I would think foundation as they aren't "pushing" anything as he says, but more holding things in place, so I think they would be treated like lats and biceps, but not 100% sure.



They should ideally be trained as staggered sets in between upper body pressing.

An exercise CT seems to recommend lately is the military press shrug, which is a shrug variation that is executed from the starting position for military press. You then shrug your traps without extending the arms until the bar is around the level of your eyes.


the single arm DB shrug is great you get the extra rom plus good core and oblique work, the single arm will let you actually go higher on your shrug as compared to the other shrug variations.....here is another shurg piece that you can do to really blow your traps up
also agree with liffy as well

10 sec. shrug
10 sec. hold at top
10 sec. shrug
10 sec. hold at top
etc. reepat until you cant go anymore you will burn your traps up and they will soon be touching your ears


Add cable lateral raises into your daily training sessions, either as staggered/assistance work or as a finisher at the end. Cable lateral raises elicit considerable upper trap development (justified in Bret Contreras's 'Inside the Muscles' series below).


Other than that, power snatches should do the trick. Plus this is most likely consistent with what Thibs would suggest.


reading through Thibs' "training questions #4" thread, and im finding what i was looking for basically... lots of good stuff in there.

thanks all




thanks for reading.


Snatch grip deadlifts. Snatch grip high pulls. Explosive Snatch grip deadlifts with a powerful shrug at the top. Oly lifts.


He has an old Monday with Thibs article called traps of steel.

This one:

His recommendations might have changed a lot since writing this though. I'm sure one of the training lab videos was mostly a trap workout.



LR- thanks for that. I've read it before, but certainly forgot about it. Just re-read it and I will definitely try to integrate some ideas.


CT's Trap Blast for Mass:



damn, forgot about that too. thanks


After 16 sets of deadlifts with high force/high acceleration your upper traps, at least, should have more than enough stimulation.

From Bret Contreras as to the best upper, mid, and lower trap exercises to more specifically give examples here you go

Upper Trap

Mean: BB Shrug, Cable Lateral Raise, Standing Military Press
Peak: Cable Lateral Raise, BB Shrug, Seated Behind Neck Press

Mid Trap

Mean DB Bent-Over Row, DB Elbows Out Chest-Supported Row, Prone Trap Raise
Peak Prone Trap Raise, DB Bent-Over Row, DB Elbows Out Chest-Supported Row

Lower Trap

Mean DB Bent-Over Row, Prone Trap Raise, DB Elbows Out Chest-Supported Row
Peak DB Elbows Out Chest Supported-Row, Prone Trap Raise, DB Bent-Over Row

Although for the latter two - he was testing only back and biceps - along with just the mid and lower portion of the traps - not the upper traps(which he tested with shoulder exercises)- or portion that is most prominent and if developed enough would hinder your ability to hear. So I'm not sure how a standard shrug would fair in regards to mid and lower trap stimulation.

Also, he didn't specifically test the deadlifts - though he did test the rack pull - for either his back/bicep or shoulder/delt best exercise experiments. I just know from lifting for 18 years now, that being faithful to deadlifts resulted in the quickest growth especially compared to standard shrug variations.

I also do the majority of my assistance work with one arm - be it a row or the trap raise. As it absolutely allows for better range of motion.


as i wrote in my original post, i deadlift about once every 10 days. in fact, i mapped out my training for the next few cycles and most of the time it is every 9 days. so yes, i deadlift. current max is 550 @ 190, conventional, just dont really feel like i have the traps to show for that. maybe by 600 i will get some mini mountains popping up.


and thanks for the Bret Contreas (sp?) stuff


I bet BBB snatch grip DL's would add a ton of upper back and trap meat on to your frame with enough food.


i don't know what CT's recommendations for traps are specifically, but since everyone else is giving their input, I figure I'll throw mine at you as well.

i like "power highpulls" and heavy strapped shrugs/ farmers walk

doing explosive high pulls should give you a similar stimulus as power cleans with less chance of injury. i'm not the most technical olympic lifter, but i know my wrists get beat up pretty fast catching a barbell during cleans.

use straps on shrugs, and really emphasis holding the top position and stretching at the bottom position. the farmers walk will help you achieve a good stretch at the bottom since you will be holding heavy weight for an extended time.

throw in some weighted neck extension/ flexion, possibly during off days but be careful not to overdo that in the beginning.

if you're looking for an alternative to barbell snatches, try dumbbell snatches. in my experience they are much easier to learn and are much more forgiving on the shoulders during the learning process. they're a great "activation exercise" and as long as you don't let yourself get fatigued, could serve you well prior to your 5/3/1 strength set for any of the lifts, especially overhead press.

be prepared to work really hard on getting your traps well developed. traps really seem to be stubborn to grow in most people, at least in natural trainees.