T Nation

Destroying My Traps


Sorry sorry, this is my second question in like 5 minutes already. There's just so much to learn here!

Can anyone give me advise on some trap exercises to absolutely destroy them. So far shrugs are my fav trap exercise and I'm seeing good gains but I'd like to include mini-routines for every muscle to focus on now and then and I can't come up with much for my traps.

I'd love to experience my traps burning just from the weight of my shirt (CT quote?)


I truly believe all you need is heavy shrugs. I get comments on mine a lot and that is all I do along with the rest of my shoulder training. They are designed to handle a lot of weight so train them that way.


Shrugs and their variations are great trap builders, have you tried the Kelso variation (bent over row style) or the evil overhead shrug? In any case doing them properly makes all the difference. With such a short range of motion be sure you are holding at the top and 'squeezing', then lower slowly through the full range of motion. Deadlifts and upright rows are also good for hitting the traps although I find upright rows hard on my shoulders and wrists.


Same here.From my experience they get a decent indirect workout if your deadlifting heavy.


Power cleans, snatches, deadlifts, heavy shrugs, and last but CERTAINLY not least, overhead shrugs, yes.. Overhead shrugs will take your traps to a new level of soreness..

Don't forget to train your legs too!! (Ya always hafta remind the new guys that they can train their legs too)



With overhead shrug you mean holding the dumbbell(s) with almost straight arms and then shrugging? Hrm... I'll work on that.

Oh and don't worry about the legs, I'm well aware I need to pack inches onto my legs to pack inches onto my upper body. I'm doing squats every workout and my calves are still sore from 2 days ago (did my calves on the leg press machine).


Im partial to heavy rack pulls with a nice pause at the top. and of course deadlifts, deadlifts


I don't know if I've ever felt crap from shrugs. Apparently my traps are put together wrong, and thus they don't wanna grow.

Now, for me to get sore ... cleans.

To absolutely decimate your traps, a machete or hatchet from behind works well. Be warned though, that this method is extremely painful and puts a hyooge damper on lifting.

CS quote, btw.



Just do barbell shrugs with 2 or 3 platyes on each side. Roll the shoulders front to back in the motion.

3 sets of 7-10 should work well.


I truly believe most people who make this statement don't go heavy at all. If you are trying to lift either 3 or 4 plates a side and you still don't feel it in your traps with barbell shrugs, yes, there is a very serious problem.


I agree. My traps don't respond well to shrugs (though I haven't tried overhead shrugs mental note to try them). I've been doing cleans only once per week, and my traps have been exploding.


OK. 3 plates is heavy for shrugs? ... 4 kinda and 5 yes. If I do them with a slight forward lean, I feel some trap recruitment. I've never tried a trap bar, which I suspect would be lots of fun. Behind the back shrugs are for me totally worthless. Cleans are good for me, as are DB snatches. Then again, I have never focused on traps and shrugs. Separating both of my shoulders over the years has not helped me a damn bit.

I'm considering a day to target weaknesses - traps, delts, tris, calves, grip, ... wait ... f*ck ... that's everything.



For a little guy like me 315 is a lot to hold w/o straps.


Overhead shrugs- holding the dumbbells OVERHEAD and shrugging. Or barbell OVERHEAD and shrugging.


Be careful with ANY shoulder rotation with that kind of load. There is almost no benefit to rolling the shoulders and the potential for impigments and shoulder capsule damage far outweigh it.


I honestly don't understand this. You claim you can do 5 plates a side and you only feel "some" recruitment? What is moving the weight? If the only thing working is your traps, you have no choice but to "recruit it".

I have seen MANY people do this exercise wrong from moving their shoulders in a circle to using their biceps to move the weight up and down. If your arms are locked out (or at least not bending), and the only muscle moving the weight up and down is the one on the back of your neck...SURPRISE!!!...you just recruited your traps.


There was an article on here called "The Power Look" and it outlined a good rountine that will hit your traps hard. I can't figure out the linking stuff, so just search "power look". I've seen some improvement with shrugs, but being somewhat pf a beginner (1 1/2 years) I guess I get good gains easily.
I started doing power cleans a few months ago and the day after a workout my traps have been very sore. I think that power cleans, clean/jerk, snatches, and the variations are great for trap developement. Just look at all the Olympic lifters.


This is incorrect, do not roll the shoulders.

Heavy bent rows really work my traps. Deadlifts, as mentioned.


You could try a split grip like on deadlifts. That's what I do for my heaviest shrugs.

PS just trained back and traps. I feel fucking great! Like a demigod! AAARRGGGGHHHH!! KING CONAN!


Full snatches and clean and jerks, heavy singles. The rapid reversal from the pull to the squat under hits my traps way harder than the power variations. Don't feel anything at the time, but I never fail to hurt the day after a max snatch and C+J.