T Nation

Hang Cleans instead of Shrugs for Trap Development?


when i first started training my traps (shrugs) they use to get extremely sore the next day, so much so that i could barely turn my head. these days, no matter what rep range or weight i lift, DB's or barbell, or if i use strict form or cheat, they dont get sore at all. and its not like ive gotten use to the exercise and thats why i havent been getting sore, because ive only got back into them the last few weeks, but still, nothing. i really cant understand what the problem is. and im using the same form that i started with. (shrug your shoulders to try and touch your ears, and hold for a second or two).

just wondering what you guys think about using hang cleans instead of shrugs to build big traps? ive never done them before but heard they work well. just looking for a second opinion.

and will they work your traps just as hard and shape them the same way that shrugs do?

Thanks in advance.




I used to get the sorest traps from hang cleans in college. Now, I basically do upright rows with the same explosion, but no leg drive or catch. Do whatever works.


Ever try heavy power shrugs?? I do those once every week or two and are consistently destroyed by them


why not use both?

are you FEELING your traps work during shrugs?

if so then dont worry about soreness... worry about progression

if not then maybe you just need to re-establish your MMC with the movement


Sore = growth?


Hey guys


im not feeling my traps work much, thats the problem, not the soreness.

EDIT: ive been looking at a few other posts regarding trap development and found these exercises.

Power pull, snatch grip
Power pull, clean grip
hang snatches
hang cleans
Deadlift, rack pulls

anyone here use these instead of DB or Barbell shrugs?


My thoughts exactly.

Even if you don't feel them, what other muscle do you think is lifting the weight? How much are you shrugging?


That may be true, but if you've been doing them or months with no results something isnt right.


Dude, Earthworm Jim!

In all seriousness, you've come a long way man.


Dammit, Austin! You're looking better with each new avatar!
Nice work!


Thanks dudes.


Use a combination of both.

Just about every olympic lift is a "trap builder." Just the explosive nature of the the lifts, creates a maximum recruitment of the trap fibers (as well as just about every other muscle group, but especially the traps).

If you're not comfortable with the "catch" part of the lifts, just do the high pull version....still a high amount of trap involvement.

Perform cleans, snatches, etc in the lower rep ranges...5 or less (This will give you maximal fiber (and CNS activation) of the traps.

You can then do traditional BB/DB shrugs utilizing higher rep ranges to fully exhaust all the fibers of the posterior shoulder girdle.

Personally, I do snatch grip, regular grip and push press shrugs. Shrugs are like calves...they have a small range of motion and can withstand a beating.

Also, if bigger traps are what you're after, increase your standing overhead press numbers. The traps play a significant role in starting an overhead press and locking it out at the top.

Plus, increasing your trap size will lead to better flat press performance, as the upper back is the foundation in which you press off of, when benching......think tight upper back cue when setting up for a flat press.

AND huge traps look bad ass!


thanks for the reply. the only helpful answer i received out of all the replys. you find that when people posts build up they tend to get less helpful and talk more crap.

very helpful post. i think im gonna give snatches and cleans a go from the hang position, and not do the 'clean' part of the movement which you mentioned. im hoping these exercises will blast my traps because ive never had my traps grow that much at all.

i read some other posts that people made concerning trap development and they also said they found it difficult to 'feel' the traps working while doing shrugs. perhaps id be better suited to the explosive nature of the Oly style lifts.

again, thanks for the reply.


you should really just "talk" like this more often


Yeah, sorry about that! Here I was thinking that the huge thread about getting big traps by doing shrugs would have been an obvious go-to, but nope. You see what you want to see!


Hit traps from multiple angles, include clean variations as part of a trap routine.


bro, you're not the only one with this problem.

i have shitty traps even though they're strong as hell.

i tried every variation of dumbbell shrugs and barbell shrugs u can think about, still no

soreness or growth, no matter how heavy or light i go, or whether i squeeze at the top or not.

in fact the only exercise that gives me DOMS on my traps are Hang Cleans, even if i only

do 3 sets of 3 reps with medium heavy weight.

i recently started doing heavy ass Rack Pulls, and they seem to be growing pretty fast.

plus the DOMS i get from it is insane. try Rack Pulls bro.


FST7 Cleans?