T Nation

How Many Sets for Traps?


currently i am doing 6 sets of db shrugs and 3 sets of hang power cleans, on my delt/trap day, is this enough or do i need more?
Also would it be better to do 6 sets of hang power cleans and 3 sets of shrugs instead?.
My traps are not on par in development with my other bodyparts.


If you're not happy do more volume and more frequently, even consider starting workouts with trap work.


Ask SrJoker. He's considered the expert on trap development.

Seriously... I agree with what Plateau said. Prioritize the traps and push them as far as you're able to recover from. You could most likely train them more frequently than you think.


I honestly think the weight used for traps is way more important than how many sets are actually done.

I have done just 3 sets for traps for about a decade...but I also use more weight than most people.


do you think cleans are good for traps?. Which of these combinations do you guys think is better,

Option A,
Shrugs for 6 sets
3 sets of cleans from the hang

Option B,
Option A,
Shrugs for 3 sets
6 sets of cleans from the hang


Heavy = progress

More shrugs & less cleans...IMO


^^Waaaaaaaaay over thinking it.

For me personally, I get much more sore in my traps from cleans than I do from shrugs. I never feel like I'm working my traps much during shrugs but with cleans I feel it a lot.

Try out your plan and figure out which one WORKS BEST FOR YOU.

Good luck


The Devils Triangle Trap Building Complex a couple times a week will get you where you need to be.

When I use it, I do it as a warm up for my upper body days.

Its three moves done for six reps without releasing the bar.

First, is the clean grip high pull

Second is the snatch grip high pull

Third is a bent over barbell row

For the pulls come form the hang position not off the floor.

For the grip transition,let the bar kind of free fall and catch it in the new grip position

Run through that twice before you hit delts,back,or chest. Its also got a nice metabolic and conditioning benefit too.

Are you deadlifting in your training week? If so, do your lighter sets with a wide grip and go heavy with your heavy stuff.

If neither of those are appealing,to directly answer your question. I would personally bang out more cleans. I would go for 6 sets of 3 or 4 on hang cleans.


Heavy overhead press works traps, along with heavy laterals and deadlifts so if your doing those lifts then you will probably be fine just doing three to four sets of shrugs. No need for cleans IMO if you are doing the above lifts, you need some direct trap work. If you are determined to do either your option A or B, then do the one with 6 sets of shrugs first and 3 sets of cleans after.


My delt/traps day looks like this right now:
6 sets of bradford presses
6 sets of lateral raises
6 sets of shrugs
3 sets of rear delt swings done meadows style
3 sets of muscle clean from the hang

and i am thinking of changing it to this:
6 sets of bradford presses
6 sets of lateral raises
3 sets of shrugs
3 sets of rear delt swings done meadows style
6 sets of muscle clean from the hang
More sets of cleans instead of shrugs, although i want more as much trap development as possible atm but with cleans i can also hit shoulders more,as it's always good to have as big shoulders as possible. I do this routine twice a week. Should i keep what i am doing or do the 2nd option(more cleans,less shrugs)


Hm there's nothing magical about traps. I think they only need heavy iron, deads-shrugs and cleans (the latter is optional) And again: HEAVY. Unfortunately too much people use sissy weights for shrugs and expect them to grow. They won't.

Hm I know it's probably BS, but I think that shrughs should be done with a slight forward lean, or even lying face on a high incline. Just to hit the lower fibres more as well. I feel that with totally vertical torso I don't get as much stimulation.

Anyway, do what you feel best for you. I just never had any problems with them, even without direct training, but it's highly individual.


2 heavy ass sets to failure on shrugs does it for me. I don't even get to do them every week because of neck issues though and they're still growing. Lately I've only been able to train them like once every 2-3 weeks.


6 sets of shrugs? Wtf?

You must either have the worst trap genetics ever, or... IDK. I once heard the traps were the easiest-to-grow body part for the general person. It's a big statement but you don't really see developed people with lagging traps.


I think 3 sets is enough


Thx for the reply. I neglected traps by not working them at all for a long time since i also read that they were the easiest to grow so i thought i would get great traps from just overhead pressing and i didn't really want to build big traps either since ppl thought it was ugly but now i have changed my mind and want to get them as big as possible.

I think i will switch to 3 sets of traps and 6 sets of cleans since cleans works shoulders and other parts aswell. My only question is ,is cleans good for traps? of course i know it's not as good as shrugs but will it get the job done?


I couldn't disagree more. It has very little to do with the amount of weight you use. A perfect example, is this guy at another gym i once trained at, piled on the weight 6 45's on each side, he'd bang out 4 or 5 reps and done. yet, his traps were nothing. me, I do maybe 4 plates per side on the smith machine, i bring them up high, hold them for a split second, then down. do that for a good 10-12 reps. and my traps are huge. form is everything with traps. The amount of weight used is only good for the ego. If you can do alot of weight with good from, then great. but heavy is different for everyone.


actually, the traps are the hardest. look around the gym sometime. how many guys do you see with huge traps. sure, alot of guys have big arms or big chest or decent shoulders but they almost always have no traps at all. if traps were so easy to build, every dude in the gym would have huge traps. they simply don't and theres a reason for it. they aren't all that easy to build. do you know how many guys have told me "I do so many sets of shrugs, but nothing makes my traps grow."


Again, next time your in the gym, look around, how many guys do you see with huge ass traps. I've trained in tons of gyms all over MA, and I rarely if ever see guys with big traps. so obviously, they aren't the easiest to build. I beleive they are among the hardest to build.


If you really, really want big to develope huge traps, then the only real way is to have Rogue Vampire bite you in your neck!



I'm not talking about average gym-goers, I'm talking about bodybuilders. It is more uncommon than not to see a well developed person (as aforementioned in my prior post) have under-developed traps.

And I getcha OP, although I never understood the "avoid direct exercise for x muscle because it will be indirectly hit these other movements." Direct worst = Best work.