First, a bit of background, I have been seriously bodybuilding between 2003-2007 with the regular routines (i.e. Compound lifts with few isolation exercises). I've done lots of dead-lifts, squats, etc.. i, and went from 135 pounds to 185 peak with mostly muscle, and then later through several years I dropped down to 150ish-165 due to slowed metabolism and very minimal lifting since I got very busy with school, work, and family.
However, although I gained considerable amount of muscle such as in my Lats, chest, deltoids as well as the Trapezius, the latter was lagging. No matter how many shrugs (multiple variations from power shrugs to dumbbell shrugs) I do my traps would not grow to what I want them to be (i.e. mountains), and I would hardly get sore (of course soreness does not equal gains or intensity of workout but there is a correlation). I might have been doing shrugs Nonetheless I would say that my back was very strong (Deadlifts, heavy weighted pullups and rows).
This January I was inspired by an article written by Christian Thibaudeau about the importance of Olympic lifting and specifically Snatch Grip High Pulls (SGHP). I also had muscle pain in my back to do no exercising and sitting in front of the computer for work for too long. This all made me purchase an olympic weight set and concentrate on back muscles (i.e. Traps, rhomboids, and lats) as to alleviate my back pain as well as to grow my Traps which at the time I thought contributed to neck and back strains.
Long story short, I kept going with SGHP starting with 105 pounds in January, and going up pretty fast to 210 pounds of SGHP just this week. As for the rep range, I continue to lift up until I can hit at least 8 reps (with good form) and then I move up the weight by 5 pounds. Obviously I started with lower weight for safety concerns and not being familiar with olympic lifts. Additionally some of the strength gain are due to nervous system adaptation and learning how to explode with the hips and transfer the weight to my Traps/back. However, some of the strength was acquired by what I believe an increase in Trapezius size as seen in the attached images. I apologize as I do not have a Ã¢??trueÃ¢?? before image, I only started taking images 2 weeks post-SGHP. During the time IÃ¢??ve also been doing considerable amount of barbell rows and occasional dead-lifts and pull-ups. My main exercise though was the SGHP which I've never done before prior to the start of this routine. Importantly, I only lift twice a week max (many times just once a week with only SGHP but with high intensity).
I have never seen or felt an exercise that can hit the Traps so hard and make them sore every single time, even when done twice a week. Believe me I have done my share of lifting, especially for back exercises. It is also worth mentioning that these gains are not necessary beginnersÃ¢?? gains since I consider my self a well experienced lifter. Nonetheless, I think that my traps did not experience that type of Ã¢??heavyÃ¢?? trauma in the past, and therefore they grew and continue to get stronger with these olympic lifts. These gains were also very noticeable by family, friends when they specifically point to the Traps (which also means in a way I am not overseeing things).
I am also not implying that shrugs or other Trap exercises are useless, but rather in my case I respond much better to these types of Olympic lifts and I feel that many other guys who are having a hard time with shrugs may find a benefit in SGHP. My point here is to share with my lifting peers that SGHP do work, as long as you do them right, stay safe, and go heavy! If anyone has any success with SGHP I would be interested to learn about that.