T Nation

Officially a Fan of SGHP for TRAP Work


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 â??trueâ?? before image, I only started taking images 2 weeks post-SGHP. During the time Iâ??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 beginnersâ?? gains since I consider my self a well experienced lifter. Nonetheless, I think that my traps did not experience that type of â??heavyâ?? 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.
SGHP fan


Yeah second that. SGHP (In layer system) literally transformed my physique. It’s pretty magical.

I’m convinced that all you really need is SGHP, incline tilt bench, and trap bar deadlift (deficit) for an amazing physique (natural). Then fill in the rest with ring work (weighted), sled/carries, and select isolation moves (lateral raises). Most athletic feeling ever.


If you really want your traps to explode, try CTs high pull specialization program. It is 3 weeks of SGHP every day and you can almost watch your traps grow.


Don’t forget the lawnmower rows in CT’s program.


Yes SGHP are nice and are the reason behind my traps. However work shrugs also perfect for me.


Here is another update as of 9-3-15. Hoping to add farmers walks soon!


Do the zombie apocalypse workout. Muscle clean and muscle snatch are even better trap and upper back developers than snatch high pull.


Here is another update. Thanks for all the feedback, I’ve been incorporating Hang cleans and a bit of carries.

I did notice that I get stuck at a certain weight range on SGHP and can’t increase the weight, so I switched to hang cleans for reps and then when I get fatigued and can’t rack the bar I finish the last two sets (out of 5) of hang cleans with close grip high pulls and it has been working out good. I’ll probably go back to SGHP soon. I’am also including Croc Rows (lawn mower rows) that feel really nice on my back.

Any other suggestions are very welcome


Try this version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuRO3J7c_z8


This CT program leads to big trap gains https://www.t-nation.com/workouts/zombie-apocalypse-workout


so it happened today…SGHP snapped up my t-spine. Quite surprised as movement never felt dangerous to me before (Despite looking dangerous to observers) and no prob for last 2 years.

then today started off floor and when exploding from hang position heard a snap and kinda fucked now (pain swivelling neck and any pressure applied to back of head).
had been travelling and not much sleep, so just throwing a little warning out there…this has been my fav move and it paid me back big time today :frowning:


I would suggest that isn’t the exercise but the application of the exercise!!! Every exercise has a potential injury risk if not done properly or with bad form.


I know the OP stated and showed his results with SGHP for trap growth, but I was wondering if others have had the same success. It seems that there isn’t an eccentric portion of the lift with any pull or Olympic exercise. For the sake of hypertrophy it seems that time under tension and/or reaching failure is the key. Has anyone had success with pulls only or are you supplementing with other trap exercises that have an eccentric phase?


My hypertrophy is definitely from high pulls. But you can delay the high pull to get some kind of eccentric . It helps take the jolt out too.


nickj, thanks for the posts on Dmitry’s variation of highpull.

Sigil, Sorry to hear about your spine. We sometimes tend to get used to doing movements and after a while naturally forget about the possible dangers and slack off form. I once hurt my spine trying to do powershrugs. Something happend as the weight was coming down from the shrug and man that was bad. I was good after a couple of days though.

Jmaier31, when I do the pulls I perform them from hang and go for at least 5 good reps with good form. The sets are at least 5 so I make sure to put as much time under tension as possible. Now days I do hang cleans, and after inability to rack the bar I keep going with the set by doing normal grip high pulls and that really puts my traps to work by increasing time under tension. Overall, with SGHP, I noticed the more reps (5 or more) the better my traps are hit.

Also, it could be the fact that some people are more “primed” to react to different exercises/mechanics based on their body structure. The motion of simply shrugging wasn’t working out for me for years when my delts, chest and lats were flaring. Suddenly when I include Olympic lifts the traps wake up and do a lot of catching up. I think everyone ought to experiment with SGHP or hang cleans if they are finding that shrugs are not working out. In my case, however, classical shrugs were not the best trap stimulator.



I haven’t done shrugs consistently in… probably ever. That’s mostly b/c it gets bumped at the end of my workouts (like calves). I do enjoy power movements and use those for trap work. I’ve added SGHP to my full body 5/3/1 program using those reps and so far, so good. I was shocked at how sore I was from a set of 7 on the 5’s day.

I’m only on week 4 of 7 before a deload but I’m doing power cleans Mondays, SGHP Wednesdays, and deadlifts on Fridays. I’ll find out soon enough if that’s too much pulling.

If I feel like I’m not getting enough time under tension then I’ll add some isometric holds in the fully extended shrugged position. I see those in CJ Cummings training videos.


Alright everyone,
Last update from me, this is just after 4 sets of hang cleans (165 pounds average 4 reps), 2 sets SGHP (165 average 9 reps), and Dumbbell carries (4 sets 90 pounds each hand for around average 25 seconds). Hope I encouraged you guys through this, wish I would’ve added this type of training long a go.

Thanks to all for the advice!



I added these to my training and have been using the 5/3/1 method. Call me crazy but I just love that rep scheme for certain things. After yesterday’s set I found myself wondering if I’m doing these correctly.

I’ve seen your training videos. They use light weight and it appears the high pull is done while the body is in triple extension. However, you seem to drop your hips a bit before or as you’re reaching the top of the pull in your video of you doing 180kgs. Your hips appear to drop as if getting ready for the catch.

I’m not questioning your technique; I’m just curious what I should be doing in my workouts. Thanks!

Training video:

CT’s 180kg pull:


The 180 was the only one where I had that drop (did several sets of 120-170 prior). I personally counted only the 170 as a max lift as it was higher and with no hip drop…


The guy you are training is pulling to his neck. Do you recommend this instead? How high do think you need to pull before you can snatch it or power snatch it?