T Nation

Tips for Upper Back Thickness?

So, over the last year I’ve really improved on overall size and thickness of my back. What seems to be lacking though is the depth to my traps and scaps. What are some of your guys’ favorite exercises for targeting those?

For traps I like db/bb shrugs with a 3secs hold on top of each rep

I also like to do some hs rows with the top handles (same grip as a reg bb row) but work on keeping the elbows UP. you wont need much weight. This will hit rhomboids wich will contribute to your upper back look
(I use 55lbs/side on that exercise if done 3rd-4th). KEEP THOSE ELBOWS RAISED. You will look like an idiot doing.it, be rdy

[quote]zraw wrote:
For traps I like db/bb shrugs with a 3secs hold on top of each rep

I also like to do some hs rows with the top handles (same grip as a reg bb row) but work on keeping the elbows UP. you wont need much weight. This will hit rhomboids wich will contribute to your upper back look
(I use 55lbs/side on that exercise if done 3rd-4th). KEEP THOSE ELBOWS RAISED. You will look like an idiot doing.it, be rdy[/quote]

Lol, I don’t mind looking like an idiot if it yields good results!

So on your shrugs, are you just going straight up and down? Because I do exactly what you’re talking about, holding the shrug at the top. But it only seems to work on trap height for me, which I have plenty of lol. Im just trying to get more of that 3d look to them.thanks for the input man.

I hear you on the trap height problem…
Whenever I do shrugs I try to tilt my head forward and my shoulder blades pinched back, and then initiate the shrugging motion. I feel it’s better than just shrugging up and down, atleast if you want the 3d look and not just trap height.
Maybe see how your upper back reacts to incline bench shrugs, I haven’t done them enough to see a benefit yet.

[quote]Shimmy wrote:
I hear you on the trap height problem…
Whenever I do shrugs I try to tilt my head forward and my shoulder blades pinched back, and then initiate the shrugging motion. I feel it’s better than just shrugging up and down, atleast if you want the 3d look and not just trap height.
Maybe see how your upper back reacts to incline bench shrugs, I haven’t done them enough to see a benefit yet.
[/quote]

Thanks for the feedback man.

I was thinking about trying some higher rep lighter weight incline bench shrugs for this problem.

From a previous thread regarding upper and mid-trap activation:

[quote]myosaurus wrote:
sure. its basically letting the target muscle take on the gravity. since the gravity pulls the weight straight down, leaning slightly forward allows bothe upper trap(elevation) and midtrap9retraction) to engage. think of pulling up and back… remember dudes rolling shoulders up and back doing shrugs? this is similar without danger of tearing your rotator cuff. also externally rotate your shouldrs as you shrug up/back. your chest should appear opened up and not caved in like when just shrugging up. when the chest cave in, you’re leaning back too much and the weight is too heavy for you. traps are postural muscle and thought to consist mostly of slow twitch muscle. I used to do 6 rep sets but lately been doing 20+ reps and I feel the difference, not so much in development, but I only feel them burning with 15+ reps.[/quote]

Try wide grip cable rows to your chest supersetted with band pull aparts. If you have a seated T-bar machine you can try doing shrugs there too.

[quote]myself1992 wrote:
Try wide grip cable rows to your chest supersetted with band pull aparts. If you have a seated T-bar machine you can try doing shrugs there too.[/quote]

Thanks.

prone trap raises. You won’t need much weight and it takes a couple of attempts to feel the sweet spot but they’re great for the mid/lower traps.

face pulls are good too

I got a pretty decent boost in that area after i started deadlifting and powercleaning. I prefer hang power cleans but thats just me

I anticipate scrape the rack shrugs to work really well. I’ve only been using them for a month and have seen some good progress already, The main thing is that it simply feels better.
You basically shrug the BB upwards and back into the cage as you shrug. I still use the 3-5 second hold at the top too.

Get really good posture like lower back flexed up right
Lean forward a bit and shrug
You’ll have to use less weight but I find it works
Also use behind the back shrugs are awesome too
There actually more like rows where you row it up as far as you can and squeeze like they show lee Haney doing
Like just a normal shrug

Another neat one I found are from this guy (not some random dude but this huge npc guy, biggest traps ive seen on a non ifbb pro) at my gym showed me called cage shrugs
They are just rowing with a trap bar
You hold it like you do a trap bar inside of it but row it up as high as you can
So like shrug and row
Do there for like 30 reps they sting

Another one I saw on DC is like a Reverse hammerstrength shrug machine deadlift
You have to get the grove right but just set up like you were going to use it but backwards
Use the lowest handles and deadlift for high reps
It’s awesome and doesn’t do a ton on the lower back

after my sets of “standard” bb rows (medium grip,elbows close to the body,bb to the hip) I do some sets of bb rows with wide grip,elbows far from body, bb to lower chest and lighter loads, my upper back is on fire after,much more than with t-bar (I dropped it,lately)…

safety squat bar shrugs supersetted with safety squat bar “upper back” good mornings

[quote]Mr. Walkway wrote:
safety squat bar shrugs supersetted with safety squat bar “upper back” good mornings[/quote]

what is an “upper back” good morning?

around 4:45 mark

they dont look like much… but damn they kill

[quote]Mr. Walkway wrote:

around 4:45 mark

they dont look like much… but damn they kill[/quote]

nice!

I’m gonna have to try that, I wish my gym had a safety squat bar though : /

[quote]ironmanzvw wrote:

[quote]Mr. Walkway wrote:

around 4:45 mark

they dont look like much… but damn they kill[/quote]

nice!

I’m gonna have to try that, I wish my gym had a safety squat bar though : /[/quote]

i just noticed JM saying they worked their way up to 3 plates…

i thought i was badass with 1 plate lmao im a pussy

[quote]Mr. Walkway wrote:

[quote]ironmanzvw wrote:

[quote]Mr. Walkway wrote:

around 4:45 mark

they dont look like much… but damn they kill[/quote]

nice!

I’m gonna have to try that, I wish my gym had a safety squat bar though : /[/quote]

i just noticed JM saying they worked their way up to 3 plates…

i thought i was badass with 1 plate lmao im a pussy[/quote]

Fuck lol that’d make for a thick upper back!

Heavy deads, low-rep hang cleans, face pulls, and high rep shrugs (15 to 25 rep range) seems to have worked for me.