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Traps Question

Ive been doin traps for two years staight and for that time period i havent seen much progress,ive been doin all sorts of exercises for traps too.So will someone with huge scary upper traps offer some suggestions please.Thank you.

Not sure I have scary traps, but mine are dominant.

Are you treating them just like every other muscle where you continually try to get stronger and be able to handle the weight for more reps? You should.

Some people have muscles that grow more easily than others. Some have muscles that are hard responders.

Almost all of the people I know who have big traps (I include myself here) have a lot of experience pulling heavy weights. Either by focusing on the strength lifts (including the deadlift) or the Olympic lifts.

If you don’t deadlift at least 2.5x your body weight with GOOD FORM you shouldn’t look for a magical exercise to build your traps.

Pull (deadlift variations, high pulls, Olympic lifts if you can do them) heavy and carry heavy things: heavy farmer’s walk for example.

From the look of it you seem to simply not have a lot of muscle overall. I wouldn’t say that your traps are undersized relative to the rest of your body.

When you do isolation work for the traps think time under tension. The range of motion for a shrug is super short… maybe 3"… compare that to 2 feet or more that you have to move weight in most other exercises. So for each repetition your muscles do a lot less work than for something like a squat, a bench press or even a barbell curl.

And if you do your shrugs rapidly, the first half of the movement is done via momentum and stretch reflex… so the muscle doesn’t do that much work.

If you want isolation work for the traps to work you must do the reps slowly to avoid using momentum, and hold the contraction 2 seconds per rep (at the top) to extend the time for which the muscle is under load.

But mostly lift heavy, get bigger overall and do heavy farmer’s walk.

^ He stole my answer. The best trap builders seem to be lifts where they’re basically performing a static hold in the stretched position.

Not saying this is your situation but I hit my traps with shrugs, flies and the occasional deads my first year or so of training but didn’t see real development until I focused on deads, cleans and standing overhead presses. I feel trap development will always lack if you don’t have a good base on these exercises

I echo everything everyone has said. My traps are probably my most developed muscles and the only exercise that’s consistently been in my program is deadlifts.

Definitely heavy pulling movements. My traps are fairly developed and I attribute it to all the heavy pulling work like has been mentioned here.

And the androgen receptors in that area certainly don’t hurt.

Cheating/heavy side laterals -will give you delts and more balanced look as well as traps

My favorite that most people don’t seem to do in my gym is heavy ass hang clean. No matter how much I use my legs for this, my traps always respond well. Snatch high pulls too!

[quote]kb4391 wrote:
My favorite that most people don’t seem to do in my gym is heavy ass hang clean. No matter how much I use my legs for this, my traps always respond well. Snatch high pulls too![/quote]

What I’ve noticed is that with lifts from the hang, it’s actually the lowering of the barbell (from the shoulders back to the hang position) that seems to hit the traps as they are used to stop the weight from falling. All my crossfit athletes get super sore in the traps the day after heavy hang work

x10 on lifts from the hang! My favorite thing to do as of late is reps of 2-3 in the high pull and power clean, doing the first from the floor and the subsequent reps from the hang. Wrecks the back. Also, I think training for performance on these lifts as opposed to just trap hypertrophy goes a long way. And neck work. Direct neck work makes you look like a bad ass.

More than honorable mention: Overhead work, overhead walks, farmers walks, front squats, high rep “Kirk Shrugs” with dumb bells at the end of sessions.

Thanks guys that was some helpful info

Thanks for the helpful info guys

[quote]Nards wrote:
And the androgen receptors in that area certainly don’t hurt.[/quote]

We are all full natty brah.

I have done most every exercise over the years but I never really had traps until I tried BBB. It wasn’t necessarily the routine itself but the 5 sets of 10 reps at 50% on the second lower day. I was already doing trapbar deads for 5x5, but the extra volume on a second day made the difference.



  1. Make sure diet, sleep, life style choices are optimal.

  2. Dead lift and variations with challenging but not crippling weight using good form.

  3. Know the function of a muscle you’re training or risk stumbling in the dark.

  4. Flex the muscles in question to increase mmc.

My upper traps were never a strong point. They’re still not where I want them but that’s the challenge, isn’t it…? And as a natty recently starting a 55-60 hour job really didn’t help matters.

This year, I took to heart my former Coach’s advice re: deadlifts and started doing them consistently. The intention was NOT to build upper traps but fill in gaps in strength and overall health.

The side benefit is the upper traps did start growing.

So you have three posts so far in which the writers have photographic evidence - VERY VERY important when listening to advice on bodybuilding - that they know a thing or two on the subject. And all three agree on pulling heavy things from the floor.

But here’s the disclaimer: heavy weight does NOT mean crippling weight; it means weight that is challenging TO YOU.

I’ve seen guys trying to hit max singles every time they deadlift. This is a high-risk approach with potentially severe consequences. The weight room and meat head forums are littered with guys who bit off more than they can chew and suffered permanent injuries. This is the single most important take-away I got from my Coach.

I stated this in the Conditioning subforum a while back http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_conditioning/push_ups_pull_ups_squats_work_all_muscle_groups and it’s worth repeating: 1) learn proper form; 2) do different variations on the deadlift; 3)use moderate reps and always walk away with something left in the tank.

This might be hard to hear but if, after two years, you haven’t accomplished much, then I doubt your diet was optimal. I also doubt you were performing all those shrug variations in an optimal manner.

The upper traps don’t just elevate - they also retract. Now let this knowledge bomb sink in. I’ve lost count the number of idiots just load up the smith, strap up, and mindlessly shrug up and down. Unless they’re gifted or using, I’m convinced this method is garbage and they’ll be lucky if they don’t injure a nerve at their cervical spine.

Another thing no one mentioned is the importance of flexing the targeted muscles. This is an old-school bodybuilding technique that really helps you to be in tune with the muscles in question. Get in front of the mirror and practice the most-muscular pose until you can flex those muscles at will.

There are also some more advanced techniques but human nature being what it is, I fear neophytes will jump straight to that and ignore the fundamentals.

Everyone here’s covered the training side of things, but my question is
Do you eat enough?

[quote]vikingfit wrote:
Everyone here’s covered the training side of things, but my question is
Do you eat enough? [/quote]

This is a perfectly valid question but the OP and anyone else in his predicament must also factor in quality sleep, hydration, pH, meal quality and timing. All these things, which may seem trivial, sets a proper foundation.

Another thing I forgot to mention - and this is purely theoretical on my part - is using double overhand grip instead of mixed grips. Perhaps because the arm isn’t in the stronger, but more risky, palms out position the traps are forced to engage just that much more. This falls in line with people who get good trap development from cleans.

Again, just purely theoretical but I do wonder why deads, rdl, etc give some great upper traps and does little for others. Moderate weight with controlled eccentrics also play a key role.