T Nation

Upper Trap Work


#1

I’ve always neglected it, though I love doing lower trap work. I know one powerlifter who really likes power shrugs. Have you guys found that direct upper trap work has had any relevance to PL for you?


#2

only thing I do for traps is deadlifting for reps however I did clean and presses for fun a month ago, that killed my traps.


#3

I’m pretty sure I’ve found overall upper back thickness has helped my bench press. I don’t really do a ton of direct trap work. I kind of lump my upper and middle back work into ‘upper body pulling’ in my head and the vast majority of it is chest supported rows and band pull aparts. I do some Kroc rows, but in terms of rowing its around 2:1 chest supported to Kroc.


#4

[quote]MarkKO wrote:
I’m pretty sure I’ve found overall upper back thickness has helped my bench press. I don’t really do a ton of direct trap work. I kind of lump my upper and middle back work into ‘upper body pulling’ in my head and the vast majority of it is chest supported rows and band pull aparts. I do some Kroc rows, but in terms of rowing its around 2:1 chest supported to Kroc. [/quote]

Oh yeah, upper back is valuable. Chest-supp rows are a fairly regular assistance movement in my rotation. In addition to those, I’ve really been digging wide-grip cable rows and face-pulls lately. I was more curious about whether anybody has found any value in shrugs or any other upper trap work because my upper traps are weak as hell from years of neglect.


#5

[quote]Apoklyps wrote:

[quote]MarkKO wrote:
I’m pretty sure I’ve found overall upper back thickness has helped my bench press. I don’t really do a ton of direct trap work. I kind of lump my upper and middle back work into ‘upper body pulling’ in my head and the vast majority of it is chest supported rows and band pull aparts. I do some Kroc rows, but in terms of rowing its around 2:1 chest supported to Kroc. [/quote]

Oh yeah, upper back is valuable. Chest-supp rows are a fairly regular assistance movement in my rotation. In addition to those, I’ve really been digging wide-grip cable rows and face-pulls lately. I was more curious about whether anybody has found any value in shrugs or any other upper trap work because my upper traps are weak as hell from years of neglect.[/quote]

Gotcha. In that case, I’m afraid I can’t offer anything of use. What I’ve been doing has grown my traps more than anything I’ve done before BUT they weren’t anything special to start with so pretty much anything was an improvement. Also like I said I’ve never felt the need to directly work my traps.


#6

I did shrugs very regularly for several months, and I could tell no improvement to any lifts from them. Just my $.02.


#7

You mentioned before you had some kind of shoulder situation. If you’ve been laying off your traps, some shrugs or upright rows may help make everything stronger and more stable.


#8

[quote]MarkKO wrote:
I’m pretty sure I’ve found overall upper back thickness has helped my bench press. I don’t really do a ton of direct trap work. I kind of lump my upper and middle back work into ‘upper body pulling’ in my head and the vast majority of it is chest supported rows and band pull aparts. I do some Kroc rows, but in terms of rowing its around 2:1 chest supported to Kroc. [/quote]
I hear that Kroc rows send your estrogen levels through the roof. Careful with those.


#9

If you deadlift at least once a week then you are probably getting enough trap volume. If your problem on deadlifts is upper back rounding then SSB squat, upper back good mornings, and upper back raises (on a 45 degree back raise) should help. I used to do shrugs, my traps got a lot bigger once I dropped them and raised deadlift volume. If you deadlift with a rounded upper back then those exercises should help.

By the way, any upper back work like face pulls, rows, lateral raises, band pull aparts, etc., is worth doing for shoulder health alone - it might not directly bring your lifts up, but neglecting external rotation movements can cause shoulder issues in the long run.


#10

Meadows shrugs with dumbbells (basically shrugs with a 3 second pause at the top) added a lot of upper body mass but not sure if it did much for my lifts.


#11

My traps have grown significantly in last 6 months, probably because of 2 things:

  • I started doing cleans regularly.
  • I started doing high rep deadlifting.

My lifts have all gone up too (specially deadlift), but I don’t know is the trap hypertrophy reason or consequence. At least I’m finally starting to look that I lift.


#12

Textbook compound bro answer but Deadlifts, Cleans and Farmer’s walks. Like the guys have said above shrugs don’t help a lot of people. Heavy pulls and carries have done more for my yoke than anything.


#13

I never felt like I’ve gotten anything from basic shrugs as for hypertrophy, stabilizing my bench or helping with my lockouts pulling. Power shrugs are better, but there are even better bang for your buck movements for both strength, hypertrophy and carry over to the other big lifts. Snatch grip high pulls are amazing for all of the above mentioned and it doesn’t take a lot of volume in my experience. I’ve been high pulling twice a week for six sets of four reps for about 3 months now and have gotten more out of it than any other movement I’ve tried before. A lot of lifters seem to get the same benefits out of cleans and other oly lifts, but if you don’t have the mobility, high pulls are great. There really are no “secret” exercises, but I ask myself all the time why I haven’t heard of the high pull before. Progress as you normally would, so long as the weight is moving fast.


#14

[quote]badboy69cancer wrote:
I never felt like I’ve gotten anything from basic shrugs as for hypertrophy, stabilizing my bench or helping with my lockouts pulling. Power shrugs are better, but there are even better bang for your buck movements for both strength, hypertrophy and carry over to the other big lifts. Snatch grip high pulls are amazing for all of the above mentioned and it doesn’t take a lot of volume in my experience. I’ve been high pulling twice a week for six sets of four reps for about 3 months now and have gotten more out of it than any other movement I’ve tried before. A lot of lifters seem to get the same benefits out of cleans and other oly lifts, but if you don’t have the mobility, high pulls are great. There really are no “secret” exercises, but I ask myself all the time why I haven’t heard of the high pull before. Progress as you normally would, so long as the weight is moving fast. [/quote]

I wish I could say I had the same experience with snatch grip high pulls. I did them once or twice a week for around three months and they didn’t do anything much for me. Probably just me though.


#15

[quote]MarkKO wrote:

[quote]badboy69cancer wrote:
I never felt like I’ve gotten anything from basic shrugs as for hypertrophy, stabilizing my bench or helping with my lockouts pulling. Power shrugs are better, but there are even better bang for your buck movements for both strength, hypertrophy and carry over to the other big lifts. Snatch grip high pulls are amazing for all of the above mentioned and it doesn’t take a lot of volume in my experience. I’ve been high pulling twice a week for six sets of four reps for about 3 months now and have gotten more out of it than any other movement I’ve tried before. A lot of lifters seem to get the same benefits out of cleans and other oly lifts, but if you don’t have the mobility, high pulls are great. There really are no “secret” exercises, but I ask myself all the time why I haven’t heard of the high pull before. Progress as you normally would, so long as the weight is moving fast. [/quote]

I wish I could say I had the same experience with snatch grip high pulls. I did them once or twice a week for around three months and they didn’t do anything much for me. Probably just me though. [/quote]

Hey MarkKO
What were you looking for when trying out High Pulls, some performance goal or traps development? I’m asking because I’d also used high pulls exclusively with the CT’s layer system and found that cosmetically it really changed the look of my physique. My performance on high pulls also skyrocketed but the carryover to other lifts varied. Deadlift was unaffected, but I felt more stability when doing bench press or power cleans. Also I found that after my high pull experience, I started to get more out of the other trap exercises like shrugs and upright rows which had never worked out for me before.


#16

[quote]jasper41 wrote:

[quote]MarkKO wrote:

[quote]badboy69cancer wrote:
I never felt like I’ve gotten anything from basic shrugs as for hypertrophy, stabilizing my bench or helping with my lockouts pulling. Power shrugs are better, but there are even better bang for your buck movements for both strength, hypertrophy and carry over to the other big lifts. Snatch grip high pulls are amazing for all of the above mentioned and it doesn’t take a lot of volume in my experience. I’ve been high pulling twice a week for six sets of four reps for about 3 months now and have gotten more out of it than any other movement I’ve tried before. A lot of lifters seem to get the same benefits out of cleans and other oly lifts, but if you don’t have the mobility, high pulls are great. There really are no “secret” exercises, but I ask myself all the time why I haven’t heard of the high pull before. Progress as you normally would, so long as the weight is moving fast. [/quote]

I wish I could say I had the same experience with snatch grip high pulls. I did them once or twice a week for around three months and they didn’t do anything much for me. Probably just me though. [/quote]

Hey MarkKO
What were you looking for when trying out High Pulls, some performance goal or traps development? I’m asking because I’d also used high pulls exclusively with the CT’s layer system and found that cosmetically it really changed the look of my physique. My performance on high pulls also skyrocketed but the carryover to other lifts varied. Deadlift was unaffected, but I felt more stability when doing bench press or power cleans. Also I found that after my high pull experience, I started to get more out of the other trap exercises like shrugs and upright rows which had never worked out for me before.[/quote]

I was using them for performance really. The volume wasn’t huge. I’d do three sets plus warm ups as a prelude to deadlifts. On squat days I did the same for cleans.

I got better at the exercises, and I think they kind of helped, especially deadlifts. But no real trap development. I only started seeing trap development when I started doing a lot more rows, and then it really took off when I added in pull aparts.

Deadlifts, which I’ve always done a bunch of, don’t seem to do much for my traps either. Could be because I rarely go above three reps.


#17

[quote]MarkKO wrote:
I was using them for performance really. The volume wasn’t huge. I’d do three sets plus warm ups as a prelude to deadlifts. On squat days I did the same for cleans.

I got better at the exercises, and I think they kind of helped, especially deadlifts. But no real trap development. I only started seeing trap development when I started doing a lot more rows, and then it really took off when I added in pull aparts.

Deadlifts, which I’ve always done a bunch of, don’t seem to do much for my traps either. Could be because I rarely go above three reps. [/quote]

Well, my volume for high pulls was quite high and I also upped the frequency from 2 to 3 days per week after seeing its effects on my traps.
I would really like to recommend the original layer system to you and Apoklyps for traps development.
I too had gotten nothing in terms of traps from deadlifts, and I also do it for 3 reps and below but my High Pulls were also low rep range albeit high volume and they worked quite well.


#18

clean pulls have helped my traps out alot


#19

[quote]FlatsFarmer wrote:
You mentioned before you had some kind of shoulder situation. If you’ve been laying off your traps, some shrugs or upright rows may help make everything stronger and more stable.
[/quote]

Yeah, I think I’ve got a SLAP tear that’s mostly recovered, but I still can’t do any OHP.


#20

Try some light shrugs in the Smith Machine. With the bar on the rails, it’s really easy to “wedge” yourself in there and get good tension on your traps.

I got on these maybe 6 weeks ago. At first my right side didn’t want to move right at all. It was like that trap wasn’t working, and I couldn’t straighten that arm out all the way. I couldn’t believe how off it was.

6 weeks and a bunch of shrugs my whole right side is working better. My right elbow especially feels better. I think it was taking the slack for my shoulder.