T Nation

Why Do Only Lunges Hit My Traps?


ive tried everything to get my traps to grow. upright rows(close grip, wide grip) Shrugs with dumbbells, a barbell, trap bar. ive tried shrugs with all different techniques.. with my shoulders pulled back, pulled forward, traps flexed forward, head up, head down. going heavy for low reps, lighter with higher reps and still nothing.

hang cleans, face pulls... i dont know what it is but i just cant get mt traps to get sore the next day. i honestly dont beleive i can do all of those exercises wrong, but i just cant feel my traps working.

recently ive started doing lunges again, wearing a weighted vest and holding some 20kg db's. and the next day, i can feel some slight soreness is my traps! whats that all about?
can someone please give me some advice, because i wont be doing lunges to hit my traps.



When you do lunges your traps are constantly contracting to support the dumbbells and sets of lunges are normally quite long so your traps are probably not used to this workload so that's why they are sore afterwards. I normally don't feel my traps at all if I go too heavy with shrugs but recently I did some really heavy rack pulls with one set being a static hold at the top. My traps were sore for about 4 days after that, Try just holding heavy dumbbells or a barbell for a couple of sets of about 20 seconds and see if you can feel your traps then.


surely it was the rack pulls that made you sore and not so much the static hold?

how many sets and what weight should i use for this? wouldnt my grip give out first before i can feel it in my traps?


surely it was the rack pulls that made you sore and not so much the static hold?
how much weight were you pulling, and was it above or below the knee?

how many sets at what weight should i use for this? wouldnt my grip give out first before i can feel it in my traps?

sorry for all the questions.


personally i've always had a problem feeling my traps with most variations of shrugs but i found when i started doing hang high pulls i could really feel my traps at work. might be worth a shot. I think in my case my traps seem to respond better to explosive lifts as opposed to isolated, slow reps.


The static hold is where the traps (middle and upper) are going to be hit the most - that's where they're the main muscle holding on to the weight. In a bent over position, you have lats etc. coming into play taking some of the load off the traps.

Get some straps. They cost shit all and will make hitting the traps SO much easier because you won't be limited by your grip. They'll also help with hitting the lats on pulldowns because you'll take the forearm out of the movement.


you know when you say a 'static hold' do mean to just stand there and hold the weight. or do you mean a 'static contraction' when you shrug your shoulders up and then hold?


Farmer walks? Similar exercise to lunges, except you can use more weight.

You've already tried lighter weight, hard 5 second contractions?


For those of you "not feeling shrugs" when they are "heavy" how heavy is heavy to you?

Because I have a hard time believing many people are going to shrug 405+ for 15+ reps and be able to say with a straight face they don't feel it.


only about 110kg. but i cant seem to get stronger because i cant feel them at work. its doesnt matter wheather i squeeze like shit at the top, or cut the weight in half and rep for 20.. cant feel them working oddly enough.

when i first starting to do shrugs, i didnt use to get a pump but the next day i couldnt turn my head without the pain being ridiculous. now, i can get a pump but no pain or growth.


I'm sorry, but if you can't get stronger that 250lbs on shrugs of all things, you should just quit now.


try doing single dumbell shrugs til you puke - 50+ reps


I'll re-iterate. Get straps. Put 3 wheels per side on the bar, pick it up and hold until your traps scream for mercy. Repeat.


'3 wheels' is about 140 kilos aint it?
i tried what you said earlier , except with 130 kilos. it was hard to hold onto with to straps so i think my grip let me down. i used a double overhand grip too.

this is what i done (by no means impressive).

  • 130kg for 30 seconds
  • 130kg for 30 seconds
  • 130kg for 21 seconds
  • 120kg for 21 seconds
  • 110kg for 28 seconds.

not the best, it was my grip that let me down.

if i flex my traps forward while doing this, would this help or cause unnecessary stress?


Definitely invest in straps if you want your traps to grow. I couldn't get a good workout from them because my grip limited me (had to resort to lighter weight and higher reps). Got straps, bumped up to 365lbs and they are doing just fine again.

I realize there are people who don't need straps to go really heavy on shrugs, i am not one of them. No gorilla grip here lol.


Try John Meadows' reeves deadlifts with the shrug up movement at the end.

Of course you will need some grip plates.

I only used 120kg on these and they not only lit my whole back up but they fried my traps.

Your milage however may vary.

Also this from same article.

"Your traps actually run in three different directions. Shrugs work primarily the upper traps; here are the types of shrugs that I've found to be the most effective, yet seldom performed.

Dumbbell shrugs with a 3-second pause/flex at the top ? This will destroy your traps. The pause and flex kills all momentum and forces your traps to work much harder than the standard bouncing up and down method. Grab a pair of 100 lb dumbbells and do 12 reps with 3-second pauses ? you'll see what I mean.

Barbell shrugs with a 3-second pause/flex ? Same as above except with a barbell.

You also have a middle and lower section to your traps. The middle portion of your traps pulls your scapulae in toward the spinal column. They work in concert with your rhomboids. To nail this area, the main thing to remember is elbow alignment: You have to keep your elbows up higher, so that your lats don't take over. This will also engage some rear delt.

Any type of supported row allows you to focus on elbow alignment and squeezing, so for this reason I choose to use a machine".


Hold a contraction at the top of the shrug, and while lowering, fight the weight to slow it down. Then shrug back up again quickly. This time under tension will replicate the effect you got from lunging, without having to concentrate on lunging in order to work traps.


dre1986, il have to give the high pulls a go. could you point me in the direction of a video on youtube where someone does the pull properly. just so i can use it as a reference point.

hopefully this will work, putting an emphasis on the negative part of the movement. ive tried pretty much everything else.

thanks for all the replys.


and what about heavy swings, will they hit the traps? using a dumbbell, kettlebell or just something heavy?

because of the explosive nature of the movement that they might work?


Okay. Here is the better question.

How much weight have you added with your hang cleans? Did you get stronger with hang cleans? If not, work on it. It doesn't even have to be hang cleans. It can be shrugs. The fact of the matter is, if you are not getting stronger, you are not getting bigger.

The ONLY exception is if you are already strong for your weight but want to bodybuild.

Here's another thing. Forget you traps. Do a reputable training program that gets you strong. Eat, sleep, train, repeat.

Do that for a year or more and come back to us and see if you're still going to complain about your traps.


Trust me on this one buddy. I recommend Bill Starr or Mark Rippetoe's programs. Start off with their beginner programs and then move on to the intermediate after 3 months. If you train consistently enough to reach advanced, that is when you should start worrying about itsy bitsy details like:

"OMG! My bodybuilding competition is coming next 4 months and I need to make sure my TRAPEZIUS MUSCLES ARE NOT LAGGING!"

"OMG! I have a major sticking point at the top of my bench. I think I need to start a good training program with bands."

"OMFG! The Olympics is coming soon and I just can't clean and jerk more than 455 pounds yet!!"