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Your Traps are flat triangular-shaped muscles that run from the back of your neck across to your shoulder girdle, and all the way down to the middle of your spine.
Due to its multiple attachment points and the different directions of the muscle fibers, each trap can be separated into 3 sections, the upper portion,
Where the muscle fibers run at an upward angle, the mid-portion where the muscle fibers run almost straight across, and a lower portion where the muscle fibers run at a downward angle.
Together these muscle fibers are responsible for extending your neck and moving your head side to side, lowering and elevating your shoulders, retracting your shoulder blades, and much more.
To target all the portions of the traps you’ll have to perform different exercises from multiple angles which will allow you to have better overall trap development.
And by developing your traps not only will it give you a stronger, more aesthetic looking appearance from the front and from the back, but it’ll also help you prevent some very common recurring neck and shoulder injuries.
So today I want to give you guys the 5 best exercises to build up those traps starting first with one of the all-time best exercises for your upper traps, barbell shrugs.
The exercise itself is pretty simple and helps you isolate the upper traps very effectively. When loading up the weight that you’ll be using you want to take into account that your traps are very very powerful muscles.
So even though you don’t have to start off with a whole lot of weight when doing the exercise for your first time you do want to work up to a higher weight load as time passes to help your traps grow because they respond very well to heavyweight loads.
Of course, proper form is important as well so to begin you want to load up a barbell and position it on racks a little lower than waist level.
Stand with your feet squared off towards the barbell and grab it with an overhand grip with your hands about at shoulder width or a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
Then unrack the bar take a step back and shrug the weight up as if you’re trying to make a confused or an I don’t know expression with your shoulders.
While shrugging you want to make sure that your elbows are straight and that your arms are relaxed and hanging straight down instead of having your elbows bent.
We’re not trying to target the biceps here we’re going for the traps.
Once you sharing the weight up you’ll want to hold that position at the top of the contraction for a second and then lower the weight nice and slow down to the starting position and repeat for reps.
Do not just jerk the weight up and down too fast. It’ll be much more effective if you can control the weight throughout the entire exercise.
You also want to avoid rolling your shoulders as you do the shrugs. Even though rolling your shoulders will incorporate some of the middle and lower traps since you’ll be pulling your shoulder blade back,
you still won’t want to do that because it’s going to decrease the effectiveness of the exercise and take Focus away from the upper traps which is the whole point of this movement.
Another common mistake that you want to avoid is using so much weight that you’re not performing the exercise with a full range of motion.
When you see guys doing this you’ll see them barely raising their shoulders up and moving so slightly that it doesn’t look like they’re doing much of anything at all.
If you find yourself doing that drop the weight to an amount that you can actually shrug all the way up and down with a full range of motion. Again we want to go heavy but we want to do it right
Let’s move on to the next exercise which is the bent arm lateral raise and we want to perform this exercise with certain variations to help Target our traps a lot better.
Now, this exercise is so great for the traps because it has very similar mechanics and follows a similar movement pattern as the upright row except it’s a lot safer.
Many of you probably already know that the upright row puts your shoulders into a very bad position of maximal internal rotation which it can lead to a serious shoulder impingement injury.
With that said the upright row is actually very good at targeting the traps and it’s actually one of the best exercises but the problem is it comes with a lot of risks that outweigh the benefits.
So we can take a lot of those benefits that we would get for our traps with upright rows, while still keeping the shoulders safe by doing bent arm lateral raises.
To begin you would grab two dumbbells and rest them in front of your hips while leaning slightly forward.
Then while keeping the elbows bent at about 90 degrees you’re going to raise the dumbbells up to shoulder level but unlike the upright row,
you’re going to keep your hands in front of your body rather than sliding the barbell up along your body.
This will prevent the excessive internal rotation that we see with the regular upright barbell rows.
At the top position, your elbows should be either parallel with your wrists or slightly above your wrists.
And when you’re raising the dumbbells up think about driving your elbows up toward the ceiling.
Then lower the dumbbells back down to that original starting position in front of your hips and repeat for reps.
As an extra benefit, you’ll also target your shoulders with this exercise and you’ll be able to lift a heavier weight than what you normally could for regular lateral raises.
This is because your elbow is bent rather than being extended creating a shorter lever length, giving you more leverage.
Next, we have probably the best compound exercise to work all parts of your traps the deadlift.
This is seriously by far one of the best exercises to develop many of your back muscles as well as traps.
A lot of this has to do with the fact that you’re able to lift a lot more weight in a deadlift than almost any other exercise, so make sure that you try to go heavy after you’ve mastered the proper form with a lightweight.
To begin step up to a loaded barbell, with your shins close to the bar, and plant your feet a little wider than hip-width apart.
Hinge your hips and bend down to the bar. Grip the bar slightly wider than where your shins meet the bar.
Stick your chest out, and drop your hips down, while squeezing your shoulder blades together to pull all the slack out of the bar.
Don’t make the mistake of leaning too far forward, you want your shoulders in line with your hands.
When lifting the weight, don’t pull with your lower back. Instead lift the weight up by squeezing your abs, pushing your feet into the ground, and hinging your hips by driving them forward until you’re standing upright, then repeat for reps.
Remember to avoid making the mistake of leaning too far back and hyperextending your spine at the end of every rep.
You want to stop when you get to the point where you are standing straight up and not go any further back.
Now on top of regular deadlifts, you can also do rack pulls, where you would set up the guards inside the squat rack and position the barbell at around knee level or slightly higher, before performing a similar movement pattern to deadlifts, except from a higher starting point.
Just like the deadlift you would raise the barbell up by hinging your hips, hold it there at that top position for 2 to 3 seconds This will work your lower backless, but it’ll allow you to overload your upper back and traps.
Next up we have another version of shrugs where we will be using dumbbells, and instead of standing straight up to perform these shrugs, we’re going to be lying face forward on an incline bench.
Since you will be doing this exercise at an incline angle it helps you target a slightly different part of your traps than when doing it standing.
This will help you develop thicker, and more well-rounded traps and upper back in general.
Start by setting a bench to about a 60-degree angle. Then lay face down on the bench, grab two heavy dumbbells off the floor, and just like before allowing your arms to hang straight down and do not bend them at the elbows.
Then simply shrug your shoulders up, squeeze and hold at that top position for a second, and then slowly lower back down before repeating for reps.
Remember that the same rules apply here as with regular shrugs, make sure you can control the weight and that you can shrug it all the way up and down.
Now to mix things up you can also use the dumbbells to do shrugs while standing straight up.
This will be slightly different from regular barbell shrugs because your hands will be in a neutral position instead of a pronated position and your hands will be at your sides instead of in front of your body.
The other benefit you’ll get from the dumbbells whether you do the shrugs standing or at an incline is that they will help you prevent muscle imbalances by hitting each side separately.
Also, one last way to shrug heavyweight while having your arms at your sides is by using a trap bar instead of dumbbells.
This will allow you to still use really heavyweight like you would with a barbell but you would maintain a more upright posture since your hands would be at your sides.
If you have access to a trap bar I highly recommend mixing in heavy trap bar shrugs into your routine.
Finally, our last exercise that’s excellent for building up bigger traps is the farmer walk.
You can do this exercise either with dumbbells or again by using the trap bar.
Regardless of which one you use you’ll want to grab some heavyweight, then stand upright with the weights held by your sides.
Before starting you’ll want to make sure that you’re squeezing your shoulder blades together nice and tight so that your back is straight.
Then simply take short, quick steps and walk back and forth with that weight.
Now even though this exercise may sound simple it’s far from easy and it will totally exhaust not only your traps but also your biceps, shoulders, and forearms.
Ideally, you’ll want to walk until you can’t hold the weight anymore. And if you can walk for longer than 1 or 2 minutes then you definitely want to increase the weight you’re using.
Just 45 to 90 seconds of walking with a heavyweight load will provide an excellent challenge and highly help you develop your traps.
that’s about it guys I really hope this video has helped you out, if it has made sure you subscribe to my channel and hit that bell icon.
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