So you wanna get that “yoked” look. You want traps that could move mountains. Camel humps to put mid-00s WWE’s Batista to shame.
But how do you get there?
There answer is simple.
Now, you may be surprised to hear this, but train them more.
Big traps — even among lifters enhanced to the gills — can be a rare sight.
It is simply because they’re pitifully undertrained.
Yeah, yeah, there are also genetic components at play here, but the aforementioned Batista also struggled to put size on his hulking traps early in his lifting days.
And what did he do to remedy this weakness, you might ask?
Make Your Traps Pop Now
He hit them — hard.
Batista would run the dumbbell rack, on one giant mega drop set, wearing himself out.
And this it what traps respond best to: high volume, heavy weights.
It’s cute and dandy to throw in 3×10 shrugs at the end of your back or shoulder day.
Cranking out two plates a side on the Smith Machine ain’t gonna do much, let’s be frank here.
You’re gonna need to go hard, heavy, and train through the delayed onset muscles soreness if you wanna bring up this body part to speed.
Here are, in my humble opinion, the best trap exercises you can do:
- Snatch-grip high pulls
- Hang power snatch
- High rep power shrugs
- Running the rack dumbbell shrugs
- Farmer’s Walks/Deadlift Walks as a finisher
OK, so we have five total exercises — one of which is a finisher that you can do at the end of your workout.
You are going to need to invest in a pair of lifting straps for this one as your forearms will give way before your traps.
You might also need anti-inflammatories or painkillers for the days of the DOMS to follow as this IS going to HURT — but in a good way.
Two of the exercises I’ve selected will be reserved for shoulder day as the movement pattern is more consistent with shoulder exercises and require a smaller load.
And two of the exercises will be for back day and to be performed AFTER your barbell or rowing movement.
Sample Shoulder Workout:
1x Overhead Pressing Movement (4×8-12)
1x Snatch-grip High Pull 3×6 (I’ve chosen this one because it’s less technically demanding) (No more than 6 reps per set — trust me, bro — as your form will be susceptible to breakdown and your traps and forearms will be screaming)
2x Lateral Raise Variation (3×10-15 on each)
2x Rear Delt Exercises (3×10-15 on each)
Finisher: 4 rounds of Farmer’s Walks for 30 seconds
I love shoulder days; I often see them as a half-rest day for my central nervous system.
You should use these days to forge mind-muscle connection — with the exception of the snatch-grip high pull, which is more of a violent and athletic movement — and to practice healthy shoulder rotations, hitting the medial and posterior heads with higher volume to counteract my pressing movements on chest days.
Forcefully and explosively shrug your traps hard when executing this movement
Place your hands at a similar width as you would if you were doing a wide-grip upright row and don’t exceed this range of motion to avoid impinging your shoulders.
Sample Back Workout 1:
Barbell Row 3×6-12
Power Shrugs 3×10+ (for this one, don’t attempt to pull the weight off the rack; if the weight’s too heavy to deadlift from the floor, you’re bound to be butchering the form.) (Don’t ego lift either, even though cheating on your final reps is allowed. You can attempt As Many Reps As Possible on the final set if you have anything in the tank.)
And I’m talking about super high rep ranges. Don’t be shy to hit 90% of your deadlift 1RM for sets of 15-20. I once managed to eke out 50 reps on 405lb.
Deadlift* (back when I used to powerlift, I’d throw in shrugs and barbell rows before attempting deadlift PRs — and it would work to great effect as it would pique my central nervous system and encourage me to rip the weight off the ground with more aggression.)
Chest-supported Row 3×8-12
Lat Pull-Down 3×8-15
Finisher: 4 rounds of 20 second Deadlift Walks (find roughly 50% of your deadlift 1RM and walk with the barbell at lockout for 20-30 seconds — you can hate me later.)
Sample Back Workout 2:
Weighted Pull-ups 3×6-10
Chest-supported Rows 4×10-12
Dumbbell Rows 3×10-12
Running the Rack Dumbbell Shrugs (1 Round is more than plenty, leave 1-2 reps in the tank before lowering weight and use straps.
Finisher 4×30 second Farmer’s Walks
Try spacing your back and shoulder workouts 3 days apart to give your poor traps time to recover.
As I previously mentioned a couple of time, you will need lifting straps to do this properly.
Even élite level strongmen wouldn’t be able to do this without straps.
I can guarantee you, you will put on size if you make these tweaks to your program and have recovery and nutrition on point.
All that needs to be done is a slight change up.
I also don’t expect most lifters to be able to go from abjectly undertraining their traps to hitting them like a Dragonball-Z extra in a few workouts.
You should ease yourself into them — perhaps starting with throwing in the finisher, an isolation movement for the traps, first.
Anyway, best of luck hunting down what will surely be a fine pair of traps flanking your neck.
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