The traps are a large and powerful muscle. They can also be an awesome sight. Huge hulking trapezius are a statement. They exude power. You don't get hefty traps by playing sports. You get them by lifting weights!

The traps or trapezius muscles are located at the upper portion of your back connecting into the neck and shoulder muscles. Although the exercise most commonly utilized for training traps is the "shrug," the traps are incorporated in just about every movement that requires lifting. Deadlifts, presses, snatches, rows, and even curls require the traps to do some work by assisting and stabilizing the muscles which are more directly worked.


It then stands to reason that strong traps are an asset toward obtaining increased overall strength. Unfortunately, their development is often overlooked. One reason for the lack of attention paid to this neglected bodypart is the limited motion of the exercises involved in their development. Some novice bodybuilders conveniently forget to do "uncomfortable" exercises, opting instead to overdo the ones which they enjoy.

There's also a "trap" to trap training. (Sorry for the pun, but it was just too easy) Traps can respond pretty quickly. If trap development exceeds shoulder development, it may actually make your shoulders look narrower. Too much trap development can also promote a hunched appearance, leading to the infamous "no neck" syndrome. However, if the traps are underdeveloped, the entire upper body will look spindly. The growth of the surrounding bodyparts may become stunted due to the inability to handle heavier weights. No doubt about it, if you want increased upper body strength, you'll need stronger traps!

The following is trap routine which is sure to pack on size and strength through the traps and upper back. It should be performed once a week.

It starts with... SHRUGS

The classic trap builder. Although this movement is usually executed with a barbell, dumbells allow for more freedom of movement. (A Trap Bar also works well.) Doing shrugs in the Smith Machine is not recommended due to the restricted range of motion. Also refrain from "rolling" the shoulders which places unnatural stress on the rotator cuffs. (If you prefer to do so, keep the weight very light.)

I suggest executing shrugs with dumbells while seated to avoid cheating. Wrist straps are also recommended since poundages should be heavy. The straps will keep your hands from giving out before the traps do.

While holding a heavy dumbell in each hand, simply shrug the shoulders up as high as possible. Hold for 2 seconds. Allow the shoulders to drop down completely. Do two sets of 10 reps.

UPRIGHT ROWS

Often thought of as a shoulder exercise, upright rows also work the traps very effectively. Some find that keeping a close grip places more emphasis on the traps while others swear the wider the grip, the more trap involvement. Try a few sets of one or the other and see what works best for you.

The upright row is a movement which some people find uncomfortable. Some so called "experts" in the field dismiss it as too straining to the shoulders. The truth is, all upper body exercises will stress the shoulders to some degree. The golden rule of bodybuilding is; if it hurts -- don't do it. For those of you who have no problem with the upright row, you'll find it to be a very effective movement. Once again, go heavy. Raise the bar in a steady manner paying special attention to the descent. Keep the elbows high to avoid straining the wrists. Go for 8-10 reps with proper form, then cheat a few more reps after that. Do three sets.


POWER CLEANS

This is not only a great trap exercise, it's also one of the very best movements for developing functional strength.

Stand with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Grasp a heavy barbell with a slightly wider than shoulder width grip. Keeping the back as straight as possible, use all the momentum you can muster to lift the bar off the ground and up to your shoulders. (As if to begin a press) Lower and repeat. Keep it heavy enough to only be able to do 4-6 cleans. Rest long enough to be able to perform another 4-6 reps.

SEATED ROWS WITH ELBOWS HIGH

Seated rows are a great overall back exercise which emphasize the rhomboids. But with a simple alteration in arm placement, they also hit the teres major (upper lats) and the traps.

Row in a normal fashion using a V handle while keeping a tight arch in the back. The only difference is; instead of keeping the elbows close to the torso, lift them up and out to the sides. This shifts the emphasis to the upper portion of the back. It also reduces leverage so you may have to cut back a bit on the weight. This exercise adds tremendous thickness throughout the back. Use a full range of motion, extending forward and contracting completely. By this time, your traps will really be feeling it. Try to get 12 reps with good form. Two sets ought to do it.

Well developed trapezius muscles will complete the look of a powerful physique. If they respond a little too well, skip a week here and there and everything should fall into place.

Total trapezius development can add a blast of mass to even the most slender torso. Well built traps are also vital to upper body strength. Give this routine an honest effort and after a few weeks you'll have plenty of both.

1 comments
  1. Anonymous 16 October 2010 06:44  

    I have recently taken a vast interest in increasing the size of my traps and noticed in the gym not many guys had developed traps. At least to what I had developed. So, there were no one I could seek info from. After turning to the internet and finding your info, I have the confidence and the knowledge to reach the development I desire thanks a million and your knowledge is greatly appreciated. sign: JAS