Sponsored by PVL
Written by Tim Rigby, M.A., NSCA-CPT
Practically everyone who’s picked up a weight has a burning desire to obtain an athletic appearance. This is now a universal truth for both males and females. Yet one of the reasons many people fail to achieve this goal is they don’t give their trapezius muscle group sufficient attention. Look at any pro football player, wrestler, shot put thrower or competitive powerlifter, and you’ll observe these individuals not only perform at a high level athletically, but they’ve also got very well-developed trapezius muscles. This is no coincidence – functional performance and strength depend largely on traps development.
People also tend to think of traps as being one large muscle, but in fact they are similar to your triceps in that there are three distinct muscles involved. These can be identified as your upper, middle and lower traps. If you can strike a balance in terms of development for all three areas, you’ll look incredibly athletic; this occurs particularly because of the peak of the traps which makes one look so strong and foreboding.
Here, we’re going to provide you with the best traps exercise for building each of the three traps regions. The old standard of shrugs is included, along with others you might not be expecting. So, let’s get right to it:
LOWER TRAPS: Hang Snatch
Preamble: As you begin this workout with your energy level freshest, you’ll have done yourself a favour if you’ve taken a pre-workout supplement like PVL’s DOMIN8 which provides you with not only a powerful ergogenic effect, but also a razor sharp focus.
Load a barbell that’s resting on a rack at about thigh level to your desired weight. Approach it and grasp it with a very wide overhand grip. Take three steps backward so your range of motion is unencumbered. Stand tall with your feet shoulder width apart and your knees bent slightly for stability.
Forcefully flex your knees a little deeper, then immediately reverse and press sharply into the floor to begin the kinetic chain of motion. Thrust the bar overhead and once it reaches its apex, flex your legs deeply to receive it with control. Keeping the bar steady overhead, fully extend your legs to raise yourself upright. Using control, lower the bar to your thigh level (the “hang” position) and repeat for reps.
MIDDLE TRAPS: Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row
Attach a wide bar (such as the conventional lat pulldown bar) to the cable of the seated cable row apparatus and set the stack to your desired weight. Grasp the bar with a very wide, overhand grip and position yourself on top of the apparatus with feet squarely on the plates. Skootch your butt away from the stack as you hinge forward from your hips, then make your torso vertical.
When you’re fixed in position, row the bar toward your lower chest. Do not involve your legs – avoid any extension which would give you superficial momentum and take the isolation off your traps. When the bar reaches your lower chest, resist the cable pullback for a split second, then allow your arms to carry forward with your back remaining vertical.
UPPER TRAPS: Hexagonal Bar Shrug
Load a hexagonal bar to your preferred weight and stand upright within the interior. With your back erect and your head level, flex your knees to bend down and grasp the bar using a neutral grip in each hand. Some bars have both neutral and overhand grips, but for our purpose herein, the use of a neutral grip is preferred. Stand tall and let your arms hang freely.
When you’re motionless and ready, bend your knees just slightly for stability. Shrug the bar upright, keeping your arms perfectly still, like meat hooks – no pulling action whatsoever. Try to shrug as high and as low as you can to extend the range of motion. Thinking of it as raising your middle shoulders into your ears. Repeat for reps.
For each traps exercise, perform the following set/rep protocol using 75 seconds rest (1 minute and 15 seconds) between sets:
Set 1) Warm-up set of 10 reps with a light weight
Set 2) Increase the weight and perform 8 reps without failing
Set 3) Increase the weight and fail on the 8th rep
Set 4) Decrease the weight by about 30% and perform 10-12 reps
For best results, perform this workout twice a week (e.g. Monday and Thursday) for 4 weeks, then switch up to a different protocol or specialty technique to promote additional muscle stimulus on your traps.
And remember – always use an excellent, safe and effective pre-workout supplement like DOMIN8 from PVL to maximize your traps training performance!