Tim’s Tips are written by Tim Rigby, M.A., NSCA-CPT
Having high and wide trapezius muscles is like the finishing touch to a muscular, athletic body. Try to imagine any bodybuilder who steps on stage, but is completely lacking in the traps department, just below their neck… is that lame or what? Elite strength athletes, and those who play football, rugby and wrestling, all have well-developed traps due to the nature of their training and sport. So, how can you get terrific traps without resorting to boring ol’ dumbbell and barbell shrugs, which have such a small range of motion, that it’s difficult to tell if you’re optimizing their effectiveness?
Easy! Here are 4 other exercises which, you may be surprised to learn, play an integral part of building your traps muscles:
Yes, the king of all compound movements definitely gives your traps a stimulus, as you hold the bar with your arms fixed as simple meat hooks (they must not do any flexing). Feel the tension in your traps and contract them, just before you press into the floor by extending your legs to begin the ascent.
To best use the upright row in a way that targets your traps, use a relatively narrow grip. Wider grips work your deltoids more. So go narrow, but not to the point where your hands are together, which will cause you to round your shoulders forward. Think about 10-12 inches apart.
SEATED CABLE ROW
Using a cable allows you to provide a sustained stimulus on your traps muscles. The seated cable row has a long range of motion, so use it to the max. Go slowly on the negatives (the return to the start) and in the peak position, give your traps a little contraction.
This athletic movement is fun and challenging. Stand upright and hold a barbell in front of you with an overhand grip at shoulder width. Flip your hands backward and upward, and clean the barbell until it’s in front of your neck. Start light and develop feel within the involvement of your traps. Over the next several weeks, you’ll see awesome traps growth!