The Best Traps Exercises

The Best Traps Exercises

A Joey Porter neck, or lack thereof, starts with these five traps exercises.

Traps. Big ones. The reason why it looks like you’re smuggling two oranges in the top of your shirt.The reason why size large shirts will only hang to the top of your belt. The reason you’re actually going to fill out that wife beater this summer.

Just like gorilla forearms, traps gives you “the look:”the look of a guy who hits it hard in the gym and never half asses anything. Maybe you thought the only thing you can do for traps was barbell shrugs. Wrong. That’d be like saying the only thing you can do for bis is curls. The truth is there are a bunch of variations that will keep your body guessing and your traps growing. So check these five traps exercises out, work them into your workout routine, and start seeing the impact a fine set of traps can have on your life.

One Arm Dumbbell Shrugs:
I like starting with these first, as they help warm you up and stretch you out prior to moving serious weight. Grab a dumbbell and hold it straight by your side. Shrug your shoulder to your neck, pause for a second at the top, and bring the weight back down to the starting position. Make sure not to lean to the side that the dumbbell is on, by stabilizing with your core. And don’t let your head lean to the side either. So long as you’re repping out 4 sets of 10, 10, 8, and 6, you’ll feel the burn in your traps and core the next day.

Barbell Shrugs:
The staple. Plain and simple, this is one meaty movement. While some exercises are all about hitting a particular muscle group with different angles and less weight, these bad boys hit your traps and grip strength hard and heavy. Don’t go so heavy that you can’t get a good range of motion, but go heavy enough so that you fail on the last set of your last rep. I usually go straight sets of 4 x 8 with these but if you want to dial up the weight 4 x 6 works as well.

High Hang Pulls:
Go heavy here as well (As you can see I did 3 reps). With these, focus on pulling up and squeezing more with your traps and less of your arms as you bring the barbell from the front of your body up to your chin. This is a power move so if you need to use your hips and legs for momentum (as if you’re doing the beginning part of a hang clean), go for it. Just grind out 4 sets of 4-6 and you’ll be in a good place.

Dumbell Shrugs:
Another classic. With these and the barbell shrugs you’re not only going to strengthen your traps and shoulders, but you’ll also improve that beastly grip. Truth be told, grip is one of the most underrated aspects of the steel game. A stronger grip means moving more weight whether it’s on the bench, rows, or farmers walks. The difference between these and the barbell version is that with barbell shrugs your palms are facing you (or facing away from you if you opt to do them behind your back). With these your palms will be facing your side, or slightly pointed towards your front. You’ll feel the difference and benefit from the different positions (yeah… that’s exactly what she said). Again, 4 x 8 should work here as well.

Plate Pulls:
A J SHEZ exclusive. This movement is going to hit your front delts a bit as well, but hey it’s shoulder day anyways. And let’s face it, this exercise just looks RAW. I mean picking up two 45’s and throwing them around sounds like a good day at the office to me! Approach plate pulls the same way as you’d approach the high hang pulls and make sure you get the weight just below your chin.The only difference is that these are more of a finisher, so dial up the reps and lower the sets. 3 sets of 12-15 should be perfect.

Your arsenal for attacking traps just got a whole lot bigger. I’m not saying you gotta do all these exercises back to back and dedicate a whole day to them… but I’m also not telling you not to turn them into a complete upper body workout.Either way, you’re now more prepared than ever to stretch the top straps of those tank tops you’re buying for summer.

To gain muscle and build strength in those traps, 1R would also recommend the following supplements:

  1. Optimum Nutrition 2:1:1 Recovery - The carbs and protein will help you recover and build lean muscle faster after tough workouts
  2. Cytosport Creatine - By increasing your body's ATP production creatine will help you become more explosive, more powerful, and more athletic when taken before or after workouts
  3. Optimum Nutrition BCAA 5000 Powder – Adding this product to your pre or post-workout routine will help build lean muscle mass, increase protein synthesis, and improve energy levels
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About the Author

Jake Scieszka, SHEZ if you will, is a regular contributor to OneResult.com and is a certified trainer at Equinox’s flagship location in New York. He is certified as a personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and played junior hockey in Binghamton, NY before getting his bachelor’s degree from NYU.