Holy shit this picture has me in stitches lmfao.
Had to share this with you because today we’re going to discuss how to build bigger traps as fast as possible.
Having traps that scream ULTIMATE POWER is something that all Warriors should strive for.
And, building up your trap muscles is quite easy with a barbell or dumbbells. However, there is a wrong way and a right way to build the traps in an efficient way.
The biggest mistake I see with trap building is when people are using too much weight and rolling their shoulders. So, this article is going to teach you how to build big traps the right way.
Let’s get to it, warrior!
Performing the Shoulder Shrug the Correct Way
The shoulder shrug is one of the best exercises to hit those traps. You can directly hit them with deadlifts and cleans, but I rarely do these two exercises.
Therefore, I throw shrugs into my weekly routines. Big traps will add to your overall symmetry. If you want the Lean Warrior physique, then it’s important to hit the traps with some sets.
With that said, you don’t want huge traps. If they’re too big, they will actually make your head look ‘funny’. Your neck might disappear. This is a rare situation so I wouldn’t worry about it if you don’t hit your traps much.
Let’s look at the proper way to do a shoulder shrug first with the barbell:
First things first: you do not need heavy weight to build your trap muscles. Many people make the mistake of throwing on 200+ pounds and shrugging for 8 reps.
This is a quick way to injuring your joint. Do not do this! Traps respond best to low weight, high rep ranges.
So, grab the barbell with no weight. The bar weighs 45 pounds by yourself. This is a good weight for warming up the traps before adding weight onto the bar.
Hold the bar with your hands about shoulder width apart. Let the bar pull your arms and traps down with it’s natural weight. Let gravity do the work here. Feel the stretch in your traps as you let the bar hang in your hands.
This is the starting position of each rep. The more you let the bar hang, the better. This is why you don’t need a lot of weight.
With the bar hanging down naturally and your traps stretched, begin to pull the bar up with just your trap muscles.
Do not let your elbows bend at all during this movement. Keep your arms extended throughout the entire exercise.
When you shrug the bar, you are pulling your shoulders up so that they are basically touching your ears.
This is the top of the rep and you want to squeeze in this position for a good one second. Here’s an image to give you a visual of the squeeze at the top of the movement:
Try to do 20 reps with just the bar. You’ll be surprised at how good of a workout you get from this. Feel the burn as you squeeze for that 1 second at the top of the movement.
After the 1 second squeeze, go ahead and lower the bar back to the original hanging position. Let it hang for a second or two so that you’re fully stretching the traps.
Remember: the movement is straight up, hold, straight down. Do not roll your shoulders in this movement. I know you may have seen people do that in videos, but don’t. It’s not good for your shoulders.
Stick to the up and down movement. Imagine that your shoulders are attached to a rod and you can’t move them in any direction other than up and down.
The “Wrong” Way To Shoulder Shrug
The reason why I put “wrong” in quotes is because of the fact that there are exceptions to every rule.
I’ve seen plenty of people build strength and size with bad form. People also seem to build great physiques doing exercises with a ton of weight or a little weight.
I’m all about teaching you what it most efficient and *safest* for your joints. It’s best to build a powerful physique with as little wear and tear as possible.
This is why I suggest doing shoulder shrugs with lighter weight and high rep ranges. But, if you get results with heavy weights and low reps, then don’t let me keep you from doing that.
My goal is to build a body that lasts for decades. I want to be like Steeve Reeves who was lifting into his 70’s before he unfortunately died from a blood clot post-surgery (very sad).
To keep your traps and shoulders healthy during the shoulder shrug, don’t roll your shoulders.
You get the most resistance when you let the bar use gravity. The gravity will naturally pull your arms downward and stretch the traps. Relax your traps as much as possible and you’ll feel a stretch.
Gravity is already working in your favor. You need to relax so the bar pulls your shoulders, traps and arms downward. You’ll feel an awesome stretch fully relaxed.
Only then should you begin the lift. And, you should pull straight up as described earlier. When you roll your shoulders, you actually give less resistance to the movement.
When you start rolling the shoulders backwards and forwards, you leave the vertical plane. This means you are leaving the movement which gives most resistance.
Too Much Weight?
Another common mistake I see is using too much weight. While your traps are a strong muscle, it’s best to stick to lighter weight to protect your joints.
I could easily shrug 200+ pounds. However, doing so causes pain in my elbows. It looks mighty impressive to shrug 225, but the amount of stress it places on the joints isn’t worth it.
It’s best to stick to lighter dumbbells and barbell weight for the shoulder shrug. The high rep range will still give you hypertrophy that you desire.
Your traps will get enough heavy work from the other lifts you do during shoulder days and back days. Don’t worry about that. Protecting your joints takes priority if you want your body to last for decades.
Higher Reps Builds Big Traps
Once you’re able to shrug the barbell by itself for 25 reps, you’re ready to start adding more weight to your routine.
Start off by adding 10 pounds to each side of the bar. This is a big jump in overall weight, but you’re going to aim for a lower rep range this time.
Shoot for 18 reps at 65 pounds with the barbell. Shrug up and hold for one second as you were doing before with the warmup. Do this for every single rep until you hit 18 reps.
If you’re able to hit 18 reps, then rest for 60 seconds. You will use the same amount of weight for the second set.
Perform the second set with the same amount of weight and form. Try to get 16 reps this time. It may be tough due to the short rest timer, but that’s the point of the exercise.
High reps with light weight and short rest timers will build your traps fast. You’ll be surprised at how fast your traps grow doing this.
Go ahead and do another set. Aim for 14 reps this time using the same weight.
Let’s sum up this routine in a short list:
- Warm up with the bar for 25 reps. Strict form.
- Set 1: perform 18 reps at 65 pounds. Rest for 60 seconds.
- Set 2: perform 16 reps at 65 pounds. Rest for another 60 seconds.
- Set 3: perform 14 reps at 65 pounds.
That’s it. You are welcome to do a 4th set for 12 reps if you feel like you have enough energy to do so. I encourage this! Give your body a shoulder shrug workout to be proud of.
You may also do this same routine with dumbbells. Simply grab the 30 pound dumbbells and shrug with the same form. Keep the dumbbells to your side.
If 30 pounds is too heavy for your hands and elbows, then drop down to a weight that doesn’t hurt. Your joints are most important for this exercise. Don’t do anything that could cause pain.
This shrug workout is best used after going through my shoulder muscle growth routine. It should only add an extra 5 minutes to your workout.
Now get to it! Shrug for life and build those Warrior traps!