The Incredible Hulk started the trapezius craze in the 1970s when Lou Ferrigno (pictured below) flexed his massive green traps on television. Since then a symbol of power and overall mass has been the massive traps coming down from the ears and ending at the shoulders when hitting that impressive “Most Muscular” pose. The term “No Neck” comes from the illusion of having no neck when the traps are fully developed.
The mechanics of developing the traps are not difficult, but it does take grit and determination to handle the weights needed for true mass.
The trapezius muscle attaches at the shoulder joint, to the head of the humerus and to the vertebrae of the neck. When flexed, they pull the shoulder and upper arm upward toward the ears. They are responsible for stabilizing the shoulders and lifting the shoulders on the last portion of overhead lifting. These muscles can pull with great force.
Best Trap Exercises for Mass
Since the action of the muscles involve pulling the shoulders toward the ears, in a shrugging motion, weighted shrugs are the cornerstone and one the best trap exercises.
Weighted shrugs can be done with free weights, cable machines, other low pulley machines, or even static resistance. Many lifters swear by the rotating motion during shrugs, pulling upward and squeezing the shoulder blades together. Others state that it does not add anything to the lift. A few experts claim that it may be harmful to the shoulders to roll them during the motion.
The most important part of the exercise is the upward pull toward the ears. It is important that a full range of motion is used, allowing a good stretch at the bottom and getting a complete contraction at the top. It is also important to use heavy weights, while maintaining good form.
Barbell shrugs would be my first choice when it comes to the best trap exercise for mass and size. Using a barbell over a dumbbell allows you to lift more weight and it is always my philosophy that if you want to gain size you need to choose the exercise that allows you to lift or pull the most weight.
Barbell Shrug – Best Trap Exercise for Mass
A barbell shrug is performed while holding a bar shoulder width apart, arms straight. Slowly lift the bar upward by raising your shoulders, you should be able to feel it isolating your traps. Pause for a moment squeezing at top and slowly return the weight down keeping arms straight.
Upright rows, dumbbell overhead presses (especially the very top of the motion), rowing exercises (pulling them up toward the chest), and lateral raises all work the traps.
Dead lifts and power cleans are two of the most important exercises, next to shrugs, for trap development. The large amounts of weight used in these exercises stresses the traps and stimulates them for massive growth. The traps are involved in these exercises throughout the movement, first stabilizing the shoulders, and finally lifting the shoulders upward and back.
Workouts For Bigger Traps
The traps are usually worked as part of the back workout. Here is a suggested back workout that really will hit your traps:
- Deadlifts for one warm up set of ten repetitions, followed by three work sets of eight to ten repetitions.
- Barbell rows for three work sets of ten repetitions (do two sets pulling the weight up toward your chest, and one set bringing it toward the stomach)
- Pull downs for three work sets of ten repetitions (squeezing the shoulder blades together as the bar is brought down)
- Barbell Shrugs for four work sets of ten to fifteen repetitions (allow a full stretch at the bottom and squeeze the contraction at the top for two seconds and do two sets with the weight in front of the body and two with the weight behind)
- Barbell Upright Rows for two sets of ten to fifteen repetitions (pulling the weight up and back)
These exercises, along with the work the traps get stabilizing the shoulders during other work, will lead to massive growth. The key to massive traps is big weights following the best trap exercises as outline above. So, instead of shrugging in confusion , shrug with confidence and watch those traps explode.
As a reminder muscle cannot grow without proper nutrition and adequate calorie intake, you have been warned…