The traps (short for Trapezius) along with the forearms and calves represent the most visible muscle when one wears clothes.
Of course, many people argue the aesthetic part of having big traps but no matter what your opinion is a developed set of traps is a sign of power and strength.
The traps are a very powerful muscle group that can take a lot of beating and can lift some serious weights.
In addition, the traps recover quite fast and can be trained frequently. Here are some of the best exercises for traps.
Heavy deadlifts work the traps in an isometric fashion. The traps are used to stabilize the upper back and are under constant tension.
There are many people who do not do much dedicated work for their traps besides deadlifts and yet they have very well developed musculature in that area.
Highly recommended article: How To Do Barbell Rows With Proper Form For Maximum Gains
The barbell row focuses on the middle portion of the trapezius muscle.
Of course, the exercise targets the whole back musculature but it’s also not very kind to the trap region. There’s no doubt that if you are strong on the barbell row your middle traps and overall back will be very well developed and quite powerful.
The Olympic lifts have a pulling phase where the traps are heavily involved in the movement. You have to shrug the weight in an explosive fashion so that it can go high enough and allow you to get under. As you can guess this will murder your traps. That’s why the Olympic weightlifters have a very well developed set of traps.
4. Barbell shrugs
The good old barbell shrugs are also a good exercise for your traps. When doing them you have the benefit of isolating your traps and can focus on the muscle without fighting for survival as it happens during the compound lifts.
For this exercise it’s advisable to use straps during your working sets so that you don’t end your set because of weak grip. The goal is to overload the traps, not the forearms.
There’s another version of the barbell shrugs which go under the name of power shrugs. The power shrug is a shrug with a lot of weight. Most people do this exercise with weight they can’t even deadlift. That’s because the movement is very short. You lift the weight with your traps while also using your hips to generate upward force.
This exercise is not recommended for beginner who have not developed proper pulling mechanics and back awareness. In order to benefit from this movement you need to be an experienced lifter. Otherwise you would be wasting your time and risking injury. The popular U.S. strength coach Bill Starr loves this exercises. You can read his article: The Case For Power Shrugs in order to understand the movement a little better.
It may surprise some of you but the overhead press works the traps too. When the weight is locked above your head the trapezius has to work extremely hard to stabilize the heavy barbell over your head.
Of course, the overhead press may not be the most dedicated trap exercise but it’s still a compound exercise that can be a valuable addition to your muscle construction plan.
The Kroc row represents a regular dumbbell row on a bench. What makes it special is that it’s done for a lot of reps (20+). It was popularized by former powerlifter and current bodybuilder Matt Kroc who claimed that this exercise helped him improve his upper back strength for the deadlift. Needless to say the Kroc Row will murder your whole back, biceps and forearms. Many people use straps for their last sets in order to get a few more extra reps in.
The rack pull is essentially a partial deadlift done in a power rack. It takes the quadriceps out of the movement and allows you to lose more weight than the regular deadlift. As a result you overload your upper back and traps tremendously. This exercise should not be done by beginners who can’t deadlift with proper form.
9.Snatch grip shrugs
A cool way to hit the traps even harder is to do your shrugs with a snatch grip. The snatch grip shrugs are basically shrugs with a wide grip. You will need straps for this one without a doubt because it’s super stressful on the grip and your hands will open before the trapezius has received the needed stimulation for growth and size.