The traps are very often the muscle group that gets ‘forgotten’. Take a look at any training split and you’ll usually see that traps are completely absent, or that they’re just lumped in with ‘back day’. This is even on detailed training programs that have specific days for ‘forearms’ and ‘obliques’.
This is a big mistake though. Not only are traps a great indicator of a well-balanced physique (for exactly this reason) but they also make a huge impact to your aesthetics. Big traps give you a much more hulk-like appearance and help you to take up that much more space psychologically.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you should be training your traps…
Two Moves to Rule Them All
Most of the training that guys do do for their traps revolves around a single exercise: the barbell trap. However, it’s important that you don’t fall into this trap as this exercise just doesn’t cut it on its own. Not only can your shoulders and lats end up doing a lot of the work, but it can actually end up exaggerating that ‘sloped’ effect that makes your shoulders look narrow.
So instead, you’re going to take a resistance band and then you’re going to anchor it onto something sturdy where it will be close to the ground. Now you’ll position yourself at ninety degrees to that band, hold the handle and allow the resistance to pull your arm out about 45 degrees.
Now you’re going to shrug and when you do, you’ll be shrugging both upwards and in towards your neck (at 45 degrees). Essentially, this is a similar move to a regular shrug, except you’re changing the angle of the resistance slightly so that it targets the traps specifically much more effectively.
This move also works just as well with a cable machine.
For the second move, you’re going to take a barbell plate and then you’re going to slowly raise it with both hands over your head and then lower it again. The key of course is to squeeze the traps and really feel it working the right area.
The reason this is so important is that it’s going to be working the crucial middle-lower trap area which often gets forgotten. We always focus on the top of the traps because that’s the part we can see and we’re a vain bunch. But the middle and the lower portion are also crucial for developing a detailed and aesthetic back for those back double bis. What’s more, it will help to provide stability and control for overhead elevations.
Both these moves should be using weights that allow you to do 20-30 reps and you don’t need to do too much work on the traps. Remember that they’re secondary movers for a lot of moves including bench press.
However, that doesn’t mean you can simply ignore traps or do nothing but shrugs. A well-rounded program is what leads to a well-rounded physique, so make sure you’re giving every muscle group the love they deserve!