F*ck your skinny abs workouts and glute-ham tie in exercises. That sh*t is for Insta bitches that want to get lean enough to have their own 10% code for some dumb clothing line.
This article is about developing what epitomizes masculinity – a huge, strong and assertive trapezius muscle. The term ‘jacked’ was invented for this workout.
Not many body parts say “Watch out, bitch! I’m a mean motherf*cker!”.
Your glutes certainly don’t. Neither do your calves.
Having a big and powerful chest or a broad back acts as a warning sign to all who dare cross your path. But nothing screams “F*CK OFF!” quite like a big ol’ set of traps. Why? Because it’s intimidating as fuark.
In this ultimate guide we’ll take you through everything you need to know. It’s time to ditch the pencil neck and build traps that show no mercy.
Trap game: Article preview:
- Your trapezius muscles sit on top of your shoulders. They’re a dominant, imposing muscle group that signal your alpha power.
- As a multi-functional muscle, you need a variety of exercises to hit it effectively. There’s no room for a single-dimensional workout plan here.
- Huge trap mass comes from exercises involving scapula elevation, retraction and depression. Use them.
- Your traps are a mixed-fiber muscle. High reps AND low reps are the deal here, bro.
Trapezius Muscles: What Are They?
Your traps sit on top of your shoulders, down your back and up to your neck. They’re called trapezius as these meaty shelves of mass are shaped like a trapezoid (a 4-sided shape with 2 parallel sides).
As a large, thick muscle, the trapezius originates at the mid-line of your spine as well as right up at the base of your skull. It attaches onto your clavicle (collar bone) as well as two areas of your shoulders (acromion process and spine of the scapula).
Your trapezius is thicker at the top (where the neck meets the shoulder) and gets thinner the lower it goes).
Functions of the trapezius
Because of its large surface area, the traps have several functions. If you imagine the muscle split into upper, middle and lower fibers, it is involved in:
- Upper fibers elevate the scapula: involved in movements where you raise your shoulders to your ears such as when you shrug.
- Middle fibers retract the scapula: involved in rowing movements as you pull your shoulder blades together.
- Lower fibers assist middle fibers/depress scapula and also rotate the scapula upwards: involved in movements such as overhead press as well as rowing.
Check out our 10 best back exercises for bodybuilding workouts for a full-scale back muscle annihilation!
Fiber type of the trapezius
Your traps are made up of both type 1 and 2 fibers:
- Type 1: Small in size, power production and ‘twitch’ speed, type 1 fibers are largely involved in endurance training.
- Type 2: These are large, powerful fibers with a fast twitch speed and a big potential for growth.
Every muscle is different.
For example, the biceps have a mixed muscle fiber typing and the hamstrings have a higher proportion of endurance fibers.
According to research using myosin heavy chain staining, your traps are around 60-80% slow twitch, However, some dudes have as much as 72% fast twitch and therefore have a higher genetic advantage for muscle growth.
Interestingly, steroid users experience a natural change in fiber typing of the traps, with a shift towards more type 2 fibers.
This is probably due to the high proportion of androgen receptors in this muscle.
Why is this important?
Those that excel in strength sports tend to naturally (or unnaturally if you’re on gear) have more type 2 fibers. As such, heavier loads work better for developing the traps.
For full development, varying your rep ranges is a good idea. Hitting different muscle fibers by changing up the intensity of your training will help you annihilate more fibers and grow huge slabs of trapezoid-shaped mass.
Just the tip: To hit your trapezius muscle fully you should focus on both high and low rep sets, but emphasize heavier sets for optimal development. That way you’ll activate the full spectrum of muscle fibers.
The Importance of Building Traps
You wanna be a mean, unf*ckwithable monster of a dude? Train your traps.
There’s more to trap day than just scaring the shit out of some beta dude. Train them right and both your health and performance will improve dramatically.
Here’re just a few benefits of trapezius training:
- Develop balance, symmetrical aesthetics
- Enhanced power production during pull movements, grappling, throwing and overhead movements
- Makes you an intimidating force on the field or court
- Reduced neck and shoulder injuries
- Protects your rotator cuff muscles
- Better posture
Bro Point: There’s more to trap training than aesthetics. Upper back training improves everything from posture to shoulder health.
“It’s a trap!!” Check out the very best upper back weapons to arm yourself with.
It’s time to take a walk down trapezius lane. Although that lane will need to be as wide as a highway once you strut your thick-ass shoulders down it.
These are the core exercises that should form your best traps workouts. Enjoy bro…
#1. Dumbbell Shrugs
When you consider the unique physiology of the traps, dumbbell shrugs are one of the most beneficial exercises. You’re hitting the upper fibers by elevating your scapula, and dumbbells allow you to have your arms directly by your sides, rather than with a bar that forces you to rotate your shoulder inward to grip it.
As traps exercises go, this is the simplest. But get it right and it’s a God damn beautiful exercise too.
- Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells and let them against the outside of your thighs, with your palms facing inward.
- Lock your arms out and keep your head facing forwards.
- Raise your shoulders up in a straight line shrugging motion. Aim to bring your traps as near to your ears as you can.
- Lower down under control, letting the load of the dumbbells pull your shoulder girdle down under control.
- Repeat until you hit fatigue. Aim to complete 5 x 6 reps.
#2. The Deadlift
So, here’s the SpotMeBro personal favorite: Why, bro?
We’d would recommend it to every person out there, whether you’re old, young, want to be a bodybuilder, or just look jacked. Whether you’re a strong alpha pussay killer or still play D&D in your momma’s basement and masturbate into your favorite sock – everyone should deadlift.
The deadlift will get you huge monstrous traps by forcing you to stabilize the shoulder girdle during the lift.
In the early stages of the deadlift, the traps work hard to inhibit forced protraction. In other words, they contract statically to stop your shoulders being pulled forward. At the top of the movement they fight to stop your shoulders being pulled down to the floor (shoulder depression).
The deadlift will strengthen your core and will help you build a bulletproof lower back too. Only one thing is required; correct technique bro!
So, ditch the ego and lift clever, heavy and with impeccable form.
- Stand close to a barbell with a hip to shoulder-width stance. The bar should cover your first lace as you look down.
- Grab the barbell with a double overhand grip, as narrow as you can (your forearms will touch the outside of your thighs).
- Keep a neutral, tight back as you push your heels through the floor and pull the bar up, keeping it close to your body as you can.
- Once the bar passes knee height, drive your hips forward to full extension. At the top of the movement the bar should be sat mid-thigh with your arms locked and your body stood tall.
- Reverse the movement until the bar touches the ground
- Repeat. Aim for 4 x 8-10 reps.
#3. Barbell Shrugs
Again, one of the best exercises for full trap development. It also focuses on some upper back muscles which are mostly left unworked.
Biomechanics testing using EMG shows that barbell shrugs activate your traps more than any other exercise. It’s the king, plain and simple.
It’s a raw power exercise that bends bars, tears up your grip and forces everyone in the gym to bow at your sheer strength and force.
- Grab a barbell and place it on some blocks or a squat stand at a few inches below hip height. The bar should be touching your body and your palms are facing in towards you in a double overhand position.
- Lock your arms out and keep your head facing forwards.
- Raise your shoulders up in a straight line shrugging motion. Aim to bring your traps as near to your ears as you can. Bend that bar, bro.
- Lower down under control but don’t let the bar touch the supporting stands.
- Repeat until you hit fatigue. Aim to complete 6 x 4 reps.
#4. Rack Pulls
This is another great exercise for traps and also gets you a strong lower back. It develops a pussy-smashing hip drive and strong, manly glutes that signal women to your bedroom skills.
The key is the get the lunk alarm firing. Go hard, go heavy and go loud by repping out fast and smashing the bar against the stands on the way down.
We’re in high velocity town, bro – destination trap mass central.
Rack ’em up!
- Much like for the barbell shrug, set up a bar on some squat stands. Just make sure the bar is sat at a height in line with the top of your knee.
- Double-overhand that bitch with a tight grip and hip hinge so that your shoulders are over the bar.
- Copy what you would for the second half of a deadlift – blast your glutes forward and maintain a neutral back as you drive the bar upwards.
- Hold your head forward and your chest tall as you survey the envious looks from mere mortals.
- Reverse and repeat. Complete 5 x 5 reps.
#5. Upright Rows
When it comes to building traps, this is what bodybuilders traditionally use the most.
This exercise never fails to give a pump in those trapezius muscles – it’s a high rep, high-horsepower upper back builder. But remember, if you hold the barbell at different positions, different muscles may work, so the technique is very important on this one.
- Grab a barbell with a double-overhand grip around shoulder-width. Going too arrow can cause shoulder impingement so watch out, bro.
- Stand up tall with your chest pumped and eyes looking forward.
- Lead with your elbows and pull the bar up, keeping it close to your body as you do so. Aim to pull to around mid-upper chest height if shoulder flexibility allows it.
- Keep your wrists fixed and strong throughout – ain’t no room for limp wrist action here dude.
- Lower to the start position and rep out. Aim for 4 x 12-15 reps for an insane pump.
Now that you’re loaded with the know-how on building bigger traps, get your ass into the gym and start lifting until your neck vanishes.
Go forth bro – lift like you mean it and report back with your gains.