The Case Against Trap Training

Instead of doing this, you can use different movements that utilize each major function of the traps and therefore completely attack the muscle by training it with respect to its anatomy.

How Real Trap Training Looks Like

It’s a fact that traps respond great to super-heavy, short ROM work, mainly because they rarely get placed under direct heavy load in daily life. In other words, how often do you find yourself having to stimulate a weighted shrug in normal everyday situations?

That’s right – never, as opposed to movements such as deadlifts which are commonly used around the home, during outdoor activities, and especially if you have a physically demanding job. This makes heavy work in short ranges of motion a kind of unique stimulus for your traps that can trigger significant muscle growth in a short period of time. Here are a few highly effective exercises for complete trap development that you can easily incorporate into your current back and shoulder routine.

#1. Face Pull With Pause

To ensure optimal health of your scapula-thoracic joint, which is an important requirement for size training, you should also focus on exercises which improve the ability of the middle and lower trap fibers to stabilize the scapulae. For this goal, train your lower traps with face pulls, making sure to use paused reps and longer contractions.

To get best results, hold the peak contraction for 3-5 seconds. Also, make sure to set the cable at eye-lever or slightly higher as this will minimize upper trap involvement. During the next three to four weeks, start each back and shoulder workout with 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps of face pulls and you should see big improvements in static strength, endurance and stability.

#2. Power Clean From Hang

By working from the hang, the upper body gets more engagement and the traps work overtime to explode the weight up and also to complete the catch.

Start with the bar literally touching your knee-caps and your hips positioned high enough so that your knee angle is very shallow. Your weight should be on your heels. Remember, this position isn’t supposed to feel comfortable, so if it seems too easy, you’re probably doing it wrong. Also, make sure to squeeze your lats as tight as you possibly can. Finally, you want to get your shoulders backwards and behind the bar before you jump it above your head – if you don’t the bar will end up having a more horizontal trajectory rather than the desired vertical one.

#3. Snatch-Grip High Pull

This powerful Olympic lift variation is literally a movement you can’t afford not to do because it effectively hits the mid-back, rhombs, rear delts, traps and builds the entire posterior chain as well. You can think of it as an upright row that’s been upgraded in every possible way.

Use a wide snatch grip to yank the bar and keep it close to your body, making sure that your elbows are higher than the bar and angled at 45 degrees. Remember, the movement should be directly vertical with a focus on extending the body upward, although it should also be leaned back slightly in order to maintain balance. Keep the bar in immediate proximity to the body and focus on lifting the elbows rather than the bar. And perform the movement as explosively as you possibly can!

#4. Kroc Rows

Kroc rows are basically ridiculously heavy, high-rep dumbbell rows that will murder your entire back and shoulder area, as well as completely exhaust your forearms. When done correctly, this underutilized exercise can help you build strength that transfers very well to your deadlift lockout and also increase your upper back size like nothing else. To reap these gains, focus on working up to a volume and weight that can challenge you to push beyond your limits. On each rep, allow your lats to stretch out completely at the bottom part of the movement and while at the top, force your shoulder blades together and aim to achieve a good quality contraction.

Never forget that knowledge is power. And in the world of bodybuilding, the guys who understand the anatomy and biomechanics of the human body and adjust their training accordingly are the same ones who ultimately manage to achieve true greatness.

Good luck!

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