So you want to look big hey? Your trap muscles separate the small guys from the jacked guys. In this article, I’ll show you how to build big trap muscles and look huge from every angle.
Trapezius muscles are one of the most overlooked muscles (just like your calf muscles) that make you look like you actually lift. Apart from your shoulders, your traps are going to be the one thing people notice about you when they see you for the first time. Just like your back and chest, your traps create a much fuller, properly built physique that others will die for.
Other than looking jacked, your trapezius muscles help with proper posture and optimal shoulder (scapula) retraction.
When I’m at the gym and I see guys trying to work their traps, most of the time it’s wrong. The idea is there but the technique needs some work. Today I’m going to show you 5 ways to build huge traps.
Dumbbell shrugs are the bread and butter of building those gigantic traps, you might as well get good at the exercise. There’s tons of physical cues you can use when you’re working out, to get a better mind-muscle connection. The one I use for dumbbell shrugs is moving your shoulders inwards. As you bring the dumbbells up, visualize moving your shoulders toward each other.
Make sure to really squeeze your traps on the way up and down. Don’t rush these, take your time with a slow and controlled approach.
Smith Machine Shrugs
I see a lot of dislike for the smith machine but just like Justin Bieber, it’s cool to hate. The smith machine will allow you to overload the weight and just focus on the complete stretch of your back muscles. You can get a real nasty pump with the smith machine because you’ll spend less time stabilizing yourself and more time actually moving the weight.
Just like dumbbell shrugs, visualize moving your shoulders towards each other. When you’re at the top of the movement, squeeze your traps for a few seconds before you lower the weight!
This will help you with a mind-muscle connection, allowing you to feel the weight instead of simply just moving it.
Since this is a machine exercise, experiment with different hand placements to find what works for you best. You may feel most comfortable with an underhand grip instead or perhaps a closer grip. Find what works for you and incorporate that into other exercises.
Rear deltoid muscles and traps are one of the few muscles most guys forget to work directly. Sure if you’re doing back work you’re going to hit your traps and your rear delts, but there’s better ways of building muscle. This is where cable face pulls come in.
To complete the exercise flawlessly, you’ll want to finish face pulls in a front double bicep position. Why? Because if you half-ass it you’re going to get half-ass results; it’s that simple.
You’ll go through the full range of motion when the inside of your arms are facing outwards. Most people stop short of the exercise and stop pulling back when the ends of the rope are at their ears. You’re not getting optimal growth if you only do half-reps, so don’t sell yourself short. Really focus on opening up your shoulders and having the inside of your biceps facing the wall.
Concentrate on the squeeze as you pull the rope towards your face. You’ll want to do high reps with face pulls, so lower the weight and pull away!
As a general guide, you will want to hit face pulls in the rep range between 15-20 to get a full pump.
Since face pulls also hit your rear deltoid muscles, it’s an excellent exercise to grow your rear delts. For the best results, check out my other article on the Best Rear Delt Exercises.
(If you don’t smile, you lose 90% of your gains)
Upright rows are great because the equipment can vary so much. Kettlebell? Sure! Barbell? Sure, why not! Using different mediums of weights make the exercise much more exciting, and you would be more inclined to continue doing the exercise.
What you’ll want to do is go all the way up with the weight. Lift the weight to around nipple height, focussing on the squeeze of your traps on the way up. Remember not to yank the weight on the way up, this will aggravate those with shoulder mobility issues. Remember, slow and controlled. This is a fantastic exercise as well since you’ll also hit your front delts. We want to build big traps, so the technique is paramount for continued success.
If you want to try something different, use a single arm at a time for rowing. If you’re using dumbbells, keep one dumbbell at your side while the other one rows.
You’re probably going to have to lower the weight on this one, but that’s okay! Get those reps up and keep the pump going.
These are a fantastic workout finisher because you can really burn out on these. I love hitting reverse flys on chest and back days. If you’re a fancy gym boy, you might have a pec deck machine that can be converted into reverse flys. If you’re still living in the stone age and your gym resembles a primitive mud hut, thank goodness there’s benches and dumbbells.
Again, don’t simply throw the weight around. If your chest is supported on a bench, imagine moving the back of your shoulders toward each other.
Just like face pulls, complete this exercise with high reps. If you want more of a challenge, shorten your rest periods and superset with one of the other exercises in this article.
What I like to do is do reverse fly drop sets. Start with a weight you can do and do it for 40 reps. Yes you read that right, 40 reps. I bet you you’ll really feel the burn. Take a short rest, cut the weight in half and do 20 reps. We’re not done yet! Lower the weight slightly and crank out 10 reps.
With these exercises you will be ready to hit the gym and sculpt those traps of yours. Your back and traps work in unison, so don’t neglect hitting your back with intensity. If you’re having issues growing your back, check out my other article on Yates Rows.