Nothing says power like a big set of traps and a thick neck. Think about it. When you’re out somewhere and you see a guy with massive traps and huge neck you automatically know he’s the last guy in the joint that you’d ever want to mess with. Maybe he’s an ex wrestler. Maybe he competes in MMA. Or maybe he played football. You don’t know but you definitely don’t want to find out.
No other muscle groups instill fear in and command respect from all those around you like the traps and neck do.
Plenty of pumped up pretty boys walk around with decent sized arms weighing all of 169 pounds. An equal amount of guys have built up a pretty good sized chest since it’s the only muscle they ever train. But big arms and a big set of pecs do nothing to command respect. In fact, if all you have going for you are big arms you are more likely to get laughed at then be looked at in fear.
“Look at the pencil neck pretty boy showing off his guns.”
If you really want to look powerful, athletic and intimidating you need to develop the traps and neck aka “the yoke.”
When it comes to achieving the power look the first exercise you need to be concerned with is the deadlift. The deadlift packs size on the traps like nothing else. You are going to want to deadlift at least once per week for 1-3 sets of 3-12 reps. Be sure to use the heaviest weights you can handle with good form and don’t be afraid to use straps if your grip is weak.
Next on the list come Olympic lifting variations such as hang cleans, power cleans, high pulls, and shrug pulls. These Olympic lifts build up huge traps and can be done more frequently than deadlifts. If you are really trying to build up the traps rapidly I recommend that you do some sort of Olympic lift variation at least once per week, if not three times for 3-5 sets of 1-6 reps.
Another great trap building exercise is the shrug. Shrugs can be done with barbells or dumbbells and with heavy weight for low reps and a partial range of motion or lighter reps for high reps with a full range of motion. I recommend that you use both approaches for full trap development once or twice a week after your deadlifts or Olympic lifts.
With the traps taken care of you need to move on to your neck. You simply can’t beat an old school neck harness with a plate attached to it for neck development. Other great neck exercises are manual resistance flexion and extension exercises with a partner or isometric supports against a stability ball. To do the partner resisted exercises simply lie down on a flat bench with your head hanging off and have a partner drape a towel over your head and provide resistance as you move up and down. Be sure not to use extreme ranges of motion on neck work or you could put yourself at risk for injury.
The neck should be trained two or three days per week for 1-3 sets of 10-25 reps. Personally I like to train flexion one day, extension another day and rotation or lateral flexion on the third day.
Stick with the yoke building plan for the next eight weeks and get ready for guys to start stepping aside when they see you coming.
Ever since I first discussed the importance of “the power look” and how important it is to earn respect and separate you from the pencil neck, I am repeatedly asked about how to build big traps. The best trap building exercise in existence is the deadlift. One need look no further than the massive trap development of elite powerfliters to see how effective this exercise is at building these intimidating muscles. But pussyfooting around with light weights will never get the job done. You need to deadlift heavy weights (with picture perfect form) for sets of 3-10 reps. A good goal for most lifters is to be able to pull double bodyweight for five reps. If you want traps like Brock Lesnar aim for 2.5 times your bodyweight for a set of five. Deadlifts should be performed once a week for 1-3 sets of 5-10 reps.
Any discussion about how to build big traps would not be complete without discussing the Olympic lifts and their various pull variations. Utilizing Olympic lifts and their pull variations such as snatches, cleans, high pulls and clean pulls are another great way to build huge traps. A great advanced trap building routine involves working from the top down and combining Olympic pulls and deadlifts into one workout. Below is an advanced workout that will build enormous traps on just about anyone.
- Hang Clean (video) - 4 x 3-5 x 90sec rest
- High Pull (video) l- 3 x 5-6 x 60sec
- Deadlift (video) – 1 x 6-8, 1 x 10-12 x 120sec
- Neck Extensions with Harness (video) - 2-3 x 12-20 x 90sec
Finish up the workout with some calves, abs and grip work. Do this workout once per week and do no other back work, besides a few sets of chin ups one other day per week. Follow this program for 4-6 weeks and add weight as often as you can, as long as you maintain perfect form.
If you can’t deadlift perfectly from the floor with pristine technique, it is recommended to pull from rubber mats, blocks or pins in order to prevent lower back injuries.
Now you know how to build big traps. So go get after it.
PS. If you want even more routines for the traps and every other body part, check out Muscle Gaining Secrets now. Summer is HERE. Don’t waste time…
You want to build huge traps and neck? Do Deadlifts.
Hang Cleans build strong, aggresive, big boy traps
High Pulls are an excellent dymanic movement to develop strong, big, and scary looking traps
|Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to help people build muscle as fast as humanly possible. He is the head training adviser for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more How to Build Muscle Fast tips, check out Muscle Gaining Secrets|
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