3 Things You Aren’t doing for Massive Traps

Written by Dana Bushell

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There are a few distinct body parts that can separate one from the masses and identify you as a bodybuilder; one of those is the trapezius muscle.

High sitting, thick elongated traps create a unique look to those who possess them and add more dimension to an already impressive silhouette.

For some, trap development comes very easily; for others not so much. If you are in the latter group and have become increasingly frustrated with your trap development or lack thereof, perhaps you may benefit from these three strategies not commonly used by those in search of massive traps.

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3 Things You Aren’t doing for Massive Traps

#1 Exaggerate the stretch

You have all probably seen this before when observing someone performing barbell or dumbbell shrugs and bouncing would be the appropriate word to describe what they are doing.

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With no regard for the eccentric portion of the rep, a swift uplifting of the shoulders quickly occurs in an “I don’t know” fashion only to be followed by similar reps until the set is complete.

Rather than taking this approach, my suggestion is to slow down and really exaggerate the stretch of the traps. It is the exact opposite movement to what the traps are designed to do for us therefore creating an excellent stimulus for hypertrophy.

#2 Emphasize the squeeze

Piggy backing onto what I just mentioned, a strong contraction at the top of the repetition is also suggested. Forcing yourself into utilizing peak contractions with the addition of using time under tension by holding the contraction for a few seconds, really drives a ton of blood into the traps yielding a tremendous pump and opportunity for growth.

I always recommend lightening up the load being used when performing shrugs in this fashion so that you can really feel the muscle working and also minimize the possibility of injury when trying to do this with maximal loads.

#3 Change load position

When most people shrug it’s either with the barbell in front of them or with the dumbbells to their sides. As you are all aware, the body is phenomenal at adapting to stimuli and then resisting any type of growth with continued perseverance of the same movements.

And for that reason, changing the position of the load being used will be of great benefit. Try shrugging with the barbell behind your back. Try sitting down on a flat bench and shrugging with the barbell underneath you and up into the bottom of the bench.

You may not be able to get a peak contraction, but keep pulling the barbell hard into the underside of the bench for a few seconds and then depress the shoulders and repeat.

Try doing dumbbell shrugs while laying chest down on an incline bench. Any of these approaches will add a new stress and stimulus to the traps which should get them growing again.


Trap work doesn’t have to be difficult; after all the only thing you have to do is shrug your shoulders and I’m sure you’ve all done that at one point or another. What trap work can be however is challenging.

Finding the right movements, with the right weight and at the perfect angles can be tedious.

And if traps aren’t already a strong point for you, the road to growth can be a long one. Add some trap work onto your back workout and also your shoulder workout to ensure they are receiving enough attention and then simply will them into growth.


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4 thoughts on “3 Things You Aren’t doing for Massive Traps”

  1. The question is Dana, Do you have huge traps? looking at your weebly you do not. Take your own advice first bro you need some trap gains

    • What a moronic comment. Dana’s traps are well developed and his advice is sound. You’re probably a frustrated pencil neck.

    • I’ve heard the motion should be a slow one emphasizing the eccentric but I have also heard rapid movement so as to facilitate blood flow is desirable. Which is true?

  2. My traps grow when I deadlift. Although direct work on them does enhance them, my bread and butter exercise is deadlifts. It’s hard not to grow them doing dead’s.

    On occasion I’ll do dumbbell or kettle bell carries with my shoulders pulled and pinned to my ears. That certainly works for a great pump and bring the vascular out. Being complimented on the veins in your traps is a great feeling.


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