Developed traps look AWESOME.
Train them in the fashion I’m about to illustrate and you’ll be well on your way.
This article revises and replaces a previous shrug tutorial article on this site. I now advocate a slight flexion at the elbow joint.
By the way, the form here applies to all variations of the shrug: barbell shrugs, dumbbell shrugs, cable shrugs, or trap bar shrugs.
Watch the vid first and I’ll explain all below…
- The first point before anything else is the cadence. Traps are best worked rather slowly. We’re talking 1-2 seconds on the positive and 2 or even 3 seconds on the negative.
- Feel the muscle here, not the weight. Raise and lower the weight slowly, smoothly, and under full muscular control.
- I now recommend a slight flexion at elbow joint as you perform the positive portion of the rep (raising). This will make it a little easier to get into the point of maximal contraction. I’ve been employing this method in recent months to great effect.
- Keeping a smooth motion, raise the shoulders up to the point where further elevation is impossible.
- Lower slowly and under control while at the same time extending the arms – fully straightening them.
- Make sure you lower the weight right down to the lowest point possible. It should feel like it’s “hanging” on the traps at the bottom.
You’ll note in the video that I am ensuring the weight is lowered to the lowest point on the negative, and raised to the highest point on the positive. Do the same and see some real trap growth!
Let me know how you get on 🙂
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Mark would you replace this work out with the old trap shrugs in the THT workout? How many sets? Thanks for all you do!
For shrugs, I much prefer alternate dumbells shrugs.
This gives a much better ROM. You can lift much higher when you do one side at a time.
An the other side gets a few seconds of rests which let you lift much more (heavier or more reps depending on what you want).
But for stong, massive traps nothing beats heavy deadlifts or clean shrugs!
Hi Mark, I notice that on your specialized bar, that the hand grips are wider than shoulder width. Is that preferable over shoulder width? Or is that merely circumstance? Thanks!
@Aaron. Replace the form, not the workout itself or number of sets, no.
@Adam. Up to a certain width it makes no difference anyway. Obviously if your arms were way out wide it would negatively impact the rang of motion, but that’s not the case here. Don’t worry about it, pal.
The only exercise that works effectively for me is Dumbell W presses, Palms facing your ears and press out and up making a W shape, these will put traps on anybody.
I discovered this myself when I would use my old apartment building’s gym which had dumbbells that only went up to 40 lbs. I would do very slow motion shrugs and a high number of reps and it did wonders compared to how I worked my traps before with heavier weights.
I’ve been reading your blogs for over a year now Mark, first time poster though. I have to tell you it brightens my day to receive your update emails when I wake up in the morning. A perfect way to start my day 🙂
First of all, thanks for THT. Been on it for 3 weeks now and loving it.
One question though, I could not find anything on your site for building the neck. I am a skinny guy looking to bulk, traps and neck add to the size, I think.
Thanks in advance!
Hey Mark, what is your opinion on “rolling” your shoulders during the movement?
@Dan. It’s a mistake to do so. It’s only necessary to raise and lower the shoulders. It is an attempt to involve the mid and lower trapezius, which actually doesn’t work because of the plane of the movement. Mid and lower get hit during other exercises.