Build Traps Like Mountains with this Workout

Generation Iron Exercise Guide Traps

Workout for Building Monstrous Traps

While abs are considered aesthetic, a sign of being a true mass monster are the trapezius muscles, traps for short. Sure, big legs, big arms, and a barrel chest are impressive, but massive traps are something that really make you appear larger. The traps are a big part of the body, much bigger than you may think, and that is why they are so important to your appearance. How can you build big traps?

So sit back, drink your pre-workout, and let’s dive into all things trapezius related.

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Where and What are the Traps?

The trapezius muscle is a lot larger than you think. The traps actually extend longitudinally from the occipital bone to the lower thoracic vertebrae of the spine and laterally to the spine of the scapula. It helps in not only stabilizing, but also moving the scapula and supports the arm.

The upper fibers can elevate and upwardly rotate the scapula and extend the neck. The middle fibers adduct (retract) the scapula.

Traps are not Accessories

Although the trapezius muscles take up a lot of real estate on your back and shoulders, most people treat them like accessory muscles. Well developed traps not make your shoulders look bigger, but also your back. They can add the illusion of broad shoulders and a narrow waist to your physique, as larger traps can add some serious thickness to your back and shoulders overall.

Building Big Traps

Now that we have established exactly what the traps are, how can you build them bigger? The deadlift can actually help build bigger traps, however it does not isolate them. Isolating a muscle group really helps forcing it to grow.

So, let’s tale a look at some exercises to isolate the traps and blow them up.

Exercise 1

Upright Row to Shoulder Press – 3 Sets 15-12-10 Reps

Since the traps are a relatively small muscle group compared to something like legs, most people prefer training them with their shoulder or back. Since this article is all about building giant traps, we’ll focus on the trapezius muscle rather than the other shoulder heads.

In upright rows to shoulder press, hold the barbell with a shoulder-wide grip and let the bar rest against your quads. Pull the barbell up to your shoulders, rotate your wrists and get into the military press position. Complete a military press and slowly return to the starting position.

Exercise 2 – Superset

Face Pulls – 3 Sets 15-12-10 Reps

Trap Raises – 3 Sets 15-12-10 Reps

You may incorporate face pulls with the idea of rear delts, but they also hit the trapezius muscles. Adjust the cable pulley height to your shoulder level and use a rope attachment. At the contraction point, your hands should be close to your shoulders and you should focus on flexing your shoulder blades.

For the trap raises, lie chest-down on an incline bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Retract your traps and raise your arms without bending your elbows so that your arms are parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat with a strict form.

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Exercise 3

Dumbbell Shrugs – 3 Sets 20-15-12 Reps

An absolute classic of a movement. Shrugs are a staple in a workout where you want to hit and build your traps; they are simple and effective. Although shrugs are one of the easiest exercises to perform, most people screw them up by bringing in their inflated egos and lifting weights which are too heavy for them.

Grab a dumbbell in each hand and place them at the side of your quads. Lift your shoulders with a slight bend in your elbows and try touching your ears with them. Hold and contract your traps at the top of the movement.

Exercise 4

Barbell High Pulls – 3 Sets 15 Reps

Barbell high pulls are a variation of the upright rows. Hold the barbell with an overhand grip right outside the shoulder width mark. You could perform the rack-pull version of this exercise, where the bar rests on the safety bars of a rack, or let the bar hang in front of your quads.

The barbell high pulls are an explosive movement as compared to the upright rows. Perform an explosive upright row to lift the weights as high as you can and get on your toes as the barbell reached the top of the movement. Let gravity do its magic on the way down and don’t try to control the bar.

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Exercise 5 – Superset

Front Smith Machine Shrugs – 3 Sets 20-15-12 Reps

Behind the Back Smith Machine Shrugs – 3 Sets 20-15-12 Reps

Performing the front shrugs on the smith machine engages the anterior traps, and behind the back version engage the posterior traps while the dumbbell shrugs focus on the medial trapezius muscles.

Using the smith machine also adds constant tension to your traps as it is an isolation exercise. You could use a shrugs machine if you have access to it at your gym or use the shoulder press machine if your gym doesn’t have a shrug or smith machine.

Trapezius Wrap Up

Overall, the trapezius muscles are a group that are far often overlooked. They can bring a lot of value to your physique overall, so there is no need to leave then out of your workout routines. The trapezius muscles are a group that can make your physique appear larger.

These are some of our favorite exercises to help build up those traps.

Which is your favorite traps exercise? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook and Twitter.

*Header image courtesy of Envato Elements.

Vidur Saini
Vidur is a fitness junky who likes staying up to date with the fitness industry and loves publishing his opinions for everyone to see. Subscribe to his YouTube Channel.