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How to Get Muscles that Most People Neglect

Updated on February 26, 2014

If you want a completely muscular body then you can’t neglect certain muscles.

When you make sure to work your trapezius and calf muscles then your body will stay balanced and you’ll see improvements in some of your favorite lifts.

By the end of this article you’ll know how to get muscles that most people shrug off.

Are Shrugs Worth It?

If I asked you where your trapezius muscles are you might tell me that you don’t know, as you shrug your shoulders. But in reality, you just used your trapezius muscles (or traps) to lift your shoulders up into that shrug motion. Your traps are on your mid to upper back; the upper traps being most noticeable near the neck. These muscles are composed of a high density of fast twitch muscle fibers that generate explosive power.

That means that in order to really build up this muscle you’re going to have to use low reps and high weight. So the perfect exercise to target the muscle fibers in your traps would be heavy barbell shrugs.

You’ll notice as you do shoulder shrugs that your muscles fatigue very quickly, which means you don’t have a lot of time to stress your traps before they give out. That’s why you’ll want to use heavier weight, but you don’t want to overdo it. Keep your head back as you do shrugs, so that you don’t place too much stress on your neck. And draw your shoulders back as you shrug upward to really help boost the effectiveness. But you still might be wondering if this exercise is even worth it.

If you build muscle just for looks then you definitely want to build up your upper traps to help polish off that overall muscular look. Your traps really help build up your shoulders to make you look like a force to be reckoned with. Not in it for the looks? Well, your traps also have a protective nature to them. Your upper traps will help protect a nerve called the brachial plexus that runs from the spinal cord, into the shoulder and down the arms. If you had weak traps and you hit something hard with your shoulder causing your neck to suddenly bend to the side then you might end up with what they call a “stinger” or “burner”. This can cause weakness in your arms that lasts for quite a while. So build up your traps through shrugs and they’ll not only look good but they’ll protect your nerves. Want some more trap exercises?

Great Trapezius Exercises

If you like to add variety to your workouts, barbell shrugs won’t be enough for you so let’s look at a few more trap exercises. You could do upright rows to help work your traps as well as your biceps and shoulders. Upright rows can be done in a variety of ways, whether you want to use a barbell, dumbbells or a cable rack is up to you. Grab the bar or dumbbells at slightly less than shoulder width apart with your palms facing your body and stand up straight. Use your shoulders to lift the weight until it almost touches your chin. You should keep the weight close to your body as you lift and your elbows will lead the motion; your elbows should always be higher than your forearms. And make sure to keep your torso stationary during this exercise.

Another exercise you can do is shoulder shrugs with a standing calf raise machine. This really helps to isolate your trap muscles. Position yourself under the pads, as if you were going to do standing calf raises. Keep your torso straight with your arms by your sides. Raise your shoulders up toward your ears and hold for a second before you slowly return to the starting position. This is a great beginner exercise to really hit your traps.

And lastly you can do barbell shrugs behind your back. Stand up straight and hold a barbell behind your back with your palms facing backward. Your hands will be a little wider than shoulder width apart. Raise your shoulders as far up as they can go and hold the position for a second before returning to the starting position. Try your best not to lift the barbell with your biceps; keep your arms straight at all times. Now that you have a handful of exercises to help build up your traps we need to take a look at another often neglected muscle.

Don’t Forget Your Calves

Calf muscles are probably the most ignored part of the body during workouts. When you see someone with muscular calves then you know that person has taken some time to build a well-balanced body. But the problem is that there are mostly chicken-legged people walking around the gym. Most people brush off these muscles because they don’t know how to build them up, but it’s not as hard as you think. You can do standing calf exercises to help hit your gastrocnemius muscle and seated calf exercises to hit the soleus muscle. The gastrocnemius is closer to the skin and forms the two heads you’ll see when you flex your calves. The soleus is under the gastrocnemius and helps you with endurance and standing.

Most people don’t really work their calves correctly because they’re not using the full range of motion. That’s why calf machines have an elevated platform for your feet. You need to let your heels hang off this platform so that they dip down lower than the rest of your foot during the exercise and really give your calf muscles a good stretch. If you’re not using a machine then you’ll want to put your toes up on a wooden block like a 2x4 to help you implement the full range of motion. Try your best to control the movement and don’t bounce up at the top.

You need to add variety to your calf workouts too, so don’t just stick with doing calf exercises with your feet straight forward. You can target different parts of your calves to really boost overall strength. Point your toes inward while you do your calf exercises and you’ll target the outer head (lateral gastroc) of the gastrocnemius muscle. Point your toes outward while you do your calf exercises and you’ll target the inner head (medial gastroc) of the gastrocnemius muscle. By adding these exercises to your workouts you ensure that you’re building a strong body from top to bottom that will be the envy of others at the gym.

These exercises are proven to boost performance in exercises that you already love to do. When you work your trapezius and calf muscles you keep your body in harmony and it looks good too. You now know how to get muscles that most people are neglecting.

Do YOU Know How to Get Muscles I Haven't Mentioned?

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    • Bendo13 profile image

      Ben Guinter 7 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Thanks, bojanglesk8... thanks for reading!

    • bojanglesk8 profile image

      bojanglesk8 7 years ago

      Great hub.