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How To Build Big Traps

Updated on August 5, 2017
Grant's World profile image

A fellow human who loves his planet and beyond, with interests that match and never end. One life. One love. Appreciate everything.

Bigger Traps equals BIGGER Backs

Let's Get Started on How To Build Big Thick Trap Muscles

If you want to look big strong and intimidating you have to get your traps growing now. Nothing says POWER more so than well developed big strong Traps.

Large traps are a true sign of herculean power and strength. Power lifters have huge trapezius muscles because of the types of lifts they perform and there is no one more powerful than a strongman or power lifter.

Developing your trapezius can really make a big difference in your appearance. Men will be envious and women will be curious.

Ever notice that super heroes always have large trap muscles, The Hulk for one. Lou Ferrigno the actor who played the Hulk in the TV series had huge traps.

I am going to tell you how to make that happen. To get maximum development you have to do more than just shrug a barbell or dumbbell. You will also want to focus on your shoulders because they will accentuate the size of your trapezius.

Here is a video showing where your Trapezius muscle is located

Before You Get Started You Should Know This about the Trapezius

To get maximum development as quickly as possible you will want to train these muscles at minimum every 3 or 4 days in one way or another. You will be training them directly and indirectly and I will show you how to do both.

The function of the Trapezius muscles are to move your shoulder blades inwards toward your spine. They move your shoulder blades up and down.

Shrugging is done using your traps. They also bring your head & neck in the backwards direction and rotate your head from side to side.

The angles of the Trapezius muscles provide pulling motion in three different directions which are up, down and in towards your spine.

If you look at an Anatomy chart you will see that the traps begin around the center of your back on your spine and run up to just under the base of your skull and then outwards to your shoulder muscles.

I find that different weightlifting exercises affect different areas of the trap muscles so I am going to give you what I believe to be all the exercises you need to make sure you train all of this very important and impressive muscle so you get results fast.

The Barbell Shrug

The barbell shrug is a great movement because you can add a lot of weight to really get your traps working hard.

Because of your hand placement the bb shrug works more of your upper middle traps. The area that is below tour skull and just to the side of your neck and a little bit on the area that shoots out to your shoulders.

For this exercise you will want to do one warm up set and three work sets.

So for your first set you will use a weight that you can perform 12 to 18 repetitions with. You’re second third and forth sets you will progressively add weight each set and make sure you do at least 8 reps and no more than 12.

If you do more than 12 then the weight is too light for a work set.

To perform this exercise, load your barbell and grab the bar while standing with a slightly wider than shoulder grip with your palms facing your body and the bar against your thighs.

Now without bending your elbows shrug your shoulders upwards as high as you can go.

Try to touch your shoulders to your ears. At the top position hold for a second and squeeze your trap muscles, now slowly lower the barbell in a controlled manner back to the starting position. That was one repetition.

How To Perform the Barbell Shrug

How to Perform The Dumbbell Shrug

The dumbbell shrug is very similar to the barbell shrug except you hold the dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing the side of your body.

Because of hand placement this exercise will put more stress on the area between your neck and your shoulders.

Do the same rep and set scheme as with barbell shrugs. One warm up set and three work sets 12 to 18 reps for the warm up set and 8 to 12 reps for the work sets.

For this exercise and the barbell shrugs when shrugging the weights upwards remember not to bend your elbows and do not roll your shoulders.

I see some people that will shrug the weight up and then roll the weight back and down.

There is no proven evidence as far as I know that states that this rolling will benefit you. If anything in my opinion I think you can injure your shoulders doing this.

How to perform the Dumbbell Shrug

How To Thicken Your Upper Middle Back and Traps With Behind The Back Shrugs

This is a great exercise if you really want to thicken the middle of your upper back in behind your neck. This area is the middle of your traps and gets missed by a lot of weight lifters and bodybuilders. This is a simple exercise and will pay off huge in the muscle department. Let's get started.

  1. You can use a smith machine or a squat rack using the safety bars.
  2. Using a moderate weight back up to a barbell grabbing the barbell at about shoulder width.
  3. slowly shrug the bar upward up over your butt as high as you can go comfortably.
  4. lower the weight and repeat.
  5. When you have the weight shrugged up as high as you can go hold it for a second squeezing your traps upwards and together if possible. You should feel your traps filling with blood quite easily with this exercise.
  6. Perform a few sets with moderate repetitions.
  7. I don't like the idea of using really heavy weight with this exercise as your elbows don't appear to be in a normal path of motion to me. You judge for yourself.

How To Perform Behind the Back Barbell Shrugs

This is How You Perform Proper Deadlifts

This exercise is performed by people who really want to get the most out of their work out sessions.

Deadlifts affect your body in a way that when performing these on a regular basis you will have more overall strength and power than people that do not do them.

Deadlifts will help to develop your Trapezius however work other areas of your body.

They work your thighs, lower back upper back, core area and many stabilizing muscles. This is truly an exercise for people that really want to be in great shape and super strong.

One more thing they do is really help to improve your cardio because when doing these exercises they really do tax your cardio respiratory system.

If you have ever done them you will know what I am talking about. When I do these, right after my set I am breathing like I just finished sprinting I am gasping for air.

How to Perform the Deadlift Properly

Look at the Traps on Lou Ferrigno

Look at the traps on Lou Ferrigno. Hard to get past those massive arms but his traps are huge.
Look at the traps on Lou Ferrigno. Hard to get past those massive arms but his traps are huge.
HUGE traps
HUGE traps
As you can see by this picture that your Trapezius cover a large portion or your back. By developing the Traps you increase the musculature of your back greatly.
As you can see by this picture that your Trapezius cover a large portion or your back. By developing the Traps you increase the musculature of your back greatly.

Shoulders and final instructions

I mentioned earlier about training your shoulders to show off your traps.

If you don’t train all three heads of the shoulder muscles your shoulders will actually start looking rounded once your traps start to grow but if you train your shoulders your traps will look bigger and thicker than they really are.

There are other exercises you can do to build your traps but the basic barbell and dumbbell shrugs are actually great movements and with the deadlift added your neck will get think and strong in no time.

For training frequency I actually do deadlifts with my back workout and no direct trap work and then on my shoulder workout I do traps.

So about every 3 days my traps are getting worked whether it is deadlift day or trap day.

You can follow that method to see if it works for you or a good place to start would be to train your traps every 3 or 4 days with the shrugs and light deadlifts until you are shrugging so much weight that training deadlifts the same day is just too much.

Then you can also split them up. I hope I have helped and I really hope you get the massive traps you want. Good luck.


Deadlifts continued

To perform this exercise have your barbell on the ground and center yourself in front of the bar with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend down at the knees and grab the bar so that your forearms are on the outside of your thighs but not too far out.

While grabbing the bar you want to have your back in as straight a position as you can. Do not let your back round and don’t lean to far back. Keep your shoulders pulled back and if you can tighten your abs. now squeeze your glutes and you are ready to blast off.

Pushing with your feet using your legs power the weight up as you stand up. Your legs should do most of the work until you are about ¾ of the way up and then your back will kick in.

If you find that your lower back was really working while performing the exercise then your back was probably rounded which is not how you want your back when doing this movement.

So make sure shoulders are pulled back and back is as straight a position as can be. With practice you will master this exercise. At first you might not enjoy it but once you master the movement and start lifting extremely heavy weight and see the results in the mirror you will really enjoy doing this one.



Submit a Comment

  • Grant's World profile image

    Grant Handford 5 years ago from Canada

    meanandlean thank you. This is one of my favourite hubs that I have created.


  • meanandlean profile image

    meanandlean 5 years ago from South Korea

    wow. Great Information. Keep it Up :))

  • MosLadder profile image

    Chris Montgomery 6 years ago from Irvine, CA

    Cool hub! Shrugs are an awesome exercise for your traps, I like upright rows, too; hits the anterior deltoids and traps at the same time. Voted up.

  • Grant's World profile image

    Grant Handford 6 years ago from Canada

    Spark glad I could help.

    Thomas I hope you come back and can learn something new.

    Hi Spencer thanks very much, glad I could help you out.

  • Spencer Camus profile image

    Spencer Camus 6 years ago from United Kingdom

    I've read a couple of informative hubs on building muscles recently. Not seen one on this specific topic though - very informative, and is an area of my body I want to develop...and I can, now!

    Nice one.

  • Thomas Amshay profile image

    Thomas Amshay 6 years ago

    Been at this a while, but never stop reading and learning. Always a pleasure to find something succint and usable. Have to run, but will come back and read more of your stuff. Thanks for taking time to put it together.

  • profile image

    Spark 6 years ago

    G, Thank you, Now I know why my traps didn't grow. I'm going to direct your direction.

  • Grant's World profile image

    Grant Handford 7 years ago from Canada

    Theo thanks very much.

    I am also a fan of deadlifts power cleans and any big moves like that.



  • Theo Burggraaff profile image

    Theo Burggraaff 7 years ago from Kuta, Bali

    Informative article.. I always preferred good old deadlifts and power cleans.. ;)

  • Grant's World profile image

    Grant Handford 7 years ago from Canada

    Hi fundamentallife I have had good luck over the years with my traps because of doing deadlifts and direct trap work a couple days apart. Works for me but we all have to find what works for ourselves.

    Thanks for the kind words AJ.



  • fundamentallife profile image

    fundamentallife 7 years ago

    The traps are one of those muscles which never grew for me! I don't 'bodybuild' much nowadays as cardio seems to be more of a neccesity, but I'm going to give your tips a shot anyhow.

    Great work Grant, thanks for the hub.


  • Grant's World profile image

    Grant Handford 7 years ago from Canada

    TheManWithNoPants thanks bro I appreciate it. I have been in the iron game for years and I understand what you are saying. Some people just don't get it.

    Thanks for commenting.


  • TheManWithNoPants profile image

    TheManWithNoPants 7 years ago from Tucson, Az.

    Great hub dude! A lot of people in the gym don't get the connection between traps and shoulders, but you do. By the way, thanks for following my stuff!

  • Grant's World profile image

    Grant Handford 7 years ago from Canada

    Thanks TnFlash much appreciated. Glad you enjoyed it.

  • TnFlash profile image

    TnFlash 7 years ago from Tampa, Florida

    Great Hub! I've done weight lifting off and on for a bunch of years. This is a very good article on building traps. Voted up and useful

  • Grant's World profile image

    Grant Handford 7 years ago from Canada

    Thanks Steveo much appreciated. I think weight lifting is great for anyone any age or shape they are in. But if it is going to kill you then please don't attempt it ha-ha.

    Thanks for commenting.

  • SteveoMc profile image

    SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

    I am so far past body building that any of these lifts would be deadlifts for me. If I tried em I'd be dead! Seriously, this is a very well put together hub and it is incredibly informative. Wonderful easy to follow directions and great demo videos.