Tip: For Big Traps, Do the Deadlift-Shrug

Build those stubborn traps. Here's how to combine trap-bar deads and shrugs into one powerful exercise.

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Want to build a thick set of traps? By combining two proven trap-building exercises into one compound movement, your entire trapezius will be shocked into growth. The upper, middle, and also those stubborn lower traps are about to get hit hard with some old school heavy loading. Do the trap bar deadlift with shrugs between pulls to hit the traps from all angles and with different types of contractions.

The Deadlift-Shrug

  1. Set up on the trap bar and deadlift the weight up.
  2. From the top position, shrug your shoulders directly up towards your ears and hold each shrug for a full second before slowly controlling down.
  3. After 3-5 shrugs, lower the trap bar. That's one rep.
  4. Go through this sequence for 5-8 total reps per set.

Shoot for some serious volume. Traps are ultra-responsive to isometric and constant tension muscular stimuli. Do these on an upper body or back-specific training day, ramping all the way up over 4-5 sets to a load that you can dominate for 3-4 total working sets with perfect rhythm and tempo.

Remember, tempo is paramount, so don't cheat the shrugs at the top or "chicken neck" your range of motion. Move as slowly as possible, keep your neck upper back in neutral, and bear the pain.

Why Does This Work?

It involves isometric, concentric, and eccentric actions of the traps, but also targets secondary musculature that plays a roll in spinal stabilization, which also increases the amount of tension that's generated from the three aspects of the trapezius muscle. Also, holding this amount of tension for 45-plus seconds skyrockets the heart rate and leaves you with a huge conditioning component on top of the direct strength and hypertrophy work.