Tip: Make This Exercise For Traps Even Better

Here's how to take a classic trap-building movement and make it even more effective.

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The Behind-the-Back Shrug

This exercise was a favorite of seven-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney. He used a regular barbell, but for this particular movement, the Smith machine beats the brakes off its barbell counterpart in every way.

The benefit of the Smith is that you can actually lean forward a little without having to worry about stability, then squeeze exceptionally hard at the top. With a barbell you have the bar right over your butt, which is distracting.


  1. Set the Smith bar at the bottom on the safety pins.
  2. Lean forward so that the bar clears your donk without a problem.
  3. Squeeze the entire upper back as hard as possible at the top of the movement. You can even bend slightly at the elbows to further the contraction in the upper back.

No need to go excessively heavy here. Don't try and impress everyone with 19 plates on each side while you move your head back and forth with your traps doing basically nothing. Instead, focus and squeeze hard.