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Massive Traps – 6 Exercises Must Do

Tom Hardy is actually a great example of how having huge traps can make you look extremely muscular, even if your other muscle groups aren’t that big.

After all when you’re looking at someone, you’re mainly looking at their face. And with your traps only located a few inches away, it’s a great opportunity to show off your muscularity.

Also not many weight lifters, or even PRO bodybuilders, have GREAT traps (with 90% of them always training chest and arms). So if you do develop monster traps, you’ll really stand out from the crowd.

Traps are actually quite an intimidating muscle group too, as they resemble the same shape of a cobra when it spreads its ‘hood’ – done as a defence mechanism. This can be translated as a polite “Don’t f*ck with me”.

Big traps will make you look ready to pounce on any prey that gets in your way.


During a deadlift, the hips and legs work to lift the bar from the ground. The trapezius muscles (along with other muscles in the back) contract isometrically to keep a straight back. The traps also help you keep your chest up, which is critical to completing the deadlift.

Rack pull shrug

To perform this exercise set the safety pins in the squat rack at knee level. Load the bar with HEAVY weight, 100-120% of your deadlift 1RM. If grip strength is an issue, strap up for this exercise. Try to emulate your deadlift position as closely as you can. Pull the bar up to lockout and then shrug the weight, all in one motion. This will work the traps both isometrically during the rack pull and concentrically during the shrug.

Dumbbell Shrug

I prefer the dumbbell shrug to the barbell shrug, but let’s face it. Most gyms do not have heavy enough dumbbells that allow for us to do the dumbbell variation. This variation of the shrug allows you to get a more natural raise with the traps and definitely puts more tension on the traps.

Face Pull

Whether you perform the face pull on a low pulley, a high pulley or a mid-level pulley, face pulls need to be a routine part of your trap training. These days I focus on the high pulley and the pulley directly in the middle with the latter getting a lot of reps as of late. Stand a couple of feet from the attachment in order to get the optimal angle for trapezius recruitment.

Bent over lateral raises

Stand or sit on a bench, with your knees slightly bent, and hold a suitable weight

dumbbell in each hand. If you are performing standing bent over lateral raises, make sure that your upper body and the torso are almost perpendicular to each other.
The palms of your hands should be facing your body.
Extend your arms laterally on both the sides consecutively, inhaling deeply as you lift the weights with your elbows up. Ideally, the elbows should be at the shoulder height level for an efficient workout.


Take a look at any accomplished Olympic lifter and you will see the effects the clean has on the traps. The clean works the traps in a couple different ways; during the first pull you want a tight upper back. This is accomplished by squeezing your scapulae together. Scapular retraction is a great lower/mid-trapezius exercise. In addition, during the second pull of the clean, a shrug motion is performed completing your full extension, working the upper part of the trapezius muscle. If cleans are not something you want to take the time to learn, start by doing high pulls.