Many in the weight training scene go for the big neck and monster sized traps, it shows a sign of strength, there isn’t any guy I know that would want to be referred to as a pencil neck. There are specialty exercises that you can do just for working your neck muscles, I will be covering a little on that later but for the most part I’m going to be talking about working the trap muscles.
For a long time I spent working my traps without realizing exactly what it takes to build huge traps, today I am going to share with you the secrets on how to get huge traps fast and putting your traps under tension.
Time under tension
The time under tension is referring to how long you keep your trap muscles under tension within a set. Trap muscles respond better and will grow faster as a result from putting them under stress for a longer duration, the idea on this approach is 40-50 seconds per set, but you should try to push for 50 seconds, the longer the better and then rest for 60-90 seconds between set’s.
You are typically not going to spend 50 seconds per set just shrugging. An excellent exercise to put your traps under tension would be the farmers walk and then after completing the walk finish your set off with shrugs.
Doing the farmers walk and shrugs together will give you a major burn. First you use 50% of what you would normally use for the farmers walk carrying a pair of dumbbells, you walk for 20 meters keeping your shoulders shrugged about half way with a slight bend in your elbows, after you have completed the 20 meters, do shrugs for 5 reps holding your shoulders at the top position for a count of 3 seconds.
Barbell power clean
The barbell power clean is a power move, take a look at power lifters and how big there traps are. Barbell cleans are a power lifting move that are great for adding size to your traps.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hips grasping the bar with an over hand grip shoulder width apart, in position as though you were going to do a squat, keeping your body tensed, you pull the weight up in one clean sweep to your chest. Once the barbell reaches your chest you should be in a front squat position with your knees slightly bent, elbows under the bar and palms facing up.
After you have reached that position, come to an erect stance with your legs straight, letting gravity take over, lower the barbell to the floor. When doing the barbell power cleans shoot for 5 sets of 6 reps.
Barbell push press
The barbell push press is done in the same fashion as the barbell power cleans, only with the power cleans when you reach the chest that’s as far as you go, but with the push presses once you have reached your chest with the barbell, you clean it over head using your legs for momentum, then let gravity take over when lowering the barbell to the floor.
When performing the barbell push presses, do no more than 5 sets of 6 reps. The barbell push presses are a power lifting move as well so these will work great for adding size to your traps.
Barbell shrugs are the best isolation move for developing your trap muscles. Many guys have a tendency to load up to much weight on the bar thinking the heavier the better, they’re not getting full range of motion much less being able to pull they’re shoulders as high as possible and then hold for a two count.
Grasp the barbell with a palms back grip, shoulder width apart, pull the barbell up in a shrugging motion with a continuous tension without jerking. Pull the barbell as high as possible, as though you were trying to touch your ears with your shoulders, once you have shrugged your shoulders as high as possible, hold for a count of 2 seconds, rotate your shoulders back and then lower the barbell slow and with deliberate control.
If you can’t pull the weight high enough with your shoulders and hold for a count of 2 seconds, then you are using too much weight, I would suggest dropping some weight and using a weight that is comfortable enough for you to use proper form, hold at the top position for a count of 2 and lower it slowly. You should perform this exercise for 4 sets of 10 reps.
Upright rows are another great isolation move for developing the trap muscles. Grab the barbell with a shoulder width grip, palms facing back, pull the barbell up with slow continuous tension reaching toward your chin with the bar, hold for a count of 2 seconds and return the bar to starting position.
This exercise can be alternated with dumbbells to get a slightly different range of motion. Perform this exercise for 4 sets of 10 reps.
Neck training, I am going to cover two exercises that work good for developing muscles in the neck. There is the harness strap for neck exercises and another is the wrestlers bridge. The wrestlers bridge is a great exercise for developing a large powerful neck, with this exercise you may even want to limit how often you do this exercise because it can tend to give you a large neck rather fast.
The old standard version of the wrestlers bridge I would tend to shy away from because of its putting a lot of strain on the neck tendons possibly causing neck injury, but there is a much safer variation to this exercise that I feel would be better to do and it’s still just as effective.
All you need is a bench, sit on the floor with your back to the bench, sit back resting the back of your head on the bench, raise your buttocks off the floor so that your torso is parallel to the floor and hold this position for 20-30 seconds. Do 5 sets of this exercise twice a week and if your neck is is getting a little too developed, back down to just once a week.
When developing your training program for the traps you don’t need to do all of the exercises I have put together in this article, all you need to use in one workout is three exercises of five sets each, four sets each for an intermediate with six months of training experience and three sets each for a beginner.
Traps should be trained twice a week with 72 hours of rest in between and most people either train traps with back or with shoulders, or you can mix it up and train traps with shoulders one week and then train traps with back the next week.
Always remember to train hard but train smart, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and if you need a spotter it doesn’t hurt to make plans ahead to have someone to train with. Some gyms have training coaches that you can probably get them to spot for you.
If you are new to training, a beginner or intermediate, it would probably be best to have a coach working with you to make sure that you are getting the right advice on training properly and with the power lifting exercises that I gave in this training guide, it would be best to perform these with an empty bar if you are new to them until you get experienced enough to start throwing around some weight.
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I hope that the guidelines I have given will get you off and running, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the box below.