Compared to your arms and chest, you probably don't pay as much attention to your traps. The traps, also known as the trapezil muscles, are large, triangle-shaped muscles on your upper back that can really give you a streamlined, V-shape torso. Also, having great traps will help you squat better, providing more support to rest the bar across instead of stressing your spine. Here are five moves to build your traps.
Photo credit: Men's Health
Shrugs are absolutely key to building huge traps. If you find yourself with persistent shoulder issues, then using dumbbells for your shrugs are a far better option that barbells, as your shoulders don't have to rotate to lift the bar. Stand with your feet shoulders width apart, dumbbells in each hand, and shrug as if you're trying to get your shoulders to come in contact with your ears. Once you reach your maximum, hold still for a second before slowly lowering.
Photo credit: Muscle and Fitness
These are more advanced, and more effective than your dumbbell shrugs. It really attacks the peak of your traps, helping them attain bulk to form thicker, stronger and more rounded muscles. Hold a barbell with your arms and legs standing shoulder's-width apart. Use an overhand grip to hold the barbell stable. Keeping your back arched, lean forward at the hips a little, and bend your knees slightly. Begin to shrug, pause, then return to start and repeat.
SINGLE ARM DUMBBELL UPRIGHT ROWS
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Working both your traps and your shoulders, the single arm dumbbell upright rows is an effective killer. Stand up straight and have your arm extended in front of you with a slight bend. Your dumbbell should be seated on the top of your thighs. Keep your other arm hanging loose by your side. As you exhale, lift the dumbbell, keeping it as close to your body as possible. Imagine you're a puppet and there's someone tugging on the string by your elbow. Lift until the dumbbell is nearly in line with your chin, never letting your elbow to drop below your forearm. Pause, then lower the dumbbell. Always ensure to keep the weights for this exercise moderate, as using a weight too heavy will compromise your form.
BENT OVER LATERAL RAISES
Photo credit: Muscle and Performance
This can either be done on an inclined bench, or while standing up. Keep a dumbbell in each hand, and stand with your back arched, and torso leaning forward. Don't lock your knees. With a dumbbell in each hand, held with your palms facing your upper body, begin to raise your arms until they're almost parallel to the ground. Be sure to squeeze your shoulder blades, before lowering them and starting again.
BARBELL BEHIND-THE-BACK SHURGS
Photo credit: Gym Inspiration
More shrugs? Yes. There are so many varieties, and all of them do wonders for your traps by working them differently. This one's a little more challenging, but they're the winner if you're looking to boost your upper trap muscles. Hold the barbell behind your body, just below your buttocks with an overhand grip. Stand with your legs shoulders width apart, and begin to shrug. Do not jut your head out, or look down, as this can cause unnecessary strain. Shrug, pause, lower and repeat.
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