When it comes to building big traps, it starts with making sure you’re not forgetting to train two thirds of the muscle you’re trying to grow. In this video, I’m going to show you a huge trap workout mistake that many people make, and it winds up costing them the overall size and development of their trapezius muscles.
The first thing you want to do is make sure you understand what the traps muscle actually encompasses before you start training it. Because the muscle is essentially divided into three zones, due to fiber orientation changes along the belly of the muscle, you realize that a straight up and down shrug is not enough to hit the entire muscle optimally.
The traps are comprised of an upper, middle and lower portion. These are aptly named because of the orientation of the muscle fibers of the muscle belly within each of these zones. Since we always say here on this channel how important it is to follow the fibers when you are trying to optimally train a muscle, you want to be sure you have exercises and strategies in place for doing this in your traps training.
Since the upper traps are often times targeted with shrugs, most people who lift do not need to get any additional coaching on what exercises to do to hit this area. For those that do however, be sure to watch our traps workout videos here on this channel for more science based exercise options for how to do this properly. The important thing to note however, is that overdevelopment of the upper portion of the traps at the expense of the middle and lower will create muscle imbalances that feed into shoulder dysfunction and faulty posture over time.
This is something you definitely want to avoid. For this reason, many times I will not directly program exercises for the upper traps specifically into my programs. I know full well that performing the heavy compound lifts like the deadlift, row and carry are an incredible way to build bigger thicker upper traps without having to add in specialty exercises on top.
That said, you can perform these big compound moves and still be lacking development in the other two thirds of the muscle. So, when you want to effectively target the middle fibers of the traps you should really look into performing the wrap around row exercise shown here. This should be done with the elbows bent to minimize the action of the rear delt and make the scapular retraction come primarily from the middle trap fibers.
Likewise, if you don’t focus on specifically trying to target the lower traps then you are likely to have weak or undeveloped muscles in this area. The prone dumbbell press is a great exercise option for hitting this area. The key here is not to focus on the amount of weight that you are lifting. Instead, focus on the quality of each contraction. These lower trap fibers are usually very underdeveloped and need your improved mind muscle connection in order to flourish.
Keep the weights low but the tension high and you will find that your overhead pressing mechanics will improve as well as your shoulder safety as this gets stronger.
If you are short on time and want to use one exercise that you already should be doing already, then you have the option of the face pull press modification. This is an absolutely tremendous way to train your traps without having to add in many additional sets of separate exercises. Perform the face pull as you normally would and then add the additional overhead press to engage the lower traps. The act of pulling back on the cable or band alone is enough to fire up the middle and upper traps into the exercise.
For a complete step by step program that guides you through every workout with the same science applied to exercise selection as in this video, head to the link below and start training like an athlete with the ATHLEAN-X Training Systems.
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