Strong arms are always a basic consideration of a serious bodybuilder. However, it’s important not to underestimate the importance of balance and symmetry. Bulging biceps really only look amazing when they’re combined with well-defined triceps, strong shoulders, and killer traps as well.
When you see someone with admirable trapezius muscles, you know you’re looking at someone who wouldn’t dream of cutting corners in regards to their workouts. It’s someone you aspire to be, for sure. Of course, proper trap training is no joke, but we’re here to help. Add these five effective moves to your routine, and you’ll help refine your physique in no time.
1. Shoulder Shrugs
This move can be performed with any type of weight you like, including cables, a pair of dumbbells, or an Olympic bar. The power of the move lies in the way you do it, not the exact type of weight you use. Make sure you’re choosing an option that you can definitely handle, but that challenges you properly as well.
Start by holding your bar in your hand with your arm hanging at your side. If you’ve chosen the right weight, you should feel it pulling on your muscles, but not in a way that hurts or is uncomfortable. Now pull up on the bar using your trap muscle. Don’t use your biceps or triceps. Complete as many reps as you can on both sides.
2. Upright Dumbbell Rows
You’ll be performing this move with both arms using your go-to dumbbell. Again, select a weight that challenges you, but one that won’t force you to sacrifice good form in order to get through your reps.
Using a pronated grip, balance the dumbbells on top of your thighs and keep a soft bend in your elbows. With a straight back, lift the dumbbell up towards your chin while driving your elbows back. Engage your trap muscle while you lift the weight. Do as many reps as you can.
Be sure to use your weight carefully. Your movements should be fluid and measured. If you find yourself having to jerk the dumbbells into position, you are probably trying to lift more than you can handle. Choosing the proper weight and maintaining good form will deliver the best results.
3. High Pulls
For this move, you’ll need an Olympic bar. You’ll also want to add some weight to it—about 50% more than you would add to perform a set of upright rows. Using an overhand grip, keep your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Let the bar hang, and then bring it up and back to chest level while keeping your shoulders back.
Once the bar descends to a couple of inches above your knees, engage your traps. Use them in tandem with your legs and hips to return the bar back to your chest.
4. Cable Pulls
For this move, you’ll want to hit a vertically adjustable cable rack. Attach a rope to the lower part of the cable rack and position yourself a couple of feet from the attachment. This is the best way to get the right angle for activating those trapezii.
Grip either end of the rope attachment firmly and use a smooth movement to pull it toward your face until your hands are on either side of your head. Bring it back to starting position immediately. Repeat for as many reps as you can do and take care to keep the movement smooth, even, and constant throughout to really challenge your muscles. Again, make sure you’re choosing the heaviest weight you can handle without having to sacrifice your form.
5. Cable Pulley Shoulder Flys
This is a terrific move to finish out a hardcore back workout, so consider leaving it until the last move in your workout. As a starting position, you will begin the same way you perform a typical low-cable fly. Grasp a pulley with the opposite hand. Your lower back should be arched, and your knees comfortably bent. Your hips should be set back a bit.
Still grasping the pulley, bring your elbows in until they’re at a 45-degree angle to your shoulder joint. This is the point at which the exercise begins. Taking care to keep your arm in exactly that position, you’re going to drive your elbow up until it’s an inch or two above your shoulder. Be sure to actively squeeze your traps at the top of the move. Repeat for as many reps as you can do and then switch arms. You’ll be seeing those traps shaping up in no time!