Written by Brandon Lilly
Do you wanna be brotastic? Of course we all do. So what besides a big set of “guns” can ensure you the most bro love? Big traps. I’m not talking about little bumps that stick up enough to equal that of pubescent girl needing a training bra. I’m talking about some “Pam Anderson’s”. Traps so big it makes a full head turn difficult. So how do we go about this? It’s not what you think…
I get a pretty fair amount of love for my traps, actually the second most common question I get is “Hey bro, how’d you get those traps?” Obviously the first is “Hey bro what’s your overhead press?” I think they mean to ask about my bench but they always do an overhead pressing movement, and then tell me about their nephew that did 600 lbs. in high school, this is even more impressive because I also assume they are still talking about an overhead press. Welcome to my world. In reality when I started training the only physical gifts I had were good hair, and dimples, thanks to powerlifting I just have “A” dimple. One. This means I packed on some serious weight, over 140 lbs. in 13 years (sorry to disappoint that your AnabolicExtremeMooJuice 5000 won’t give you the same results in 3 months), but how did I do that? And, I thought we were talking about traps. We are.
The trapezius muscle is comprised of three sections, the upper (on the back of the neck), middle (the “show” muscles the sit on top of the shoulders), and the lower (these run all the way down to the middle of the back). Most people think of the middle portion, and that is all they train. Shrugs, shrugs, shrugs, and more shrugs. Even then people make the mistake of piling loads of weight on the bar, and herking, and jerking the weights like a seizing epileptic, and having a better chance of lengthening the bones in your arms from the hanging weight than building big traps. This is why you need a solid approach. One that is “Bro Approved”.
- Deadlift- This is the only “trap work” I did for 10 years. I look at other people with big traps, and usually if they have a big deadlift they have some serious trapezius muscles to show for it. No other lift will work your entire back, including all three areas of the trapezius like the deadlift. Vary your intensities, do low rep pulls, moderate, and high rep work, as they will all stimulate new muscle growth in different ways.
- Bent Over Rows- What better way to activate your middle back, and to fill out your ILS (Imaginary lat syndrome) than with an exercise that allows you not only to pull in an upward, but also a “back” motion, and with control enough to apply static, and negative intensities.
- Upright Rows- These are a little bit of a forgotten gem in the Bro arsenal. Don’t think they work? Ask any of the Lillibridge’s about how they built those traps. Hell, Eric’s traps have their own government they are so big. Again keep the weights moderate, and the reps in the 8-15 range. Really learn to “feel” these muscles. Build a mind-muscle connection, and learn how to activate them. This exercise is a must.
- Neck Work- This is shout out to Chuck Vogelpohl. He has the thickest neck I have ever seen on a human being. His neck was actually wider than his jawline, and he had a nasty set of traps. You need the neck work for balance, and they are a muscle so why not work them? Also what is more intimidating than huge yoke?
- Shrugs- I will put these in here, but I haven’t done shrugs with more than 55 lbs. dumbbells in over 8 years. I shrug with the purpose of squeezing the muscle, and contracting so hard they cramp. I don’t believe a huge amount of weight is needed. We aren’t looking to stroke our ego, we are looking to build serious mass, so the masses stroke your ego, and women stroke… well you get the point. Keep the weights moderate again, and do higher rep ranges, learn to squeeze, and control the weight.
It’s just now the peak of summer guys, and in my mind you have til Labor Day to get those traps bulging, so try these tried and true steps to building not only big traps, but a big back, and neck, and that is what will set you apart. Big backs equal power, and big backs don’t come easy, so dig in, and get to work, and I’ll see you at the beach… Bro.