Build Big, Powerful Traps. Ditch the Shrugs.

Every skinny, weak guy has abs. Traps are the true sign of strength.

Paul Carter

I’d like to help save the weigh-lifting world from the over-reliance on shrugs to build the traps and upper back.

Aside from the fact that half aren’t even shrugging properly, there are far more effective methods that can be utilized to build thick, powerful traps and a powerful looking back.

The Snatch Grip High Pull

This movement is hands down the number one most effective way to build your upper back.

The trap muscles are busy all day being utilized in a support capacity, and then we normally work them by shrugging.. a slow movement done usually for high reps. Ditch the shrugs for a while…

The High Pull is at the opposite end of the spectrum. The explosive nature of the movement targets and stimulates the fast twitch muscle fibers of the upper back, which are far more capable of growing.

I have witnessed growth in the traps and upper back after just a handful of sessions, that’s no bullshit.

I first learned this movement by reading an article on by Christian Thibaudeau. I’ll post a link to that article at the bottom of this post.

The video below shows the full movement done correctly from the ground. I normally prefer to perform the movement from a standing position (hang position), as I am looking to target the upper back.

Be sure to really focus on the explosive pull of the traps, and keep the bar close to your body, elbows high (higher than the wrists).

When your traps are more sore than you thought possible the following day, you will know I wasn’t kidding!

Try 3 sets of 5-7 reps to start. Use straps, and use a weight where you can be explosive with proper form, yet still challenged.

The bar should reach at least to your chest on each pull. When you’re pulling some decent weight in the high pull, you will be amazed at the results. It’s a game changer.

There are plenty of other ways to build up the traps and upper back, but I like this movement so much and I’ve seen such great results from it that this article is devoted to this movement alone.

Working these a couple years ago at the home gym. This helped me correct my form, elbows need to be higher, but you can see the whole upper back is worked on each rep.

Sample Back Workout For that Powerful Look:

*Snatch Grip High Pull35-72-3 Mins
Dumbell Rows48-1090 Secs
90 Secs
Rear Delt Raises415-2045 secs

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[…] I prefer to hit the traps with high pulls, farmer carries and deadlifts, the shrug is always a good option to build them up, and we can still […]