I have huge fucking traps. This is the topic of conversation nearly every time I discuss training with anyone, as bodybuilders tell me that they've ruined my symmetry and X-frame (hahaahaha. Fucking bodybuilders! They kill me!), and everybody else wants them.
Whenever I'm asked how I got them, I smile, and I answer the same way, every time: "Shrugs and deadlifts."
Here's where it all goes horribly wrong, as the person asking me is invariably bereft of any trapezius development, yet they will proclaim to the skies, "But I shrug and deadlift!"
No. You don't.
I shrug and deadlift. Most other people do shit that looks like it was picked up in a group fitness class on a polished wood floor while surrounded by mirrors. Shrugging happens in a heavy squat rack. Deadlifting happens in a cloud of chalk and frequently a puddle of blood.
Wanna learn how to shrug? First, let's go over what shrugging is NOT:
- Anything under 4 plates on a side. Shrugging with 315 is not shrugging- it's some form of odd public masturbation.
- Anything wherein your goal is reps, rather than weight. No one gives a fuck that you did 43 reps with 225. You're a fucking pussy. Go join a Bally's and buy all of your workout gear at International Male.
- A movement wherein you ROLL YOUR FUCKING SHOULDERS. Sweet mother of fuck, why in the hell would you do this? Complete development? Yeah. Sure. My cock has better development, and my infraspinatus is still intact. You're a pussy if you roll your shoulders.
So, what IS shrugging?
- Heavy ass weight. I work up to 10 plates on a side regularly for singles. I've got surgery for my 60% tear in my tricep and my halved bone spur on Tuesday, and yet I did 15 sets of 3 with 7 plates on a side today. That's fucking shrugging.
- No reps over 5. If you're doing more than 5 reps, you're doing the wrong fucking exercise. Add weight, or refer to #2 in the preceding section.
- Brutal, painful, and soul-crushing. It should not be something you can do while holding a conversation about Brangelina's newest addition to their brown baby collection.
Set the pins so that the bar rests about 4 inches below the line where your hands drop naturally. This way, you won't hit the pins on every rep, because the bar will bend. Speaking of that, make sure you use a bar that's already bent, if possible, because this destroys bars.
Use straps. No one's impressed by the fact that you did a set with no straps if you did half the reps you could with straps, and you left three of your calluses on the bar. You can't do any more useful lifting (though you know you'll just put a wad of paper towel in your hand and keep going), and you won't be killing your traps as much.
Here's the key to the whole shitteree- you're going to do an old-school and and thigh lift to get it off the pins. Instead of just doing a quarter dl, try wedging your legs underneath the bar and squatting it up, putting most of the stress on the tops of you legs, rather than your back. This will become especially key late in the workout, when your low back is fried.
All of the same rules apply to deadlifting. If you're using fewer than 4 plates, you might as well just be jacking off, because your traps are going fucking nowhere.
I guaranfuckingtee you Derek Poundstone shrugs heavy.Now go shrug something heavy, and be quick about it, fuckers. Quick and brutal. No squeezing anything, no "feeling the movement". Just load up the bar and move it as far as you can as many times as you can and repeat. I guarantee you, you're going to get way more trap development out of 10 sets of 3 "shitty" reps with 6 plates than you would out of 3 sets of 20 perfect reps with 2 plates, and you'll sure as shit feel it more in the following days. Moreover, you're going to do wonders for your high pull, deadlift, and your testosterone levels.(Frye)
If you curious how often, I do pulling movements as often as humanly possible, which range from stones to logs (clean and press) to deadlifts with every kind of bar available, to shrugs and high pulls.
Be a fucking man about it.
Frye AC, Lohnes CA. Acute testosterone and cortisol responses to high power resistance exercise. Hum Phys (2010) 36:4 457-461.