The Ultimate Trap Builder

by: Josh Bryant

The Great Jeremy Hoornstra demoing

Picture this: It’s 3:30 AM and you’re at the Waffle House, trying to enjoy your late-night meal in peace, when a scraggly-looking meth head with a reeking scent of cheap liquor approaches you. 

He then notices your Herculean traps, and with the fear of becoming scattered, smothered, and covered he quickly runs to the ditch behind the Conoco Station to sleep it off as you enjoy your meal. 

Big traps aren’t just for show, they’re like weapons ready to go into battle at any given moment. If you’re into hoisting some heavy iron, then you need traps that can handle the load. And if you want proof, just check out the top dogs in the world of deadlifting and Olympic lifting on YouTube. 

But that’s not all, my friend. 

Strong traps also keep your shoulder girdle in check, which is essential for rough and tumble sports like rugby, boxing, MMA, and football. They also help you maintain proper posture while squatting and gives your squat bar a sweet spot to rest on. Plus, they’re the key to locking out your deadlifts and Olympic lifts, as well as keeping your back locked down when you’re crushing it on the bench. 

Now, if you’re looking to beef up those traps, I’ve got just the exercise for you: the one-armed barbell shrug. This bad boy was passed down to me by the legendary Charles Poliquin (RIP) and offers some major benefits over your standard shrug routine. See, dumbbell shrugs can be a real pain in the ass, grinding against your thighs as you go up and down, barbell shrugs can cause painful penial friction.

But, the one-armed barbell shrug is a smoother ride. 

Plus, the barbell is more perpendicular to the floor, letting you go for a bigger range of motion. And as a bonus, it’ll make those teres minor and infraspinatus muscles work overtime, keeping the bar from sliding in front of your body. So here’s the drill.

Set up the barbell on the pins in a power rack, stand to the side, and grip that bar dead center. If you need to, use straps, but don’t let that grip give out on you. Lift that bar (you can brace the rack with your off hand if you have to), and shrug it up as high as you can, holding that top position for a full second. Keep cranking out those reps as needed. 

My recommendation? One to two days a week, hit this exercise hard. Three sets of 12-15 reps on one day, then four sets of 5-8 reps on another. But don’t be delusional, this isn’t a replacement for your heavy, full range of motion pulls. It’s just an add-on, so keep on pulling like a champ and watch those foothill traps swell up like the Himalyas. And keep those sketchy methhead at bay, to boot!

The Bible of Building Traps