Tip 2: Full ROM for Shrugs

Everybody who’s trying to build traps does shrugs with either dumbbells, a barbell, or a machine. One thing most of them do wrong is to go way too heavy, which further reduces this exercise’s already very short range of motion (ROM). This happens a lot when people use a barbell or a machine because of the temptation to load up as many 45s as possible.

“Sometimes you see guys with five or six hundred pounds stacked onto a bar,” says Capurso. “What they end up doing looks more like a muscle spasm than a legitimate shrug.”

Reducing the ROM also reduces stimulation to your traps, and it is this stimulation that leads to growth. To keep the ROM as wide as you can, start by letting your traps fully stretch at the bottom, then shrug upward to a full contraction. Capurso likes to visualize the contraction as trying to touch your traps to your ears.

Just as half reps on squats or leg presses won’t allow you to build your thighs to their full potential, nothing less than full-range shrugs will do the job for your traps. Yes, you sacrifice weight, but this isn’t a competition to see how much weight you can shrug. The goal is to build up your traps.