Tip 3: Higher Reps for the Win

Since shrugs have such a short ROM, you’ve got to do more reps than normal to get proper stimulation. The standard 8-12 reps usually aren’t enough keep the traps under tension long enough, so move into the 12-15, or even 15-20, rep range.

“I like using the heavy volume principles when I train my traps,” Capurso says. “I pick a weight at which 15 reps would be a challenge and go until I can’t lift the bar another rep. Your form may get a little loose at the end, but if you’re using a smart cheat technique here, you can overload the muscle and take your training to the next level. Take 2 minutes to catch your breath, and hit it again for three sets.”

Once you up your reps, you’ll start feeling the soreness in your traps that means growth is on the way.

Tip 4: The Forgotten Trap Builder

Shrugs are a great trap exercise, but they’re not the only one. The upright row is a compound movement that brings the rear delts and biceps into play to drive your traps into a deeper state of exhaustion.

When you do upright rows with your grip at shoulder width or more, you focus the energy on your delts. But, if you place your hands in a narrow grip (6-8 inches apart), the row turns into a trap annihilator! Start from a hang, and pull until the bar is at mid-chest level, keeping your elbows angled up to the sky. The pump and burn you feel in your traps will make you wonder why you haven’t been doing these since day one of training.

“Take the upright row a step further by doing a power pull as you approach the end of your range of motion,” says Capurso. “That sheer power you apply to get the extra pull uses a bit more momentum, which targets the fast twitch muscle fibers in your traps and leads to more growth.”