Opinions are like assholes- everyone's got one. Unfortunately, on the internet, everyone's opinions are the equivalent of a gay crackhead's asshole mixed with that of the internet phenomenon Goatse- thus, they've got enormous, distended, pile-encrusted, hemorrhoid-laden opinions dripping with rancid shit and undigested food, and they haven't had a wash since the dawn of time. This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that people in the sports science and nutrition fields pander to the lowest common denominator, leaving anyone with a scintilla of enthusiasm, strength, or intelligence bereft of a life raft in a literal sea of bullshit.
Luckily, I know a guy with a longship.
Nowhere, my friends, is this problem more apparent than when it comes to a discussion of what makes decent traps. You will find eight gazillion fucking trap workouts on the internet, each more palsied, decrepit, ball-less, and generally fucking pathetic than the last. I have, however, seen the pinnacle of this tremendous shitheap of extravagant douchebaggery and weakness, and it's penned by none other than Nate "I read The Game, did a few pushups, and sucked TC Luoma's cock and somehow ended up an author" Green- "From Dud To Stud In 30 Days". In it, myriad contributors (including the formerly reputable Dave Tate- how he got roped into this nonsense I will never understand) contend that the best way to make a marked change to one's physique is to get lean and build up your shoulders, arms, and traps. As I blogged about this some time ago, I would tend to agree. That, however, is where our paths diverge.
The lauded contributors to this intellectually dishonest and testosterone deficient nightmare proffered the following for shoulders in traps, in addition to a laughable series of circuit workouts that included reverse lunges and bodyweight squats but lacked an actual lower body work:
Why would you take this man's advice on trap development? It's be like taking lessons on dunking from Verne Troyer.
Barbell Shrugs — 6 x 6
Rack Pulls — 8 x 8
Dumbbell Shrugs — 10 x 10 with a two-second contraction held at the top
Low-Trap Raises — 3 x 15
Face Pulls — 3 x 15
Barbell Shrugs — 2x20 (Note: If you're feeling adventurous, try overhead shrugs)
Upright Row — 3x15
Low Trap Raises — 2x15
Barbell Push Press - 6 x 6
Dumbbell Military Press — 8 x 8
Javelin Press — 10 x 10
Cable Lateral Raises — 3 x 15
External Rotations — 3 x 15
T-Muscle readers on the way to the gym
If there was any question in your minds that we had entered an age of "polio chic", it's time to set it aside, as the answer has come back in the affirmative. I'll confess, off the bat, that I've no idea what the fuck a Javelin Press is, nor do I know what a Low-Trap Raise is, and I've read Paul Kelso's book of ridiculous trap exercises many times. I pulled perhaps three good exercises out of that book, but managed to enjoy it overall because the topic rules. In case you're curious, a Javelin Press is a stupid name for a unilateral barbell overhead press (apparently only done with an unloaded barbell or a preloaded barbell), and a lower trap raise involves a set of ultra-light dumbbells and apparently doing an ultra-slow lateral raise while laying facedown. While I'd never do the latter, the great irony here is that I love occasionally doing a one arm barbell push press with 135, but I might have to swear them off now that they've been tainted by Nate Green and his stupid moniker for them.
That the workout above is an unmitigated disaster goes without saying, I think. I'm not really certain why they've even posted the thing, as it's not April 1, and I have a hard time believing their silly bullshit isn't a joke. Every jackass I've seen in the gym doing high-rep shrugs with 315 has the type of traps you'd expect from that silly bullshit- none at fucking all. They always have really cool Under Armor shirts, though, and their form is impeccable.
What should you be doing for traps? I'm glad you asked. This shit:
- Ultra heavy shrugs. Lots of people will decry my form. If any of them was anything but bereft of trap development, had a decent deadlift, or was in any way qualified to talk shit, I would encourage them to do so. I've never seen a form Nazi on shrugs with any trap development, and I've never seen anyone who does light, slow, controlled shrugs with any trap development of any kind. There's a reason for that- traps are fucking brutal, and since form follows function, you've got to lift brutal to look brutal. To the grammar Nazis, I know that was incorrect, but it sounded better than "brutally". The adverb's all but dead anyway.
- Rack pulls / the hand and thigh lift. The hand and thigh lift is an ultra-old school lift wherein you jam your thighs under the bar and use them to push the bar up as you stand upright. If you think that my 1 second battles with 1000+ lbs are unimpressive, I suggest you try them and get back to me. They hurt, and they work. Same goes for rack pulls, though I'll more often than not turn those into hand and thigh lifts, unconsciously, because I can move a hell of a lot more weight that way. And fuck- Paul Anderson did that exercise all the fucking time, so why wouldn't you?
- Deadlifts. They work. If you cannot figure out why, you should hit yourself over the fucking head with a tack hammer, because you're a retard.
- Bent over rows with a high body angle- The closer you are to vertical, the more your traps are involved.
- One arm dumbbell rows- I find these hit my traps fairly hard, though this may be due to the fact that my traps overpower my upper body to the point where they involve themselves in everything I do.
- High Pulls- I do these like they're a retarded combination of deadlift and upright row, which I know is incorrect. Done the way I do them, however, they beat the living shit out of your traps. To those Olympic lifters out there who are sitting at their computers aghast at the horrors I've perpetrated on camera with my high pulls, I'd apologize if I cared all that much, but I don't.
Blurry and grainy, but you can see I lack a neck.
Take it from a guy whose collared shirts touch his fucking ears if the collar's starched- high reps do not huge traps make. Huge fucking weights on big lifts done with a hell of a lot of hatred for your fellow man is the way to obnoxiously overdeveloped traps.