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Shrug It Off to Add Muscle On Your Traps

Leave your straps at home and try this alternating grip approach.

By Rob Fitzgerald

You want huge traps, and you know the best way to get them is through a steady diet of barbell shrugs. Toward the end of your heavy sets, however, you’re running into a consistent problem: Your grip keeps giving out before your shoulders do.

There’s some controversy when it comes to combating this issue. Grip deficit seems to be easily fixed by using lifting straps, but you’ll find plenty of resistance to this idea from lifters and trainers who advocate working your grip at the same rate as your pulling and static-hold moves to develop everything in tandem.

Using a double-overhand grip at all costs can hold you back in terms of the load you’ll be able to lift, though, so there’s a second school of thought that addresses this problem by having you do heavy shrugs with a deadlift-style alternating grip. Critics of the alternating approach say your back will develop asymmetrically if you do this, but if you simply switch the alignment of your hands with each set, your weekly volume won’t be enough to cause any imbalances. With that said check out the following 5 tips for better shrugging.

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