Shoulder Exercises

Monster Bear Traps Workout

An impressive upper body isn't complete without developed upper trapezius muscles.

Monster Bear Traps Workout
Duration 2 days
Exercises 4
Equipment Yes

When an actor rolls into Hollywood, his ability to emote on-camera is pretty important. But everyone knows that to really make it, you need connections. Your body is a lot like Tinseltown—the right connections make the difference. To me, the most important connection in the human body is the one that joins the shoulders with the neck: the upper trapezius. Developed traps complete the athletic look and provide support to the head for dynamic activity. Here’s the most effective way to build this critical connection.

The Routine

This workout hits the traps hard with high-volume, muscle-building rep ranges and an eclectic mix of exercises—a standard dumbbell shrug, a body-weight shrug using a dip station, a behind-the-back variation, and an upright row that utilizes a shoulder press machine in a way most people don’t think to.

Do this routine one to two times a week for the next month, then change the exercises up to keep the muscles guessing. Mix in free-weight barbell shrugs, try the Smith machine shrugs in front of the body, do your shrugs with cables, make use of the diamond-shaped “trap bar” if your gym has one—even the slightest variations can provide a different stimulus to spur development.

The traps may be a relatively small muscle group, but they’re one of those body parts that put the finishing touches on a physique that people notice instantly when they meet you. Don’t overlook this connection.

The Basics

➜ traps are often trained as part of a shoulder workout. if this is your preference, do them after delts. However, traps can also be trained on their own or with just about any other body part. Back is another popular muscle group to pair them with.

➜ increase weight on every set of each of the exercises above. Keep rest periods brief, at around one minute—your traps recover quickly.

Exercise Sets Reps
Shrug Machine Upright Row 3 12, 10, 8
Dip-Bar Shrug 4 10
Smith Machine Behind-the-Back Shrug 4 12-15
Dumbbell Shrug 4 10


Day 1

Exercise 1

Smith Machine Upright Row You'll need: Smith Machine How to
Smith Machine Upright Row thumbnail
3 sets
12, 10, 8 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Dip Bar Shrug
exercise image placeholder
4 sets
10 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Smith Machine Behind-the-Back Shrug
exercise image placeholder
4 sets
12-15 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Dumbbell Shrug You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Shrug thumbnail
4 sets
10 reps
-- rest