Johnnie Jackson's Legendary Traps

How Johnnie Jackson built the best traps in bodybuilding history.


Photographs by Per Bernal


Yes, superior to the shoulder mountains of Ronnie Coleman or Markus Ruhl. Better, too, than the twin peaks atop the clavicles of Lou Ferrigno, Kevin Levrone, that other Jackson— Dexter—and anyone else you name.

At his best, when crunching a most muscular, Jackson’s traps rise so high they seem at risk of detaching. And from behind, the granite kite on his back jumps at you in 3-D. Up near the top, the flesh on either side of his neck forms a dramatic ring around an oddly elevated vertebrae, creating a look so freakishly unique that when a rear shot of him appeared in GQ, anyone who also read FLEX knew instantly it could only be Johnnie.

But it isn’t just all that mutant muscle that distinguishes Jackson’s trapezius. It’s also the dedication he’s applied for more than three decades to an area that almost everyone else gives short shrift. He treats his traps like every other body part, tormenting them in their own routine. His four exercises are chosen to work every section of the left and right trapezius muscles. At 45, Jackson is in the twilight of a stellar career. He’s won four pro titles, entered 12 Olympias, and been crowned world’s strongest bodybuilder. But perhaps his greatest accomplishment resides atop his shoulders and in the middle of his upper back.


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