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We probably don’t need to sell you on well-developed traps. By building this long, triangle-shaped muscle that’s located on the top half of your back, you can seriously change the topography of your upper body.
Besides adding size to your back and shoulders, you’ll also improve strength in nearly every upper-body lift. Start now, with these 3 great traps exercises.
The barbell shrug is the king of all trap-building exercises, says Tyler English. It targets the upper portion of your traps, which are responsible for lifting your shoulder blades.
DO IT: Grab a barbell with an overhand grip that’s just beyond shoulder-width apart, and let the bar hang at arm’s length in front of your waist. Keeping your back naturally arched, lean forward at your hip about 10 degrees.
Bend your knees slightly. Now shrug your shoulders toward your ears as high as you can. Your arms should be straight. Pause, then reverse the movement back to the starting position.
Compared to the barbell shrug (shown on the previous slide), the dumbbell shrug places less stress on your shoulder joints. That’s because your shoulders don’t have to rotate to hold the bar. This keeps them more stable as you perform the movement.
DO IT: Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at arm’s length next to your sides, your palms facing each other. Shrug your shoulders as high as you can.
Imagine that you’re trying to touch your shoulders to your ears without moving any other parts of your body. Pause in the up position, then slowly lower the weights back to the start.
Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Your middle deltoid may be the hardest working muscle during this movement, but your upper traps are working, too. They assist in raising the weight and act as stabilizers.
Don’t rotate your upper arms inward in the up position. (Picture pouring out a pitcher of beer.) It can lead to shoulder impingement. Keep your palms facing forward and the weights straight up and down.
DO IT: Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at arm’s length next to your sides. Stand tall, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Turn your arms so that your palms are facing forward, and bend your elbows slightly. Without changing the bend in your elbows, raise your arms straight out to your sides until they’re at shoulder level. Your arms should form a T with your body. Pause for 1 second at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.