I have talked a lot in the past about the importance of having a thick upper back to look jacked, but at the end of the day its still mandatory that you have a thick set of upper traps to compliment it. You can’t have one without the other and although they may sound like they both get trained from the same movements, it isn’t always the case.
For example, pendlay rows are an amazing upper back builder, but they won’t get you a super thick set of traps. Barbel shrugs are great for the traps, but they won’t give you the biggest upper back either. I just want to make it clear that there is a difference between the traps and upper back.
My philopsohy has always been that if you want to get good at anything then you have to learn from the best so in this case if you want ot get HUGE traps then I would highly recommend that you incoproate some olmyoic lifitng variaitons in your program. Olympic lifters wheretr they are enhanced or drug-free usually have some very impressive traps and its becasue of all of the explosive pulling that they are doing with heavy weights.
Powerlifters and bodybuilders have big traps too and I do recommend that you use some of their advice too. For example, bodybuilders are big advocates of high reps, time under tension, squeezes and stuff of that nature while powerlifters are big on deadlifts, rack pulls and heavy rows. There is obviously more to bodybuilding and powerlifting when it comes to how they train their traps, but what you have to understand is that you wont reach your trap genetic potential if you dont include olympic lifts, its really that simple.
1. Snatch Grip High Pull
In my opinion the SGHP is the godfather of all olympic trap builders and I actullay found out about this lift by reading Christian Thibedeau articles back in the day. A lot of people say that my traps are my best bodypart and I honestly credit the majority of my mass to this movmenet. Of course I did more than just this movmeent for my traps because I needed a multitude of special lifts and rep ranges to improve this lift, but it really is a terrfic movemnet.
In fact, I tihnk that it is such a terrific movement that your goals for trap size should revolve around this lift. In other words, the way you would want to get your 225×5 bench to a 315×5 bench to build a bigger chest would be the way you would want to get your 135×5 SGHP to 315×5 for bigger traps.
I just want you to remember that minimalist approaches only get you minimal results so to get good at the SGHP you will have to use a couple of the exercises below along with some additional heavy low back, ab, oblique work and other things of that nature.
2. Clean Grip Low Pull
3. Clean Grip High Pull
4. Hang Clean
5. Clean Grip Snatch (from the hang)
6. Snatch Grip Low Pull
7. One Arm DB Snatch
As far as your programming is concerend, I am not going to tell you taht there is one way to do the olympic lifts for bigger traps because there isn’t!
What I can tell you is that in all of your programs you want to have a couple of olympic lifting vaiations in order to promote higher exercise selection so that you traps get stronger in a variety of different ways.
For example, if you change your program every 2-4 weeks then you might make the SGHP your main trap builder for sets of 1-5 while also doing low pulls for higher reps of 4-8
The next program you might make the Hang Clean your main trap builder while doing Snatch grip low pulls for sets of 4-8.
The next program you might make have Clean Grip High Pulls and Muscle Snatches.
The important thing is that you are consistnyl rotating lifts while getting your numbers up overtime becuase if you just stick to the same lift then you will eventually plateau and its just not worth it in my opinion.
Snatch grip high pull: 315-405 for 1-5 reps.
Clean grip low pulls: 600+
Hang Clean 275+
So there you have it, start incorporating more olymoic lifitng variations in yoiur trap building arsenal, get strong at these movmeents overtime and watch your traps literally blow up before your very eyes.