I read an article last week about grip training. It said that for a muscle to reach its full potential, the antagonist must be trained, otherwise the body limits the muscle for joint safety or something. That got me thinking. I’m having a lot of trouble getting my upper traps to grow. I wonder if maybe I started working the LOWER traps, you know, the muscles that bring the scapula down, then maybe I could more effectively train my upper traps. I thought perhaps I could do weighted dips without moving my arms, know what I mean? Any thoughts on this?

Try deadlifts, snatches, and cleans. If you dont grow all over your back from those then your a freak. whenever i do cleans for the first time in a long time, i get a headache the next day because all parts of my traps are sore. Dont be so specific. Im not knocking your question but because its a good concept but i think your making it harder than it has to be.

I remember a simular article, perhaps we read it in the same place. It said that you should work the opposite range to fully support the joints. Like if you do incline benching you should do standing barbell rows on back day to develop the shoulder joints evenly. But your thread brought a personal favorite exercise for traps to mind. Set an Incline bench so that the back leg is supported by a weight rack or tree and the bench is facing away from the rack. Grab a couple heavy dumbells and plop your chest down on the top portion of the bench. The bench shouldn’t push forward because the back leg is supported by the weight rack or barbell tree. Now shrug the weight like a normal shrug, without bending your elbows and focusing on pulling your traps together. I feel this better hits the traps at a more appropriate angle than standing perpendiular to the floor. I always get an awesome burn doing these. You will use less weight than a traditional dumbell shrug.

theres no real such thing as upper traps v. lower traps, sorry dude.

Tell that to my anatomy textbook. Have you ever seen an anatomical diagram?

I agree with Goldberg: the heavy back
exercises in general, and also overhead
pressing, are what you need. Shrugs
can be quite a waste of time.

Especially when it’s either with weights
(typically dumbbells) that are so light
as to be silly – what, 30% 1RM maybe at
most? – or with barbell weights that allow
only a bouncing up and down of the barbell
for a few seconds.

But even with good form and appropriate
weight, rows, DL’s, cleans, and overhead
presses are better exercises by far, I think.

patman, goto supertraining thats all i can tell you. look up the archives. Some guy submitted an article on how shrugs were bad because they only trained “the upper traps” and created an imbalance and Siff tore it to pieces. The article was based upon untested principles and concepts that did not prove to be true when placed in REALITY.

Once again RK appears out of the mist like Pinhead from “HellRaiser” to tell ya again, about the best trap exercise of all~it works the entire shoulder girdle, traps,rear delts, stretches upper chest, hits bis, and has made my traps and shoulders what they are today~the entire area tied in together with sweeping muscles~I’m not kidding~nothing has hit my traps and shoulder girdle like itit’s the side raiseyou just take 2 fairly heavy db’s, then increase in weight of course, stand with your palms facing into your sidesjust lift your db’s as high into your underarms as high as possible, lifting your shoulder girdle and traps naturally, hold for a count or more, then return. Except for shoulder presses, side lat raises, I do nothing else, and sometimes I start my shoulder workout with this! Try it for a coupla weeks and you’ll be convinced. If you run out of heavy enough db’s, get 2 heavy barbellscome on we’re bodybuilders, not accountants!!!

You would be surprised as to how imbalanced your back muscles can be. I have an injury from my middle traps/back muscles being a little weaker (and “poorly paterned”) as compared to my stronger lats and lowerback etc. I have seen some very qualified people about this and their main contention is that plenty of athletes who do big lifts (like Deads, Chins and Rows) still have middle/lower back weakness. It results from the stronger muscles doing work for the smaller muscles, and you might just have to do some specific exercises to avoid this/ correct this. Bent very strict lateral raises followed by shrugs will give you a feeling in your back that you might have never felt before. It did for me and I do all the big lifts.

PS. Mel Siff is an armchair guru who is full of shit, I have read some of his comments about muscle friction that are just ridiculous.

Lower traps are primarily stabilizers active in the overhead lifts. Your suggested exercise on the dip station would train the pec minor rather than the traps but it was a good thought! To expand on the other posters’ thoughts regarding overhead presses, I would suggest an emphasis on the eccentric motion while concentrating on keeping the shoulder blade motion in complete control. Ideally, you should feel fatigue in between the shoulder blades as you lower the weight as the mid and lower traps work to stabilize. Also use a Bar or dumbbells for this with no back rest since a machine does much of the stabilizing for you. Lastly, I find traps- like calves to be an allusive muscle to train since they both have very short ROM’s and can spend much of the time not under tension if trained incorrectly. Always make sure that you are feeling tension throughout the set as it is often lost on the eccentric.

if you see people doing shrugs with dumbbells, most will have real light dbs, say 30-40lbs, and then they usually will do 15-20 reps relatively fast. is this the way we build other muscles? no. it’s odd why you see people do that, and then they look at me like what the hell am i gonna do with those when a 155lb guy like me starts grabbing 100+lb dbs do to my shrugs. i have found using heavy weights with controlled concentric and eccentric shrugs to do well.