How do you train for big traps?

Why is the fitness community saying that “traps” are the new “abs” in today’s generation? Well, it’s simple. It’s really awesome to look like you’re walking around town with a neck-roll sticking out of your shirt! If you’re serious about lifting, big traps matter in more ways than one.

The Benefits of Big Traps

How do you get big traps?

Granted, we talk about how much we lift to get those bad boys growing, but what are the perks of having them? If you’re a full contact sport person like myself then having big traps (leading to a big neck) helps in your sport. In rugby your neck strength and durability is especially useful when you find yourself caught in an awkward position when tackling an opponent, engaging in a scrum, scrum collapsing, or getting picked up and thrown onto the ground.

This applies to other combative sports such as MMA, wrestling, jiu jitsu, sambo, judo, and the list goes on and on. If you ever find your body caught in a position where there’s a lot of pressure on your neck, you’ll quickly realize the benefit of building your traps up to avoid painful experiences.

You’ve probably seen it happen live or on TV. It’s not a pretty sight to see someone’s entire bodyweight land on their neck taking most of the load from the compression.

When thinking of all the things that could happen to your neck, I’d take a dislocation to any body part over a broken neck any day of the week. This was why I got into heavy weight training and exercising my traps at least 2 times a week going heavy and hitting high repetitions. My thought process is to give the opponent something difficult to grab onto and something that could absorb a lot of impact from the hits you take during a game or even in tournaments.

Training for Big Traps Like a Bad Ass

Training for Big Traps

To look like a bad ass you have to train like a bad ass. Big traps will make you look rugged, strong, and capable, but they won’t come easy. Let’s breakdown the regiments to follow to get you looking like Bane from The Dark Knight Rises.

I’m a firm believer in lifting heavy for low reps, but being in an explosive impact sport we not only want to thicken the upper body but also strengthen the heck out of it too. This program for big traps takes that into account.

Big Traps Day 1

Set Exercise Rounds x Reps
A1: Barbell Cleans 5 x 5
B1: Elevated Lateral Raises 5 x 8
C1: Tire flips 5 x 6-8
D1: Heavy Farmers Walks 5 x 25-30yrds
E1: DB Shrugs 1 x 100

Big Traps Day 2

Set Exercise Rounds x Reps
A1: DB Snatch 5 x 6
B1: DB Military Press (3sec Descent) 5 x 8-10
C1: Pull Ups 5 x 8-10
D1: KB High Pull 4 x 12-15

More Tips for Big Traps

Lets not forget about the fact there are many variations to build those bad boys up: Trap bar deadlift, barbell shrugs, deadlifts, Sled drag to row,etc. These are good guild lines to approach on developing those muscles to make sure you’re injury free in the long run when you play your sport. Have fun with this, get freaky, get fitted for new shirts because your neck is bigger than 18 inches now, and just enjoy the gains.


Tyler Perez (www.RespectStrong.com) is ISSA certified, NASM MMA Conditioning Specialist, NESTA Muay Thai Fitness Trainer, and Onnit Certified trainer specializing in functional mass gaining. After retiring from international rugby Tyler wanted to get back into the fitness community by contributing everything and anything for anyone who needed help. Having a background in athletic performance he have sought out coaches who could help him get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Ranging from barbell lifting, kettlebells, and calisthenics Tyler hopes to teach more of what he knows to the public so he too can become a teacher as my coaches have been to him.

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