The Power Look: High School and College Athletes Guide to Building Big, Scary Traps

Look Like a Beast

Packing a lot of muscle on your trapezius muscles is the cornerstone of what I call “the power look.” This look is simple to recognize. It’s characterized by the sound of jaws dropping when you enter a room and by the sentence, “Sorry sir, I’m not looking for trouble,” whenever you accidentally bump into someone. The power look can’t be hidden under clothing, nor can it be faked. Regardless of how you’re dressed, you just look damn strong, like an athlete ready to take on any challenge.

I’m going to give you a traps-specialization program to help you get that “I’m-gonna-dominate” power look. This program is to be done once per week where you’d normally perform your back workout. I suggest including this workout at the beginning of the week while you’re still fresh because it’s intense! Also, have at least 72 hours between this workout and your shoulder workout to avoid fatigue carryover.

The Ultimate Traps Workout

Partial Javorek Complex

Named after its creator, Romanian weightlifting coach Istvan Javorek, this complex is a superset of three exercises aimed at developing the shoulder girdle with an emphasis on traps. It acts as both a specific warm-up for the upcoming exercises and a great hypertrophy tool.

A1 – Power Pull, Snatch Grip

  • Reps: 6
  • Instructions: Using a snatch grip, start with the bar slightly above the knees. Using your whole body, bring the bar up to your sternum; be sure to contract your traps forcefully at the end of each repetition. Keep the bar close to your body and fully extend.

A2 – Power Pull, Clean Grip

  • Reps: 6
  • Instructions: This is best described as a cheated upright row. Start the bar at the knees and bring it up to your chin using your whole body.

A3 – Scapular Retraction Barbell Row

  • Reps: 6 (hold the static contraction for five seconds per rep)
  • Instructions: This exercise develops the rear deltoids and the middle portion of the trapezius muscle. It’s similar to a regular barbell row except the goal is to reach maximum scapular retraction (try to squeeze your shoulder blades together).

Repeat this three-exercise complex twice with no rest between sets, using the same load for all three exercises. Rest after the last complex of the second set, then move to exercise B below.

B – Power Clean from Blocks

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 5
  • Instructions: Olympic lifters often have the biggest traps, thanks to their pulling exercises. The power clean from blocks is unbeatable for increasing pulling power. Start with the bar on blocks slightly above the knees, then explode upward with a powerful leg and back extension, keeping the bar close to your body. Catch the bar with a slight knee flexion.

C – Overhead Shrug

  • Sets: 1
  • Reps: 20
  • Instructions: Hold the bar overhead (intermediate grip) as if you’d just completed a shoulder press. Stretch your traps by bringing your shoulders down, then contract your traps to bring your shoulders up in a straight line. Hold the highest position for two seconds.

D – Snatch Grip Deadlift

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 5
  • Instructions: This exercise is great for overall back development. Start with a wide grip, feet hip-width apart, and a tightly arched back. Lift the bar by extending your knees and back, keeping the bar close to your body.

E – Snatch Cuban Press

  • Sets: 1
  • Reps: 20
  • Instructions: Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides. Perform a semi upright row by contracting your traps and arms. Hold for two seconds, then rotate your shoulders so that your arms end up overhead, pointing outward and up.

Workout Recap

Here’s a quick summary of this intense traps routine:

Power Pull, Snatch Grip26
Power Pull, Clean Grip26
Scapular Retraction Barbell Row26
Power Clean from Blocks35
Overhead Shrug120
Snatch Grip Deadlift35
Snatch Cuban Press120

Remember to perform this routine only once per week on back day. Give this workout a try and in a short period of time, you’ll have traps that defy imagination and might even earn you a cool nickname like “The Bull.”

Now, go hit the gym and start building those beastly traps!