Strong Traps, Healthy Shoulders
A funny thing happens whenever I inform someone (namely, guys) they need to hit their upper traps more. The immediately go into Bane mode:
Visions of heavy barbell shrugs, breaking Batman’s back, and walking around asking people “do you feel in charge?” run rampant.
It’s all well and good, I have nothing against shrugs. I draw the line against breaking people’s backs though. BAD BANE, NO!
Shrugs are undoubtedly a great exercise to build the upper traps. And the upper traps are kind of important when it comes to the ability to bring one’s arms overhead – they’re one of three muscles that help to upwardly rotate the scapula.
Via my time as a coach at Cressey Sports Performance (and even now) I work with a lot of people with shoulder issues. Training the upper traps directly has gotten a bad rap in recent years. But for athletes and lifters who are stuck in spine-extension based postures and can’t raise their arms overhead, training the upper traps can be a game changer for overall shoulder health and performance.
The key? Ensure they’re trained with upward rotation.