Shoulders and Traps

Recently I had a discussion with a co-worker over what feature displays true strength. Namely when in a police uniform, with a vest, gun belt, and polyester suit…..what physical feature lets people know you are a “bad ass”. This co-worker said large forearms. This was an obvious choice as they are not covered by sleeves and would be readily available to show. I identified the traps and upper back.

My reasoning was that the traps help define the upper body and show true strength. One could point to abs or waist circumference as an indicator of fitness but we all know people who are skinny with abs and have never worked out a day in their life. Genetics will not build traps. Traps are a symptom of power and strength. Along with that goes a strong upper back. A wide and powerful upper back helps provide that athletic V-shape so many of us are after.

There was a great MMA movie a few years ago starring Tom Hardy called Warrior. If you haven’t seen it netflix that movie. My wife enjoyed it and she has zero interest in anything combat sports related. The movie has a pretty intricate plot but a large portion involves two brothers who are competing in an MMA tournament. Each brother has a different style. Hardy’s character is significantly more aggressive and looks imposing on screen. What really sets him apart are his muscular traps. It really gives his character that aggressive “bad ass” look.


Another example I pointed out was UFC Fighter Zhang Lipeng. I remember seeing him for the first time and standing next to his opponent he looked like the more powerful fighter. His opponent and him were the same weight and were both high level fighters but if you had no idea who they were Lipeng looked like the type of guy you would steer clear from.


Lastly I pointed out Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, who may just be the most beautiful woman on earth. What makes her truly remarkable is the amount of strength and power that exists in her 5’2″ frame. I can almost guarantee she doesn’t spend hours in the gym doing shrugs. Her traps are defined and developed through compound movements such as deadlifts, cleans, and gymnastic movements.


After making my argument it was pretty clear that the traps and upper back were a much greater sign of physical strength than abs, forearms, or even a barrel chest.

After that talk I was ready for a decent shoulder/trap workout today


Deadlift x5
-Barbell Shrugs x3
-45lb plate shrugs x3
Mike’s shoulder routine
Face pulls x3

Circuit (3 rounds no rest between rounds)

Exercise ball sprawl drlll x10
-Medicine Ball Chest Throw x10
-Medicine Ball Hip Thrust x10 (each leg)
-KB High Pull x10


3 thoughts on “Shoulders and Traps

  1. There’s this new thing out on the net for women: Boobs can be bought, traps are earned. My traps are not big by any mean, but they are showing and I’ve never been prouder to display them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s awesome. Mine aren’t where I want them to be but the shoulders and traps are two of the areas of your body that contain the least amount of body fat so they are a great indicator of early or sustained progress

      Liked by 1 person

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