Get That: Bear Traps

Bear traps_rotator

“Bear Traps,” along with a broad chest and big biceps, are one of the major signs that “that guy must work out.” But how do you go from looking like a pencil-necked desk jockey to an all-star athlete? Below are three exercises to help you build big trapezius muscles.

Exercise 1: Barbell Shrug
Start by holding the bar with an overhand grip just outside of your thighs. With knees slightly bent (not locked out) and arms straight, lift your shoulders as high as possible. Hold the contraction for a full second, and then lower the bar back to the starting position. Higher reps work well, so four sets of 12-15 reps is recommended.

Exercise 2: Seated Dumbbell Shrug
Sit upright on a 90-degree bench while holding two dumbbells at your sides with arms fully extended. Keeping your core tight and chest high, shrug the dumbbells up and squeeze your traps. Hold for a full 1-2 second count, and then lower your arms back down. Again this will be a higher repetition movement so stick with four sets of 12-15 reps.

Exercise 3: Overhead Barbell Shrug
The overhead barbell shrug is an advanced shrug variation. Not only will it contribute to the growth of your traps but it will actually help to strengthen your core as well. Start by holding a barbell overhead as if you had just completed a military press. While keeping the core tight, contract your traps and elevate the shoulders. Squeeze the top position for two seconds, then slowly release. The advanced nature of this movement necessitates starting with a light weight and slowly increasing only when your form is perfect. Three sets of 10-12 reps are great for this exercise.

Include these three exercises in your routine and you can add “bear traps” as another impressive piece of your physique.

About the Trainer:

Jason Phillips, owner of Jason Phillips Fitness has a decade of experience in the fitness industry.  His clientele includes NFL, PGA, and NHL athletes as well as professional physique competitors, models, and of course the weekend warriors.  His unique approach has brought results to hundreds of people around the world.  Jason’s work can found at

For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!