Weak Link Training: the Missing Piece to Big Shoulders

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Developing the back and shoulders can be straightforward – if we don’t look for the links that can hold us back from better performance. A lot of lifters will attribute well developed, strong traps to an impressive set of shoulders. They can complete the appearance of mass and girth across the top.

Unfortunately, what become overlooked as a by-product are the lower traps – the portion that run between the shoulder blades on your back. Not only can they add to upper back thickness, but they serve an important role in functionality. See, the lower traps act as depressors of the shoulder blades, meaning they’re key players to do correct pulldowns, pull ups, rows, and can even affect your deadlift and bench press strength. Often times they’re weak as compared to the upper traps, and this creates imbalances. Knowing this, here is a simple “weak links” workout to focus on sleepy lowers.

1A. Trap – 3 Raise

Make sure that your back can be near horizontal to the ground. Don’t use a dumbbell over 10 pounds – it won’t take much to feel this where you should. Focus on pulling the shoulder back before raising the weight every rep, and this will engage the lower traps.

3 sets x 12 reps per arm

1B. Scapular Dip

Be sure to use parallel bars and hold at the top of each rep for a full second count. Make sure to keep a “proud chest”—don’t let your chest cave inward.

3 sets x 15 reps

2A. Lat Pulldowns

3 rounds x 15 reps

2B. Scapular Wall Slide

This will allow for the shoulders to train for external rotation and allow us to do an “unloaded” movement to put the traps and scapular muscles to work through an active range of motion. Remember to keep all points of the arm and hand in contact with the wall through the ROM.

3 rounds x 15 reps

C. Seated Rows

This 20 minute workout should really engrain the mechanics of the shoulder capsule in stone, and light up the lower traps from their dormant state. Use it as a supplement to your current program and enjoy lasting results.

4 sets x 12-15 reps

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