Nothing completes the powerful look like big traps. If you want to improve your upper trap development and have tried shrugs and haven’t gotten the results you’d like then don’t abandon shrugs just yet because I have something for you that’ll help supercharge the effectiveness of shrugs, so the exercise starts to pay dividends for you.
When we look at how our muscles develop, it can become obvious there is often gaping differences between the speeds at which certain muscles develop. Quads and biceps usually develop fairly quickly, while the traps are oftentimes slow to develop for most people. Why is this? And what can we do about it?
Building muscle is all about time under tension. This simply means the amount of time your muscle spends under tension of adequate weight (building muscle requires adequate time under adequate tension). Let’s consider the fact an average dumbbell curl will take maybe 1 second on the concentric and 2 seconds on the eccentric, that’s 3 seconds. Now consider how long the average shrug will take… probably less than 1 second for the entire up and down. That’s a lot less time under tension.
If we did 12 shrugs for 3 sets, that’d be 1 second x 12 reps x 3 sets = 36 seconds.
Compare this with the dumbbell curl scenario we’ve just mentioned, with the same rep and set scheme we’d get 3 seconds x 12 reps x 3 sets = 108 seconds.
That’s a vast difference.
Yet, many people who follow set-in-stone repetition and set schemes for all of their exercises condemn themselves to low time under tension for certain muscles which lack a large range of motion.
What’s the answer for shrugs?
Without doubt, the best solution is to go for more reps, more sets, or both. Mix it up. You can even try shrugging more slowly from time to time, but it seems to be that people get best results from shrugging very heavy weights in a more explosive manner – at least on the concentric. Case in point: Top strength coach Charles Poliquin ranks the Power Snatch as the best traps builder, and this movement is as explosive as they come.
Be sure that you use a lot of weight – the upside of limited range of motion muscles sometimes means they can handle much more weight – but be sure to not sacrifice your already limited range of motion in shrugs by using a weight you simply can’t perform full range, quality reps with.
Give higher volume a go for a month or two with different shrug variations to keep it fresh and see what kind of results you get. I’m betting they’ll be very favorable.