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Traps: Shrugs not growing them?

The trapezius muscle is a large muscle group located in the upper back and neck area. It plays a vital role in various movements, including shoulder shrugs, pulling, and maintaining posture. Many individuals aim to achieve a well-developed trapezius for both functional and aesthetic reasons. However, simple shoulder shrugs alone may not provide the necessary stimulus for significant muscle growth. Let's look at the reasons why the trapezius muscle requires weighted contact to grow bigger and why shoulder shrugs alone are not enough.

Initially, it is important to understand the anatomy and function of the trapezius muscle group. The trapezius consists of three main sections: the upper trapezius, the middle trapezius, and the lower trapezius. The upper trapezius primarily elevate and retract the scapula, while the middle and lower trapezius help with scapular adduction, retraction, and depression. It also provides stability to the shoulder girdle and neck.To develop a well-rounded trapezius, it is necessary to target each of these sections.

Muscle growth, or hypertrophy, is stimulated by subjecting the muscles to time under tension first, and then progressive overload. Time under tension is a concept as simple as it sounds. Holding a muscle contraction under tension for a longer period of time which in turn fires your slow twitch muscle fibres. If you look at bodybuilders, their training whether heavy, medim, or light always involves slow concentrated lifts. Progressive overload involves gradually increasing the demands placed on the muscle, forcing it to adapt and grow stronger. When it comes to muscle hypertrophy, this principle is of utmost importance. Simply performing shoulder shrugs without incorporating weighted contact fails to provide the necessary challenge to stimulate significant muscle growth.

By incorporating external weights, such as dumbbells or barbells, into shoulder shrugs, the demand on the muscle fibers is amplified. As a result, the muscle experiences a greater stimulus, leading to hypertrophy.

However, by solely relying on simple shoulder shrugs whether it is done with barbells, or dumbbells, the trapezius muscle may eventually plateau in terms of growth and strength development. As the muscle adapts to the repetitive movement, it becomes more resistant to further gains. Rather than experiencing constant improvement, individuals may find themselves stuck with minimal progress. Incorporating weighted contact exercises is vital to continually challenge the muscle, promote growth, and prevent plateaus.

Ask any lifter that has put a heavy bar on their traps to squat. Nothing brings those muscles to life like heavy metal resting itself onto it. When I take people through mace training with a steel mace, I apply the same ideology to it. One particular exercise I quite often use as a warmup sees the mace resting on one trap, and then sliding it back and down on that trap allowing the weight to drop down but still maintaining contact between the muscle and the handle. Then the mace is pulled back up and pushed off the shoulder by shrugging throwing it up into the air. It then swings back to rest on (more like bang down on) the trap and the action begins all over again. This allows your training time to focus on both fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibres. Our trapezius muscles consist of 45% fast twitch and 55% slow twitch muscle fibres.

The development of a larger trapezius muscle requires weighted contact exercises that go beyond simple shoulder shrugs. Understanding the anatomy and function of the trapezius muscle highlights the importance of targeting each section for comprehensive growth. By incorporating external weights and progressively overloading the muscle, individuals can maximize muscle fiber recruitment and achieve more significant hypertrophy within the trapezius. However, incorporating exercises that target the entire muscle group helps to prevent plateaus and stimulate ongoing progress. So, if you aim to grow a stronger and more developed trapezius muscle, it is crucial to embrace weighted contact exercises and not rely solely on simple shoulder shrugs.

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