Sunday, July 8, 2018

Trap Development Using Olympic Assistance and Bodybuilding Movements

As of mid June/2018, available in ebook form.
Same book as the out of print 1927 original.  

"His comments on health and care of the body are worthy of careful reading and study. . . "

In 1936 the weightlifting world took one look at amazing Khadr el Touni and said, "Wow . . . look how powerful he looks!" And to prove it, Touni went ahead and set some lifting records that were so incredible for those days authorities believed the limits of human strength in the middleweight class had been reached. Yes, his lifting power astonished all, but his trapezius development was cause for equal astonishment, and it was what made everyone comment on his power packed appearance. 

Perhaps Reg Park created as big a stir when he won the 1951 Mr. Universe contest. As Reg bent his trunk slightly forward during his posing exhibition and contracted his traps to their limit, sound ran over the audience and as one man they stood on their feet and cheered Reg to the echo. Yikes! A noisy lot there. 

And Reg, champion in his own right, came off the posing pedestal afterwards and said, "All the time I was making that trapezius pose I kept thinking of Clancy Ross, and how he startled and amazed the crowd with his version. It was this pose of Clancy's that really inspired me." 

Beyond any doubt, the fully developed trapezius muscle imparts a solid and rugged look, an appearance of bulk and power, and no shoulders look complete unless these muscles are powerfully and proportionately formed. In fact, big deltoids and poor trap muscularity impart a freakish look to the upper body (hey, he don't mean that in a good way, you fool), an unnatural squareness that must be got rid of in order to become impressively developed and achieve physical excellence. 

Don't make the mistake of working on the trapezius muscle alone, because without a corresponding increase in the size of their allied groups, they will look ugly and disproportionate and spoil what would otherwise be a perfectly formed shoulder girdle development. You can work other muscle groups alone, such as the calves or biceps, but to properly and symmetrically build up your traps the deltoids and frontal neck muscles must be exercised right along with them. Then and only then do they impart that rugged and bulky look.

Many bodybuilders call the traps a three-sided muscle, but it is actually a muscle with four sides: One point is attached to the base of the skull, one to the bottom point of the spine in the middle of yer back, and two on the corners, one on each collar bone. The trap muscle raises and rotates the shoulders, squeezes the shoulder blades together, helps turn and twist the head, and comes into play when you lift heavy weights.

Extremely heavy poundages can be used to bring the traps into complete play and therefore develop them fully. Results are best achieved by using heavy weight-lifting exercises and their allied assistance movements, and then combining these exercises with those used by bodybuilders. Thus a development is obtained that embraces bulk. power, definition, and proportion, and the strongly developed shoulder girdle section becomes a reality.

It is for this very reason that I am breaking the exercises into two distinct parts: one for the weightlifting and assistance movements, and one for the bodybuilding exercises. Think along these lines. The lifting routine will give you power . . . bulk . . . size. The bodybuilding program will shape, proportion, and separation.

When you look seriously at these two sections, you will notice that several ExerMcCises are given.      

Click to ENLARGE

How many should you use? Here's one way to judge how much volume to use for a trapezius specialization program. First, if your traps are fairly well developed already there is no reason to undertake a specialization layout for them, no matter how they may attempt to coerce, bribe, or bully you. 

"Train Me, Bra!"

Some lifters notice that the trap on one side seems to consistently make 'proper' decisions, while the other tends more toward 'bad' decisions. It's not uncommon at all, my friend. 

So then, if your traps are already quite developed and talkative, there is no real need for specialization. But you can continue to perform two movements (one for power and bulk, and the other more for shape and separation). 

If you have average development, if your traps already speak to you but their language is still indecipherable (oral trap impediment syndrome, knows as "OTIS" in parts of the South), take two exercises from each group . . . a total of four in all. Every month, change the routine, not necessarily in its entirety but create variety in some way. You should be hearing understandable words soon, then sentences, and yes, full stories shouldn't be long off providing you keep up the consistent hard work. Now . . . for those who have really poor trap development at this time, here are your . . . 

Pointers to Progress

1) Muscle Priority.
Again, I must hammer away at this principle. Most bodybuilders simply do not recognize its importance, yet they pine away the wee hours wishing their traps would speak. It is an extremely simple rule! Whatever section of your physique you are specializing on, always exercise that section FIRST in your workout. In this way you are fresh, and the chosen muscle group receives every available ounce of your energy. How does one weigh this elusive essence known to man as energy? No matter and irregardless! Work the muscle (or group) you are specializing on first, straight out of the gate, immediately after rolling around on a length of foam sewage pipe and/or striking yourself repeatedly with blows from and rolls with a foam stick. When specializing on the traps, be sure to use the yellow colored implements. Often imitated, never duplicated duplicated duplicated. 

2) Time Spent Working Out.
Duplicated. Don't think you can give the muscles a quick 15-minute burst of exercise and get excellent results That's not enough. I mean, that'll be enough of thinking that. You know what I bloody mean. Work them for at least 30 minutes. Each exercise should be performed correctly, according to the purpose in mind. As you are exercising you should concentrate on the action of the traps, visualize them working, getting bigger, stronger and more powerful with each repetition. Use the elastic quality of time to squeeze more feeling, contraction and strength manifestation into every rep. Be a Chet Baker junkie barbell guy, getting right into time's rubbery qualities for your own use and benefit. CONCENTRATE! 

3) Use the Flushing System. 
Do all your trap-centric work before moving on to other muscle groups. When you get to the bodybuilding movements pump the living fuck outta them traps. As an honest to gosh real lifter's trapezius would put it.


4) Choice of Reps, Sets, Exercises.
You should never perform more than 9 reps an exercise, 3 sets each, and you should never use more than 6 movements used in a trap-centric way (3 from each of those illustrations up there). Choose a weight that makes you really grind out those nine reps, and as soon as you feel 3 sets of 9 becoming somewhat easy, increase the weight.

Perform the Power exercises first. Those'll be from the chart titled Weightlifting Assistance.
Then perform your chosen Bodybuilding movements. From the other chart, eh. 
Put EVERYTHING you have into each repetition. 

5) Exercise Performance: Bodybuilding Section - 
These movements should be performed slowly, intensely, and never rushed through. Keep to one steady, even rhythm when raising AND lowering the weight. Pay as much attention to the lowering portion as you do to raising. Sure. Be a weightlifter/lowerer. The total package. That's what's called for here. Keep to as strict a style for as many reps as you can, and when the last couple get tough, then and only then cheat a little. 

Exercise Performance: Weightlifting Section - 
All power movements must be performed "cheat" style. Cheat . . . cheat . . . cheat and force yourself to increase the poundage as often as you possibly can. Don't be afraid to use plenty of weight, but keep to the All The Weight You Can Handle For Nine Reps Principle. 

6) Starting Out on the Program.
For the first training session use only one exercise out of each section. After the first two weeks have been done use two exercises out of each section. If, after another two weeks have gone by, you feel you can you can handle more, then take three movements from each section. But never go above six exercises. Don't try to handle the biggest poundages during the first couple of workouts, but use a lightish weight to get used to the added trap work. Avoid diving right into the deep end for the first week. 

Okay. Now to the exercise descriptions. 
We'll have them traps-a yours talkin' in no time.

Weightlifting Movements: 

Exercise 1: Bent Forward Rowing to Upper Chest - 
Grasp a barbell with a wide, wide grip, body bent forward at the waist and parallel to the floor. Dorian Yates Temple Gym was a pretty old building and the floor had a real slope to it. All week, like I said. Use smaller plates on the bar so you keep it clear of the floor and get a complete stretching effect on the traps. Drop the body below parallel position and heave it back to a slightly above parallel position, using the body motion to pull the bar to the upper chest. Lower back as steadily as possible and repeat. Don't forget to use that cheating motion and arm pull to really get a good start on the bar. Use varying grips for each set, from very wide to shoulder width. 

Exercise 2: Heavy Hang Cleans from Floor to Shoulders - 
It's best to start off with a fairly light weight at first until you get used to this exercise. Take a shoulder width on the and pull it up and into the shoulders from the get-set position. DON'T SPLIT OR SQUAT but use all the power of the back and arms to whip the bar into the shoulders. Return it to full downward stretch of the arms and without any pause bend the trunk forward and return it to upright position and at the same time clean the weight into the shoulders. Continue with the hang cleans for the required number of reps. Width of handspacing, as in the first exercise, can be altered with each set of hang cleans. 

Exercise 3: Heavy Dead Lifts - 
Load up the bar with a very heavy poundage, say at least 50 pounds above your best full Clean. Stand before the bar and bending down, grip it with a shoulder width hand spacing. Come erect, lifting the bar up until your body is in the full upright position and the bar is hanging down at full arms' length. At this point SHRUG THE SHOULDERS as high and hard as possible. Lower the bar back to the floor and repeat, remembering to shrug the shoulders hard every rep. 

Exercise 4: Heavy Upright Rowing (Pulls) from Floor to Waist -
Get set before a bar as if you were to clean it, hands spaced at a very wide width. Wild wild world of wide width weightlifting, eh. Stand upright, at the same time hauling the bar up NO HIGHER THAN YOUR WAIST. Lower the bar back under control to starting position and repeat. Use very heavy weights.

Exercise 5: One Hand Dead Lifts -
Use a barbell. Use a poundage equal to your best two hands snatch to start off with. Grip the bar with one hand, dead center so there is no bar motion due to poor balance when you lift it off the floor. Place the free hand behind you. Lift the bar off the floor and when the body is erect try to raise the shoulder supporting the bar as high as you can . . . it's a powerful shrugging motion. Lower the shrugged shoulder first, then place the bar back down on the floor and repeat. Exercise each trap separately, first the good one then the evil one, blocking out any stories they may whispering in your ear to convince you to stop trying so hard, lifting so much, enjoying the session to this extent.

Exercise 6: Seated Peak Contraction Shrugs -
This is one of my favorite trap exercises, and you rarely see it performed. Sit on a strong exercise bench with a barbell in front of you and resting across the bench. Place the bar about 5 inches in front of your knees so that you have to lean a little forward to perform the exercise. Bend your arms at the elbows (bending them mid-humerus is anything but humorous. unfunny bone joke), grasp the bar with a shoulder width grip (I said shoulder width, you Howorth wannabe), and try to raise the bar UP a few inches. Are you back now from looking at the illustration up there? Good. Concentrate on the trapezius muscle while attempting this movement. Don't try to hold the bar up, just raise it an inch or  off the bench and at once lower and repeat. Variety can be introduced by altering the width of hand spacing.

The above six exercises are among the very best power and bulk exercises that work the traps hard. But naturally, practice of the Snatch and Clean are also great trapezius developers.

Bodybuilding Movements:

Exercise 1: Behind Hips Shrugs -
Here's a wonderful exercise, introduced to bodybuilders by Charles A. Smith. Notice how the barbell is held not in front of the body but behind it. You can have your training partners lift it up behind you and then grasp it, or you can get the bar behind you by taking it from the floor, or from stands. Keep the body as erect as possible once you have the bar in position. Squeeze the shoulder blades together hard first, and only then start to shrug your shoulders as high as you can. Lower the shoulders and repeat, but remember . . . never once allow your shoulder blades to move apart but keep them squeezed together throughout this exercise.

Exercise 2: Narrow Grip Upright Barbell Row -
Grasp as barbell with the hands 3 to 4 inches apart, arms down at full stretch and body held absolutely erect. By bending the arms at the elbows (there's gotta be another joke here. Go for it.) Finished making yourself laugh? Okay. By bending the arms at the elbows and pulling up, raise the bar to chin level. HOLD IT THERE FOR A COUNT OF THREE, squeeze the shoulder blades together, lower the bar back slowly to commencing position and repeat. Don't rush through this exercise but keep the exercise motion steady, slow, and concentrated. Don't forget to squeeze your shoulder blades together at the end of each repetition.

Exercise 3: Wide Grip Upright Barbell Row -
This exercise is performed exactly the same as exercise 2 except that a wide grip is used . . . 3 to 4 inches wider than shoulder width. Perform the movement with the same slow and steady manner but this time don't bother to squeeze the shoulder blades together. Just hold the finish position . . . the high raise . . . for a slow count of three before you lower the bar back to commencing position for another rep.

Exercise 4: High Pull to Arms' Length Overhead -
Don't try to use too heavy a weight at first. Practice with a light bar until you are accustomed to the exercise. Use a hand spacing about 6 inches apart. Keep the body erect and, starting with the bar down at full arms' stretch, pull it up. Don't stop when it reaches your chin but continue pulling the bar up until it is at full arms' length above the head. Here's a really marvelous movement for working the traps hard.

Don't tell anyone, but you might wanna give barbell overhead shrugs a shot at some point.

Exercise 5: Dumbbell Shoulder Rotations -
Stand erect with a heavy dumbbell in each hand at the full downward stretch of your arms. Let shoulders sag down as low as possible. Now raise them up as high as you can with a shrugging motion. When they are as high as you can get them (you might find you can go a little higher after going as high as 'possible' if you try), pull the shoulders as far back as you can get them, squeezing the shoulder blades together like there's no tomorrow. Do this yesterday but be in the now. Now, push push the shoulders as low as possible, then as far forward as you can, and up again. Thus the shoulders are rotated in a complete circle from back to front; and then, after you have completed the required number of repetitions and are ready to start another set, you can reverse the rotations and move the shoulders in a circle from front to back.

Exercise 6: Seated Dumbbell Shrugs -
Sit on the end of an exercise bench, holding a heavy dumbbell in each hand. Shrug your shoulders as high as you can. When they are as high as you can possibly get them, move your shoulders back as far as possible and then forward as far as possible. Lower the shoulders and dumbbells down and repeat. Don't make more than one forward or backward shoulder movement after you have shrugged the bells as high as you can manage.

There are scores of other shrugging motions and trapezius exercises, but these given above are some of the most common along with some of the most unusual and will help you get started so that in time you will be able to "feel" your way around and create exercises of your own and that are better suited to your own individual trap development problems. Set aside a day each month for experimental purposes. Soon, your traps too will be talking in long sentences like that one up there!



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