Well developed deltoids and trapezius muscles give a bodybuilder the broad-shouldered look. Shoulders are largely responsible for the much sought after "V-tapered look."
The trapezius (traps) muscle is made-up of three separate regions. The upper portion of the trapezius is mainly responsible for shrugging your shoulders. The middle and lower regions are used during rowing type movements. Well developed traps help to counterbalance the chest and front (anterior) deltoids. This helps to improve posture and reduce the risk of injury.
Here are are some exercises designed to target your traps. You should incorporate these in your shoulder and back workouts. Do 1-2 warm up sets for each exercise and then do 2-3 heavy sets. Do 8-12 reps per set and really focus on feeling the muscles stretch and contract with each rep.
This exercise is excellent for working the traps. Secondary stress is placed on the forearms from gripping the weights.
Grip a barbell shoulder width apart. Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the barbell at arms length in front of you.
Keep your arms straight during the entire movement. Sag your shoulders downward as far as you can. You will feel your traps stretch, hold this position for a second. Shrug your shoulders upward and squeeze your traps at the top. Hold this position for a second. Repeat.
Tip - for variety you can do this exercise from a low cable pulley or use a pair of dumbbells instead of a barbell.
This is a good exercise for working the muscles of your shoulder girdle. Primary muscles are the traps and the deltoids. Secondary muscles are the biceps, brachialis, and the forearms.
Grip a barbell a little narrower then shoulder width. Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the barbell at arms length in front of you.
Keep your elbows above your hands at all times. Pull the barbell directly up from the starting position until the bar is just below your chin. Hold this position for a second to maximize the peak contraction, then slowly lower to the starting position. Repeat.
Bent Lateral Raises (also known as "Reverse Dumbbell Flyes")
This exercise works the rear (posterior) deltoids and the middle traps. Secondary stress is applied to the forearms.
Grab 2 light dumbbells. Bend over at the waist with your feet shoulder width apart. Keep a slight bend in the knees to prevent stain on the lower back. Hold the dumbbells at arms length in front of you with the palms of your hands facing each other. Keep a slight bend in your elbows.
Using your upper back strength, slowly raise the dumbbells to the back and upwards in a semicircular arc as far as you can. Hold this position for a second to maximize the peak contraction in the rear deltoids. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. Repeat.
Tips - to really isolate your deltoids you can do this exercise lying face down on a high exercise bench. This will eliminate any body motion.
Calf Machine Shoulder Shrugs
This exercise is excellent for isolating the trapezius muscles.
Get in position on a standing calf raise machine, as if you were going to do a set of calf raises. Keep your legs straight and lower your shoulders down. You will feel your traps stretch, hold this position for a second. Shrug your shoulders upward and squeeze your traps at the top. Hold this position for a second. Repeat.
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