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Big Trap Training: Heavy Shrugs WITHOUT the Back Strain

Build Big Traps Without Hurting Your Back

I LOVE all forms of Back Training. Rows, Pull-ups, Chins, Pull-overs, Shrugs…You name it, I include some form of it in my training.

However, up until a few months back, one movement that many people do, I was cutting out of my regular routine.

This lift was Barbell Shrugs.

You see, I have a history of lower back issues, and a handful of times over the years when I would go heavy on Barbell Shrugs, I have tweaked my back.

So, I eliminated them from my program and stuck with Dumbbell Shrugs, because the weight was positioned at my sides and they felt better on my back.

Unfortunately, it is hard to go heavy enough on Dumbbell Shrugs to really shock the Traps into growing. As I mentioned in this post on Trap Training, my 100-lb dumbbells have begun to feel like warm-up weights after doing them so long, so I added Bands to the equation to make the Traps work harder.

Watch the Video: Band-Intensified Shrugs

Click Image to View Video

The method shown above is great because it makes the Traps work harder without causing additional stress to your back.

Today I am going to show you another way you can take your Shrugs to the next level, without hurting your back. This way is so basic, I can’t believe I never thought of it. This variation is simply Shrugs with Farmer’s Walk Handles.

Shrugs with Farmer’s Walk Handles

Provided your back is strong enough to pull the weight off the floor, you should be able to perform this lift safely. For me, at least, I can keep my core stable enough while performing this lift so that my back feels no unnecessary strain.

This is a great way to perform more weight in the Shrug. While it is almost impossible to find 200+ lb Dumbbells, if your gym has Farmers Walk Handles, you should have no trouble getting to that weight in the Shrug with this technique, plus, it is a great way to work your Grip Strength.

All the best in your training,


Powerful Traps are very important for Braced Bends, and particularly important for bar bends started with the Row Technique over the Knee. For more information on Braced Bending, check out our DVD – Braced Bending: How to Destroy Everything in Your Path

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One Response to “Big Trap Training: Heavy Shrugs WITHOUT the Back Strain”

  1. Josh Mac Says:

    Good ideas. I use a farmers handle for db rows too.

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