Bigger, Stronger Traps: My top 3 Moves

Lu Xiaojun
Lu Xiaojun – one of my favourite Olympic Lifters

 

#1. Snatch and Clean Pulls + Shrugs: If you really want to improve the size and strength of your traps, just take up Olympic Weightlifting. Oly lifters have some of the most impressive backs imaginable. The sport is extremely technical however, and I wouldn’t suggest trying it without a coach; but clean and snatch pulls are a great start and extremely effective in making the trapezius grow.

#2. Dumbbell Rows + Shrugs on an Incline Bench at Varying Angles: The trapezius does more than just shrug –  it elevates, depresses, retracts, and rotates the scapula, or shoulder blade. Performing the rows and shrugs at varying angles will ensure more of the traps are being hit – not just the upper fibers.

#3. Farmers Walks + Shrugs: Farmers walks are excellent at developing the core muscles, and so long as you are standing up straight with you your shoulder blades pulled back, your traps will take most of the beating.

 

There are plenty of other exercises that are effective at developing the traps, but these are 3 of my favourites – and from my experience the most effective. You must have noticed I add shrugs at the end of each move, and incorporate time under tension every now and again. I do this when I want to put extra focus on those suckers and I vary the reps from 3-8 depending on what I am pulling.

Keep Moving!

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Jacked Up Calves

Calf Muscles

Lately I have been totally neglecting an important muscle group that I used to hit all the time – calves.

By the time I am done my leg workout, the last thing I feel like doing is working on my calves. There’s just something about working the not-so-big muscles at the end of a heavy workout that bores the crap out of me, and I often head into it half assed, or not at all (shaking my head in shame right now). With that said, I have to change my approach and once again get excited about making those calves grow.

One of the rules of training is to exercise any lagging body parts first in your workout. Instead of waiting until I am exhausted after my workout; I am going to start training my calves first thing while I’m fresh. I can foresee this being hard for me because I’m that girl who will race you to the squat if it’s free, so putting that second will be challenging.

Also, I know that calves respond nicely to high volume. I normally won’t do anything less than 20 reps at a time when training calves and perform anywhere between 4-6 sets. That’s not to say I am going super light with the weight, I still want to make it as heavy as possibly while still being able to effectively go through the full range of motion and emphasize a squeeze at the top of each rep; if I can’t do this, I have gone too heavy (I’m talking to those people who load up 5 plates a side on the standing calf press, like wtf?).

The Gastrocnemius and the Soleus are the two major muscles of the posterior leg. Together they make up that nice bulge and run the entire length of the lower leg, connecting behind the knee and at the heel. The Gastrocnemius crosses both the knee and ankle joint, while the soleus just crosses the ankle joint. This tells me that I need to be training my calves from both a standing and seated position; hence the standing and seated calf press machines.

On another note, I’m big on angles. I know that slightly angling my toes inwards will emphasize outer portion of my calves, and turning them slightly outwards will emphasize the inner portion. I used to make the mistake of performing calf raises on extreme angles, but I have come to learn that this will prevent me from achieving maximal calf activation and likely puts excess strain on my ligaments. With that said, do not over angle your feet, or don’t bother using that technique at all; everything will be hit while keeping the toes straight forward anyways.

In my defense, I may not currently stick around to work my calves at the gym, but I do focus on them often while walking and standing. You really don’t need external weight to make those puppies grow; body weight will work wonders too.

For whatever reason, I have always been one to walk on my tip-toes, specifically while making dinner or concentrating on something while standing. I also love playing with my gate while walking and will push forcefully off the balls on my feet (especially while walking uphill) to really get my calves involved. These techniques have resulted in strong calves without the heavy weight. It also allows me to train them more frequently, which is also a great way to make them grow since your calves are great at handling high volume and frequency.

Try this Calf workout with me and let’s see if we can make some gains:

  1. Bodyweight standing calf raise 1 x 20
  2. Standing Calf Raise Machine 5 x 20-30
  3. Seated Calf 5 x 20-30
  4. Single Leg Body Weight Calf Raise (do not bend knee and use one finger to balance yourself on an external object) 2 x 20-30 each leg

Note: Do not bounce or jerk the weight at the bottom of the movement. Each rep should be done with control; slow descend (negative), full stretch, and full contraction (squeeze) at the top.

My Top 5 Glute Building Exercises

Blast your buns with these 5 glute building exercises!

1) Step ups

Step ups

2) Split Squats

Split Squat

3) Single Leg Glute Bridge

single leg glute bridge

4) Hip Thrusters

Hip Thruster

5) Hip Abduction

Hip Abduction

The gluteus maximus is the bodies largest muscle, and the most superficial of the 3 gluteal muscles; gluteus medius and minimus are the other muscles that make up your rear. Glute max extends and laterally rotates the thigh at the hip, while glute med abducts, laterally and medially rotates the thigh. Gluteus minimus also abducts and medially rotates the thigh at the hip.

Ofcourse other exercises such as squats, lunges, kickbacks, goodmornings, and deadlifts also work the glutes. Definintely incorportate those in your rountine as well as the exercises listed above for a rock hard rear!