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Develop Your Traps With These Weight Training Lifts The traps, as they are commonly called, are the Trapezius muscles. They connect...

Develop Your Traps With These Weight Training Lifts

The traps, as they are commonly called, are the Trapezius muscles. They connect your back and your neck (to put it simply). Most often they are trained when working out the shoulders or back.

There are only a few exercises you can use to train these muscles. But don't let that put you off. You can achieve massive growth in this are using just a few simple movements. Often it's enough to simply do a few shrugs after your main workout exercises.

The main movements that utilise the traps are the Shrug, and The Upright Row.

The Shrug

These are to be done with dumbbells or a barbell. They can also be done using a smith machine but with less range of motion. They can also be done in front of the body or behind.

They are performed quite simply by grabbing some weight, and shrugging your shoulders! Nothing to it. Some people like to add some variation by rolling their shoulders forwards, then backwards in a circular motion when they shrug. That's why I recommend using dumbells or a barbell instead of the smith machine so you can get the best range and flexibility with the movement. You can stimulate the area more effectively this way.

How it's done:

1. Grab the weight and hold it at arms length in front of your body using an overhand grip

2. Raise your shoulders and try to touch your ears, as high as you can

3. Hold the movement for a bit, then lower slowly and repeat

It's important to do this motion with maximum control so as to avoid straining the muscles of your neck. However, you can really get some heavy weight going as the movement is quite small.

The other great exercise for developing your traps is the Upright Row.

Most often performed as part of a shoulder workout, it's a great way to hit the full shoulder area while getting the traps at the same time.

How it's done:

1. Take a wide grip if you're intending to hit the traps with more intensity.

2. Hold the bar with a wide grip at arms length near your thighs

3. Lift the bar straight up along the line of your body until you get to about the height of your chin

4. Hold for a moment, then lower and repeat

It's important to keep you elbows high so they are higher than the bar throughout the movement.

These 2 exercises, combined with some solid shoulder exercises and back workouts will help you develop the stronger neck and traps muscles you've been looking for.

The Benefits of Doing Pushups In my opinion, pushups are the single most effective exercise for improving total body fitness. They...

The Benefits of Doing Pushups

In my opinion, pushups are the single most effective exercise for improving total body fitness. They offer the benefits of weight lifting, stretching and cardio vascular training all in one exercise. For a beginner, pushups can be very difficult because of how many muscles are involved. Many of which are under trained in the body of a beginner. In fact, even many seasoned bench press veterans have trouble doing high-rep pushup workouts because their secondary and stabilizer muscles are untrained.

Holding the proper form is a great exercise alone, without even performing any repetitions. The pushup form benefits the abdominal muscles in the same way that Arnold Presses benefit the biceps, by simultaneously flexing and stretching. When the lower back muscles contract to stabilize your form, your abdominal muscles are inadvertently stretched. The quadriceps is also relied on heavily to maintain proper form, giving your legs a decent secondary workout.

The actual motion of a pushup trains the chest, triceps and the anterior deltoids, while stretching the biceps and back. Pushups are considered by many people to be the best all-around chest workout. I have found that they are great at increasing muscle size and tone. I have also found that they are easier on the joints than the bench press. Additionally, large pushup workouts are great for circulation and overall cardiovascular health.

When performed in high-repetition workouts, pushups can increase human growth hormone, boosting overall muscle growth. This is the hidden benefit of pushups that many people never discover because they only perform pushups as a supplemental exercise, rather than as a primary chest workout. My article entitled, "Do Pushups to Build Muscle Mass and Boost Metabolism," details how to build up your strength and endurance to completing a 1000-pushup routine. If you plan to use pushups as a primary chest exercise, then I encourage you to perform a lot of sets and reps, and set a goal of completing between 500 and 1000 pushups. Pushups are much more challenging and painful than a standard bench press, but if you commit yourself to them, you can have amazing results.

Pushups were the first bodyweight exercise that I developed any skill at. When I first started doing them, I lost a considerable amount of body fat in a relatively short period of time. This allowed me to start performing other bodyweight exercises that I had previously been unable to perform, such as pullups.

A Few Techniques to Improve Bench Press Performance Tip 1: Pushups One great way to build strength and endurance on a be...

A Few Techniques to Improve Bench Press Performance

Bench Press
Tip 1: Pushups

One great way to build strength and endurance on a bench press is to do pushups every other workout, instead of using weights. When I first began using a flat bench press, I was coming from a world of calisthenic routines such as crunches, pull-ups and pushups. This helped me because my pectoral muscles were trained in the same way long-distance runners train their legs- i.e. light weight, high-rep, long-duration workouts. I seemed that as soon as I became comfortable with any weight, I would be capable of doing entire sets of 8-10 reps shortly thereafter. Pushups are a powerfully effective method for boosting bench press strength and endurance. There are many world-class athletes that swear by pushups alone, and claim to have never incorporated weight training into their routines. I believe them.

Tip 2: Isolation

The bench press is a compound exercise that trains the pectoral muscles, triceps, anterior deltoids and biceps. A great way to boost your overall performance of the compound movement is to isolate the component muscles and train them individually. I would recommend training triceps with the cable/bar on the smith machine because it provides uniform resistance throughout the entire movement of the exercise. In other words, weights always pull towards the ground versus the cable which pulls in the direction opposite of which you are pulling- ensuring constant resistance.

Another isolation method is the butterfly, which stretches and works out the chest all in one motion, similar to the way that incline-curls stretch and flex the biceps in one motion. Butterflies are good to tone/tighten your chest.

One of the more difficult exercises that I would recommend for training the triceps is dips, because dips are a great compound exercise that train the shoulders, back and triceps. Although, they are not my first choice in isolation training because of the secondary/stabilizer muscles that are inadvertently trained, they are a great exercise to boost your bench press performance.

Lastly, I would like to discuss the Arnold Press. I isolation train my shoulders exclusively with the Arnold Press. I have found that the Arnold Press is the best workout for the shoulders because it trains almost the entire shoulder in one motion- and the results come quickly. Although it doesn't train the posterior deltoids, it does a terrific job for the anterior and laterals deltoids. For the sake of the bench press, you should only concern yourself with the lateral and anterior deltoid muscles. Arnold Presses also train the triceps rather well.

Tip 3: Burnout

Burning out on your last set is not a new technique, but I decided to include it on my list of recommendations because it is effective. Essentially what is means is to choose a light weight and do 20-40 repetitions for your last set. If your workout consists of full sets with 185 lbs, then it serve your benefit to drop the weight down to 115 lbs or 95 lbs and burnout on your last set, doing as many repetitions as you can. After finishing a few workouts with a good burnout, you will notice that your muscles feel much tighter. The purpose of this technique is to turn large marshmallow muscles into rock-hard toned muscles.

Tip 4: More Sets, Less Weight

If you have come to a point at which your bench press max has plateaued, a good technique to push you over the edge, and to start making gains again is to perform full sets just beneath your bench press max. It is very common for veteran lifters to be capable of performing ten repetitions of 80-90%% of their max, while only being able to perform one repetition of their max. If you max, for example, somewhere around 205 lbs, then I would suggest doing several sets of 185 lbs, while only maxing one time per week, or every other week. A few weeks of building up core strength near your max will force your max to budge; you can quickly and easily add 5-10% onto your bench press using this method.

Tip 5: Pyramid

When I first began lifting weights, I established a pyramid routine on every single exercise and muscle group. They are good for spearheading strength in every muscle group. Pyramid routines consist of decreasing repetitions as weight increases. For example, begin your bench press with one set of 15 reps with 115 lbs. On your next set, perform 12 reps with 135 lbs. Try a 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 pyramid, adding a comfortable amount of weight on each set. There are two different ways to use a pyramid technique to make progress on your bench press. The first technique is to begin your pyramid at a higher weight, thus forcing every successive set to be performed with a larger amount of weight. The second technique, which is the most effective, is to pyramid back down to your beginning weight, i.e. 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 15. If you perform a large pyramid bench press like this, do not perform a bench press workout more than one time per week.