When The Darknight Rises came out back in the summer of 2012, there was a revolution. It wasn’t a political revolution, nor was it a cultural revolution.
There was a physical revolution - a revolution of the trapezius.
That’s right, I said it.
This revolution came about as a result of the actor Tom Hardy’s physique while playing the role of Bane (the antagonist of the film). Let me show you how Tom Hardy was looking around the time in two other films, Bronson and Warrior, which came out 4 years and 1 years before The Dark Night Rises, respectively.
Honestly, this clip doesn’t do him justice, but you get the idea. Tom Hardy’s traps are HUGE.
During my first bulk in a very very long time, the desire to attain those kind of traps is there alright. I mean, come on, that beastly-look is nothing to scoff at.
With enough dumbbell rows and shrugs, I’m sure my trapezius can grow to that level in time. However, I’m not one to obsess over isolation movements. Call me tacky or think I’m a self-proclaimed fitness guru, but I’m looking for something more functional. Yes, I can hear the mobs coming to my house right now, yelling “functional exercise is BULLSHIT!”
I guess I just want to stick to compound movements, get more bang for my buck, and feel as if my exercises translate more-so to “real-life” movement.
That got me thinking – what group of men “naturally” have the biggest traps? Who has a bulky neck, yet doesn’t necessarily train endlessly with isolation movements? Well, I looked towards various sports and athletes for my answer.
Strongman = Big Traps
Without having to bead around the bush, I can tell you that those who participate in strongman competitions have some MONSTROUS traps. Let me show you some examples.
Each of these dudes shown are current or former strongmen, and they ALL have huge traps and fat necks to show for it.
If we take a closer look at what’s involved in strongman competitions, it’s fairly evident as to why these guys get their trapezius so built. With help from the strongman Wikipedia page, we can see what these athletes perform:
- Atlas Stones
- Axle Press
- Car Flip
- Dumbbell Press
- Frame Carry
- Log Press
- Tire Flip
Now, those aren’t all of the events these guys perform, but it is a considerable list of strongman events. More importantly, each of these events places a large amount of stress of the trapezius.
To break it down, each of those events contain at least one of the following: a deadlift-like pull, a shrug, or a static hold. The atlas stone event requires the competitor to first lift the stone (e.g., deadlift-like pull) and then load it on top of a platform (e.g., shrug). The log press and axle press resemble any other overhead press, which typically requires the lifter to shrug his or her shoulders. The frame carry simply involves a static hold. This is just to show a few examples.
Just to clarify, deadlifts, shrugs, and static holds each involve the trapezius.
The weight of the barbell tries to yank the arms off of the lifter’s body during the deadlift, if it weren’t for the trapezius isometrically contracting and holding them onto the back. The weight used during a static hold would do the same thing – rip the arms off of the lifter’s body – but the trapezius again isometrically contracts to keep the arms attached. The importance of the shrug is a bit more obvious – as the lifter shrugs, the traps contract. No traps means no shrugs.
Because the sport of strongman involves the three movements (deadlift, shrug, and static hold) so much, it is evident as to why the trapezius muscles of these competitors are so damn huge.
The Movements for Huge Traps
I’m sure it doesn’t take becoming a professional strongman to have awesome traps, as made apparent by Tom Hardy (seriously, how would he have time for that?). But I know most of you guys train, and train hard – it shouldn’t be too difficult to include a couple of strongman-like movements in your training regime.
Choose one exercise from each category, include it in your program, and you’re good to go.
- Deadlift exercises: conventional deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, trap-bar deadlifts, RDLs, stiff-legged deadlifts, sandbag lifts
- Shrug exercises: plain ol’ barbell shrugs, power cleans, sandbag clean, atlas stone lifts, overhead presses of any kind
- Static hold exercises: dumbbell static holds, barbell static holds, farmer’s carries, suitcase carries, wheelbarrow walks
There you have it folks. You don’t need to be a full-time actor or a professional strongman to get huge traps. With a few simple tweaks in your program, you can get traps like Bane.