So, you want to look like a badass?

Well, chances are any badass you can think of has some decent muscle. That’s a no brainer.

I don’t know of any skinny, low confidence badasses walking around that make people scream “MAN I WANT TO BE YOU!”. With that being said you need to be hitting up the gym and making progress on growing your muscles. With bigger muscles also comes more confidence in yourself.

If you aren’t sure where to start, check out the free programs we offer on our site and youtube channel.

I remember when I was younger, I automatically looked at two things on a guy who I thought looked like a fricken unit. They were his arms and his traps/neck. Years later, I still do the same thing, and I’ve been trying to increase my traps and neck size now more than ever!

In this article, we are going to cover what it takes to build a big neck and traps to look like a monster.

Why train the neck and traps?

Aside from aesthetics having some strong traps and shoulders only will benefit you in any strength sport even more so in strongman. In strongman, there are lots of carrying events as well as deadlifts. One of the most common events in strongman is going to be the traditional farmer carry. Basically, deadlifting two handles up and walking with them for a prescribed distance.

This will work the traps a lot as they are the primary muscles keeping the objects afloat while walking. There are lots of different carry variations as well (sandbag carries, frame carries, stone carries, keg carries, etc…).

As mentioned above the traps are involved with deadlifts as well, so building a strong upper back (traps & neck) will only help you deadlift more.

Another reason you may want some bigger traps and neck muscles would be if you play contact sports that involve possible neck impact. These could be sports such as football, rugby, and BJJ/combat sports.

I’ve recently gotten into trap/neck training due to strongman for specific events and because I’ve been doing BJJ for almost a year now. It’s been shown that having a stronger neck will help cushion the blows taken in these sports and potentially prevent neck injuries.

However, it is cautioned that a larger neck and higher BMI could result in sleep apnea (just something to watch out for) this is all goal depending and for the most part I don’t recommend any direct neck work or exercises for the average person, but I will in the above instances or sports. I believe your neck will grow just fine from doing the exercises provided in the above video.

Joey Szatmary Traps

Biggest mistakes when it comes to trap & neck training:

One of the biggest mistakes (as mentioned in the video above) I see people making is they only focus on doing upper trap work. This is most commonly associated with doing tons of shrugs.

Do shrugs have their place? Sure.

But they shouldn’t be the only exercise you to do.

When we look at the upper back and neck, there are tons of other muscles that need to be worked on to give that jacked and stacked look to your physique. I talk about all of these exercises above which have been my personal favorite recently.

How often should you train traps and neck?

Like anything else, this will vary from person to person. I think the traps and shoulders can be trained numerous times a week as you build it up over time. I would say anywhere in the 1-3x per week will be a good place to start.

If you are deadlifting and overhead pressing as the main movement that would count as 1x already right there. I typically like to deadlift and overhead press at the beginning of the week and then hit smaller accessory movements later as the week goes on.

Reps and sets:

  1. When it comes to strength, I like to stay anywhere in the 4-7 rep range for 4-5 working sets.
  2. When it comes to hypertrophy, I like to stay anywhere in the 8-12 rep ranges for 3-4 working sets.

My 5 Top Trap and Back Exercises

  1. Farmer Walks (2:25 in the video)
  2. Trap Bar Shrugs (3:28 in the video)
  3. Rear Delt Flys (Dumbell or Cable) (4:22 in the video)
  4. Face pulls (5:05 in the video)
  5. Neck Training / Harness (5:38 in the video)


If you want to look like a beast you are going to need some big traps and shoulders. Watch the video above for more information.

Joey Szatmary

Joey Szatmary

Founder of Szat Strength and current Overall 2019 National Heavy Weight Strongman Champion.