The classic Arnold physique, with ultra-wide lats, chiseled pecs, cannonball delts, and Swiss Alps biceps, nearly doubled your previous size and earned you instant respect in the gym.
But look at your upper-body reflection in the mirror, and something seems … missing.
Those stubborn trap muscles never seem to tag along when you’re cranking out cable rows. And a few high-volume shrug sets per week don’t seem to be doing that scrawny neck any justice.
Don’t blame genetics or settle for narrow traps.
Dedicating an entire workout to these hard-gaining muscles can add to the illusion that your traps are wider and buffer than they actually are! A finishing touch or “cheat sheet,” of sorts.
That’s where Jeremy Ethier’s Trap Workout becomes the gain chaser’s savior. Let’s take a look at this cutting-edge aesthetic trap workout for a thicker neck and traps!
About the Creator – Jeremy Ethier
Jeremy Ethier fits the textbook definition for “21st-century trainer” in the best way possible.
Founder of the fitness stronghold, BuiltWithScience, Ethier’s soaring online popularity is on par with the legendary Jeff Nippard, Steve Cook, and the Buff Dudes.
But how did this 30-year-old athlete land over three million YouTube subscribers, 318+ million video views, and features in the coveted Men’s Health and Women’s Fitness magazines?
It might have something to do with this:
- FMS (Functional Movement Systems) certifications
- NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certifications
- A kinesiology background and a love for scientific research
- Engaging tips & tricks articles for guaranteed gains
- Videos about shedding belly fat, improving posture, and sculpting massive biceps
And Ethier doesn’t flaunt his ripped physique in his workouts with the ol’, “Trust me, it works.” Or fill his articles with false promises about packing on 15 pounds in a month (yadda yadda).
He resorts to his impressive educational background.
Yes, Ethier does the “unthinkable.” He backs nearly every exercise, rep range, and hand position with peer-reviewed studies to answer the hard-hitting “why” questions.
But is Jeremy Ethier the real deal? Or is he yet another snake oil salesman promising the “cure” for lagging gains?
Judge for yourself!
What is Jeremy Ethier’s Trap Workout?
Not the classic shrugs-only trap workout, that’s for sure!
Jeremy Ethier’s kinesiology background weaves its way into every section of this aesthetic trap workout. Designed for anyone craving peaking traps, this workout centers around four goals:
- Sculpting a massive, well-defined, and powerful upper body
- Nurturing the often forgotten mid and lower traps that aren’t visible unless shirtless
- Improving posture
- Preventing injuries (particularly shoulder impingement)
This simple four-exercise routine (that’s it!) divides the complex trap muscles into their three natural sections — upper, middle, and lower — without leaving any behind to suffer or stall.
Want to build up the rest of your body? Check out this full aesthetic workout routine.
Okay, But What is It?
Are you ready for a lightning-fast rundown?
To crush through Jeremy Ethier’s trap workout flawlessly and build seriously intimidating traps, here’s what you need to know:
- It wedges nicely into a pre-existing bodybuilding split, but you can dedicate an entire gym session to particularly finicky traps or start a high-volume trap specialization routine.
- Ethier supports his trap exercise suggestions with ten scientific studies.
- You’ll need a barbell, cable machine, rack, and bench.
- It should take no more than 30 minutes to perform this routine (15 if the gym is empty).
The good news: If you find this workout even remotely disappointing, you didn’t have to revamp or sacrifice your entire routine to give ‘er a try. Drop it or tweak it, and then move along!
Remember, this workout is purely trap-focused. Don’t abandon the rest of your body! To make the best gains that sculpts an overall superhero physique, check out Superhero X12, our top recommended program for beginners that want a full body transformation without hating their life.
Jeremy Ethier Trap Workout Details
Brace yourself … The Jeremy Ethier trap workout can be 12-16 sets of pure misery if your previous “trap work” was deadlift day or a few shrug finisher sets to end back day.
Now, here’s what this scientifically-backed trap workout looks like:
Day 1 – Trap Day
- Above-the-Knee Rack Pulls – 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps (with a heavy weight)
- Barbell Shrugs – 3-4 sets x 10-12 reps (with a wider grip and shoulder blade squeeze)
- Prone Reverse Flyes – 3-4 sets x 10-12 reps*
- Prone Y’s – 3-4 sets x 10-15 reps*
* = These exercises target the stereotypically weak mid and lower traps that classic trap workouts overlook. Perform these exercises with your bodyweight for now before adding light weights.
Note: If bodyweight exercises aren’t exactly your forte, you can swap out the prone Y’s for a cable machine variation — with a light weight, of course.
Day 1 – Trap Day (REVAMP)
Again, as top-notch as Jeremy Ethier’s mass-building routines are, they can also be quite vague for beginners still learning the ropes. Rest times? %1RM? Any guidance for the noobs?
If you want to guarantee towering traps without overdoing (or going too tame in the rack), here’s a little extra help:
- Above-the-Knee Rack Pulls – 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps @ 80-85% 1RM (60-90 seconds)
- Barbell Shrugs – 3-4 sets x 10-12 reps @ 70-75% 1RM (60-90 seconds)
- Prone Reverse Flyes – 3-4 sets x 10-12 reps @ 70-75% 1RM (60-90 seconds)
- Prone Y’s – 3-4 sets x 10-15 reps @ 65-75% 1RM (60-90 seconds)
Since we’re aiming for mass with this routine, we went with a modest 60-90 second rest between sets. Long enough for muscle recovery without leaving you in the gym for an hour or more.
Feel free to customize this routine as you see fit!
Jeremy Ethier Trap Workout Pros
1. Every Exercise Has an Explanation
When you start sprinkling unconventional exercises into a specialization routine (such as prone Y’s, in this scenario), there’s a whirlwind of questions racing through your mind.
Why? How? With what equipment?
Hats off to Ethier on this one.
Not only does he break-down the complex trapezius anatomy and physiology, but he also explains why each exercise made the cut and how to perform it for maximum gains … like:
- The knee-level rack pull’s inspiration (turns out, this is the deadlift range that best targets the upper trap muscles)
- Performing shrugs for brute-force gains (a slightly wider grip and squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top)
- How to position the hands during prone reverse flyes (for anyone keeping track at home, thumbs-up is the gold standard)
- Why prone Y’s are worth doing, even with minimal resistance (hint: it has to do with shoulder stability and overall posture)
The detailed pictures pairing each exercise are merely bonuses!
2. Goes Above & Beyond the Average Shrug Workout
Towering traps are a clear “I take the gym seriously” marker. But most online trap workouts suggest only three exercises: Shrugs, shrugs, and more shrugs!
The shrug overload can certainly sculpt massive upper traps — the only zone that matters from the traditional bodybuilder’s perspective. Yet, it also leaves the mid and lower traps to suffer.
This Jeremy Ethier workout goes three-for-three, with each zone targeted near equally:
- Upper: Above-the-knee rack pulls & barbell shrugs
- Mid: Prone reverse flyes
- Lower: Prone Y’s
It might not feed your shrug appetite, but it’s undoubtedly a total-trap workout that’ll build those stubborn neck, upper back, and mid-back muscles.
3. Three Ways to Implement It
It seems like every digital fitness influencer holds the “secret” to massive gains. The before and after results are challenging to argue with — if it worked magic for him, then it has to for me too!
Oh, you sweet summer child.
Routine success depends on zillions of factors, including muscle type, diet, genetics, the whole shebang. That’s why Jeremy Ethier’s trap workout considers three “goal” scenarios:
- A pure trap focus: Perform this workout on its own by squeezing it into a split.
- A little extra TLC: Add a few trap sets here and there into your shoulder and back days.
- Igniting trap volume: Use a trap specialization routine instead.
There’s no sense in dedicating an entire 30-minute workout to those normally hard-gaining traps if you’re satisfied with their growth or dreading the extreme: “No-neck syndrome.”
4. The Scientific Backing is Unmatched
Let’s face it: There are thousands of trap workout routines littering the internet, most of which seem like a “roll of the dice” when selecting exercises and rep ranges. The blind trust is real.
But with this routine, you don’t have to look at his credentials, shrug your shoulders (heh), and take his word for it. He uses ten peer-reviewed studies to explain things like:
- Why the barbell shrug is still the king trap exercise
- How the thumb position impacts mid trap activation
- Which lower trap exercise rules the roost
- Why heavy-weight rack pulls offer the most upper trap growth potential
Ethier’s no B.S. approach might seem “over the top” or fall on deaf ears if all you care about is the results. But it’s certainly appreciated by the skeptical folks who’ve fallen into that trap before.
Jeremy Ethier Trap Workout Cons
1. Misses Those Trap “Favorites”
If your only trap routine expectations were a shrug variation, you’d be in your glory with this Jeremy Ethier workout. But that’s setting the bar unbelievably low.
This four-exercise workout variety also misses some of the trap favorites, like:
- Farmer’s walks/carries
- Face pulls
- Dumbbell or kettlebell shrugs
- Lateral raises
Of course, this is just a nitpicky complaint since this trap workout is in addition to your current split routine, and you’re likely already cranking out most of these on shoulder or back day anyways.
And if it’s a deal-breaker, just customize the routine a bit to add them.
2. No Exercise Substitutes Revealed
There are dozens of reasons why this routine might not meet your expectations exactly as it’s designed — injuries, limited equipment, or disappointing exercise variety, to name a few.
Yes, you might need to swap in an exercise or two (which is totally normal!).
Unfortunately, Jeremy Ethier didn’t include any exercise substitutions in his trap workout routine, meaning you’ll have to slap on your “researcher” cap and find alternatives yourself.
This is one of the reasons we love Superhero X12. When you sign-up for the program, not only do you get access to 75+ full HD video demonstrations for all the exercises mentioned, but you get instant access to the Exercise Substitution Cheat Sheet that shows you the best exercise swaps you can make if something isn’t your style.
Here are a few recommendations if you’re in a rush:
- Above-the-knee rack pulls: Standard deadlifts, rack pulls (using blocks or plates)
- Barbell shrugs: Dumbbell, kettlebell, behind-the-back, or upright row varieties
- Prone reverse flyes: Face pulls, bent-over rows (with elbows poked out)
- Prone Y’s: With a cable pulley machine, rear delt cable raise, chin-ups
Unless you have to switch the routine around a bit, stick to Ethier’s recommendations. Otherwise, you could be messing with your results.
Frequently Asked Questions (About Trap Training)
Because the trap muscles often take the backburner or become lumped in with back and shoulder training sessions, finding the correct balance doesn’t always come naturally.
Now, here are the answers to those lingering trap training questions:
What’s the Best Exercise for Traps?
Without a doubt, the best exercise for traps is the classic barbell shrug, which can sculpt monstrous upper traps, straighten slouched posture, and potentially relieve neck tension. But the three-zoned trap muscles are difficult to hit with a solo exercise.
Other top-ranked trap exercises that should make the cut in your mass-building routine include rack pulls, rear delt cable raises, face pulls, upright rows, and lying dumbbell shrugs!
How Many Times a Week Should You Workout Traps?
You should work out traps at least twice per week, though this opens the door to overtraining if you aren’t careful. Leave at least 48-72 hours between trap workouts, cap sets to about 12-20 per week, and divide those exhausting trap sets equally between shoulder and back day (if possible).
Pro tip: End back and shoulder days with traps to drain what’s left in the tank without sacrificing proper form or row/shoulder press PRs. Many bodybuilders swear by hitting traps 3-4 times per week, though higher frequency also means dropping workout volume (fewer sets, less weight).
When Should I Workout My Traps?
You should workout your traps at the end of a resistance training workout because tiring them out too soon in a session can ruin your form during other non-trap exercises. For example, the traps offer crucial support during shoulder presses, deadlifts, cable rows, and lateral raises.
Unless you’re dedicating an entire workout session to this muscle group to build monster traps, save those shrugs, reverse flyes, rack pulls, and Y’s for the end.
How Do I Make My Traps Grow?
To make your traps grow, it’s essential to choose exercises more strategically and put those stubborn-growers under more tension. A more traps-focused approach requires:
- More than your classic barbell shrugs and deadlifts
- Longer time under tension (TUT), ideally a 3-5-second pause at the top
- Slow and intentional reps with solid form
- 8-12 reps per set
- 12-20 sets per week
- 2-4 trap workouts per week
- Upper, middle, and lower trap exercises; otherwise, you ignore ⅔ of your traps
The traps as a whole will suffer if you’re doing nothing more than front, behind-the-back, dumbbell, and cable shrugs.
Are Shrugs Good?
Shrugs are more than just good; they’re the “gold standard” for sculpting towering upper traps and a noticeably thicker neck. Classic barbell shrugs do the impossible:
- Build neck, shoulder, and upper back muscles
- Straighten out slumped-over posture (to an extent, of course)
- Make your shoulders look wider, thicker, and buffer than they are to the naked eye
- Aid in injury prevention (specifically shoulder impingement)
- Nourish upper-body stability
Even more crucial than doing shrugs is doing them right. Don’t forget the slight knee bend, wide bar grip, shoulder blade squeezing (no rolled-back shoulders), and brief pause at the top.
Is It Better To Train Traps With Back Or Shoulders?
It’s better to train traps with back and shoulders (not or) if you’re looking to sculpt the upper, middle, and lower traps semi-equally.
Hit your upper traps on shoulder day since they’re already warmed up, performing dumbbell shrugs and rack pulls. Target those hard-to-reach middle and lower traps on back day with wide-grip rows, incline dumbbell shrugs, and Y-raises.
Jeremy Ethier Aesthetic Trap Workout Conclusion
Jeremy Ethier’s aesthetic trap workout is unorthodox and defies all common sense — both in the best ways possible. In short: It’s not the traditional trap workout that’s a shrug variation jumble.
It’s explained thoroughly (no blind trust here!), infuses three (rare) non-shrug exercises, can fit seamlessly into your current routine, and leaves no questions unanswered.
But like all routines, it has some flaws.
Your favorite trap exercises — like face pulls and farmer’s carries — are nowhere to be found. And, hopefully, you don’t need an exercise swap (because, again, there are none).
So … what’s the consensus here?
This Jeremy Ethier workout is a solid starting point for aesthetic traps, a tighter-fitting shirt, and better posture all-around. But don’t be afraid to customize the routine to better match your training!
- Add or swap in trap exercises that complete your trap day “holy grail.”
- Divide these exercises into two, three, or four weekly sessions.
- Adjust the routine to match equipment availability, past injuries, and more!
If your current trap workout is non-existent, moonlighting as deadlift day, or includes little more than a few barbell shrugs, we 100% recommend this Jeremy Ethier routine to get you started.