Let me introduce you to 'The Hise Shrug'
This exercise is RARELY used if at all by anyone and will be really lucky to see anyone doing it in the gym nowadays, but its more effective than other shrug movements done to work the trapezius muscle or 'traps' as they are commonly referred to as.
See the diagram for a image of the trapezius muscles.
The Hise shrug was invented by a Mr Joseph Curtis Hise, who has been known as 'The father of American weight training'. He also invented the 20 rep deep breathing squat which I will cover in another post sometime.
Now as I said, this movement is forgotten about and many do the barbell shrug, upright rows, dumbbell shrug in each hand, smith machine shrugs or other machine shrugs and they do work, you will gain well useing those methods but the Hise shrug is more effective [From my experience] of isolating the trapezius muscle VS those other methods and thats simply because you aren't useing your arms/hands as the link to lift the weight and many times that link becomes your weak link and you can easily tire them before the traps and stop the set short which is limiting growth .. why take it 50%-80% when you can go the whole way?
To perform the Hise shrug is very simple. You have the barbell placed at a height you would use it for a squat and thats placed behind the shoulders, as in a standard squat. You next simply SHRUG the shoulders upwards and than down .. thats ONE rep of the Hise shrugs. This is why its better than the other methods to work the traps as the weight is on the traps and your shrugging the weight DIRECTLY as apposed to useing the weak link of the arms to get the weight upwards [Shrugged].
Below is a description of the exercise as it was done all them years ago
Originally, rather light weights were thought to be best, but recently very heavy weights have proven to be better. You will, therefore, have to have loading standards for your bar as you may reach 600 or 700 pounds or even more in this exercise. You will start out with rather light weights however, and gradually work up, as there is the possibility of strain if you start out with very heavy weights. Most fellows will do well to start with about 100 pounds until they have learned the correct movements and positions.
You take the weight on the shoulders as if you were doing the regular squat. Then, standing with the feet in solid position you take a deep breath-always striving to breathe into the upper part of the chest, as high as possible while shrugging the shoulders upward as high as you can. You will also tense the front of the neck muscles as this greatly aids in lifting the chest higher, causing you to make quite a face. You will make every effort to breathe as deeply as possible. Then breathe out and sag down, then go through the same procedure again, and so on until you complete 20 repetitions. You will probably, at times, find it helpful to work up to 30 and even 40 repetitions. Most men perform about 3 sets of this exercise. However this will be governed by the amount of energy you have to expend. Some men find that (page 40) they like to rock slightly forward on the toes when performing this exercise, however it is not necessary.When you reach heavy weights you will find that you are not able to shrug the bar very high. Mr. Hise says that this varies in different people and is not too important as long as you are shrugging it as high as you can. Sometimes it may raise 2 inches, but with others possibly only about a half inch or so.
Today you could go with 1-3 sets of 12-15 reps or whatever you desire as everyone is different and uses different training methods.
I do 2-3 sets of this exercise useing the heaviest weight I can and hold it in the max contracted position until I cant hold it anylonger and have to lower down. This is max contraction training and it works VERY WELL indeed but you use whatever methods you like and feel works best for you.
Give the exercise a fair go and you will notice in the weeks ahead that your traps will grow. I have had decent sized traps but with this it has made them comeout more and allot of this is due to the fact it removes the weak link of the arms and targets the traps directly while also enableing one to use HEAVIER weights than with the arms alone .. REMEMBER THAT as its heavier weights on a proggressive overload basis that increase strength and than size.
Let me know how they work for you.
Special thanks to .....
Rader Master Bodybuilding and Weight Gaining System by Peary Rader as pages 39-40 were used to describe the old way of doing the exercise.First written in 1946 and updated in 1956.
Thanks to upload.wikipedia.org for the Trapezius image.