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How to Perform Breathing Shrugs

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If you are looking to stimulate trap growth in a new way, and don’t mind pain, then listen up. Breathing shrugs are a brutal, painful and effective way of punishing your trap muscles, forcing them to respond and grow.

I recommend using straps (preferable Versa Gripps) for this training approach, unless you have super human grip. You do not want your gripping ability to interfere with the best trap set(s) you’ve had all year.

How to Perform Breathing Shrugs

  1. Weight. Choose a weight that allows you to barbell or dumbbell shrug approximately 15 to 20 reps before you reach failure.
  2. Shrug Until Failure. Start performing shrug reps until you reach failure. Now comes the difficult part.
  3. Breathing Reps. Once you hit failure (or near failure), continue to hold the bar and take 3 deep breaths. Now perform as many additional reps as possible. Repeat this pattern of breathing and knocking out reps until you hit 40 total reps.

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What to Expect During a Breathing Shrug Set

Not only will breathing shrugs blast your traps into oblivion, but they will also tax your forearms, upper back, glutes, etc. I often get amazing forearm pumps from breathing shrugs, even with straps.

By rep 20 you will start cussing. By rep 25 you will be visited by Jimmy Hoffa and Elvis. By rep 30 Jesus will start talking to you. By rep 35 you will think you’ve actually passed out and hit the ground.

It is best to use breathing shrugs at the end of a back or trap workout, as a pump set. Perform 1-2 sets of breathing shrugs, and no more.  The point of breathing shrugs is to destroy a muscle or muscle groups that you’ve already trained. Too many high intensity sets like this can be counter-productive.

To discuss this trap training technique, please visit the Muscle and Brawn Forum.

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