Ask any strength-training professional worth his weight in iron plates what the best exercise for working your trapezius muscle is, and he or she will likely just shrug. Which is exactly the right answer. That’s why this workout is anchored with not one but two shrugging movements, followed by a strategic isolation exercise and a hardcore finisher.
The workout begins with the barbell shrug (which you can switch out from time to time for the Smith-machine variation). Don’t make the rookie mistake of rolling your shoulders during reps — simply lift your shoulders up toward your ears, then down.
Next up is the dumbbell shrug, which gives you a slightly different angle of pull than the barbell version because the weights are at your sides. You’ll follow that with the prone incline-bench barbell raise to hit the middle to lower areas of the triangle-shaped trapezius. Finally, to make sure every last fiber has been worked to its max, you’ll do the farmer’s walk, which hits the traps and forearms — to do it, simply grab a pair of heavy dumbbells and walk the gym until your forearms give way.
After a few months of doing this routine once or twice a week, you should be able to add some noticeable size, filling out that area between your shoulders and neck. And when some newbie at the gym asks you how you did it, you’ll know how to respond.