Make New Gains: Mass Building Back Shoulders and Traps Workout

Are you bored every time back and shoulders day rolls around? Then this workout is for you. If you have been doing the same routine with little or no results and your current routine has you bored to tears; it’s time to try a new routine.

This basic routine will provide you with new-found gains and is a real mass builder. This routine is challenging, and progression will be the key for you to get results.

This program can be done twice a week on non-consecutive training days. Or it can be done once a week to replace your existing back, shoulder and traps workout. That part is up to you.

What about warm ups?

If you are a beginner do 2-3 sets with a light warm up weight of 10-15 repetitions. Warm ups are just that, warm ups; they should not be too taxing. Start off with warm ups for your back, once you have sufficiently warmed up there is no need to do warm ups for each new exercise.

*See tips below.

Tips for Warming up

Starting off with the deadlift perform 2-3 sets 10-15 reps complete the warm ups and move on to your working sets. Once you move on to military press perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps for warm ups; then continue on to your working sets. *Note allow 1 minute of rest between your warm up sets. You will have to gauge this as to how you feel, but for most beginners this is sufficient.

* For more advanced lifters you will want to do ramp sets. These sets will warm up your CNS and allow you to move heavier weights.

What are ramp sets?

A ramp set is exactly as it implies, you will be ramping up with the weight. For your warm ups you will gradually increase the weight each set until you get to your working weight. Here’s how to do this. Select a weight that you can easily get 8 reps for. You will do 1 set of 8 resting for 1 minute. You will increase the weight slightly and do 1 set for 6 reps, increasing the weight again and do 1 set of 4 reps.


*Working weight 155 lbs

  • 1×8 85 lbs
  • 1×6 125 lbs
  • 1×4 145 lbs
  • 3×10 155 lbs*

Warming up in this fashion will help prepare your CNS for the work ahead. There are a variety of ways to perform ramp sets. If you are going heavier you may choose to include additional ram sets until you get to the working weight.

What about sets and reps?

For this program you will do 3 sets of 10 reps. When you can get all 10 reps on each set, you will increase the weight at your next workout. If you can’t get all 10 reps focus on getting an extra rep until you meet the rep goal. Once you do, add more weight. Your goal should always be progression.

This program is taxing. Focus on a solid 3 sets per exercise. Don’t go overboard and add extra unneeded sets; you will be less likely to give it your all. Three sets of each exercise should be sufficient. Again, focus on getting an extra rep or increasing the weight at each session.

How long rest between exercises and sets?

These exercises are real mass builders as you add more weight to the bar; you may need to increase your rest time between exercises and sets. Rest a minimum of 60-90 seconds between sets. If you find you haven’t quite recovered take a little longer and then hit the next set.
Between exercises rest for 3-5 minutes, again this will depend on your ability to recover and the amount of weight you are lifting.

How do I perform the exercises?

Below is a brief description of the exercises you will be performing.

Deadlift – You will want to stand in front of the bar and place your feet shoulder width apart. Your feet should be ½ way under the bar. Keep your back straight and bend your knees, grab the bar with a little wider than shoulder width grip with an overhand grip. As you grab the bar make sure to keep your hips down, knees bent and your arms locked. Keep your head up as you stand up with the bar, drive through your heels using your legs to stand straight up with your shoulders back. Ultimately the bar should be above your knees. Return to the start position the weights should touch the floor. Repeat for reps.

Bent-Over Barbell Row – Take an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Keep the knees slightly bent and keep your back flat. An easy way to remember this is to stick your butt out like you’re a jockey riding a horse! Keep your head up and eyes forward, pull the bb just below your solar plexus. Keep your elbows flared out as you pull up just below your chest. Really focus on squeezing your shoulder blades at the top of the movement before lowering the bar.

Wide-Grip Chins – With an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder width, grab the
chinning bar. You will want to arch the low back and tilt your head back. Your head should be looking up at the ceiling. Pull yourself up towards the bar, you want your clavicle to touch the bar. Keeping the arch in your lower back, return to the start position.

Standing Dumbbell Press – Stand up tall and keep your core tight. Hold the dumbbells at shoulder level. You will want to keep your elbows pulled back as you press the dumbbells up, in an arc don’t let them touch and return to the start position.

Upright Cable Row – Using a straight bar, attach it to a low pulley on the cable machine. Using an overhand medium grip grab the bar. Stand tall and keep your core tight throughout the movement. Keeping the bar close to your body, pull it up towards your chin while keeping your elbows out. Keeping your elbows higher than your forearms, lead with your elbows and pull the bar to your clavicle. Hold for a count of 3 before slowly lowering the bar.

Barbell Shrug-The bar should be in front of your thighs, this will be your start position. Place your feet shoulder width apart, grabbing the bar with an overhand grip making sure your hands are shoulder width apart as well. shrug your shoulders straight up and try to touch your ears. This is the correct movement; do not roll the shoulders, straight up, hold for a count of 3 before slowly lowering the bar back to the start position.

  • Deadlift 3 sets 10 reps
  • Bent Over Barbell Rows 3 sets 10 reps
  • Wide-Grip Chins 3 sets 10 reps
  • Standing Dumbbell Press 3 sets 10 reps
  • Upright Cable Row 3 sets 10 reps
  • Barbell Shrug 3 sets 10 reps

Workout Tips:

  1. Reminder-do not add extra sets. Although this workout looks simple your goal is progression. The key is to focus on the quality of sets, not the quantity.
  2. Switch your grip. For deadlifts, Bent-Over Barbell Rows and Shrugs try an alternating grip.
  3. I would suggest picking up a pair of lifting straps. Lifting straps will enable you to lift more weight. Please refer to the product review on Versa Gripps for more information on straps.

If you try this workout, let us know what you think. Please leave a comment in the section below.


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