Shrug it Off! Time under Tension (TUT) Training for Big Traps

By Aaron Hallett

If you are looking for a different way to train your traps, this will liven up the workout using a principle popularised by Charles Polquin. Rather than smash through a high number of reps on shrugs, this technique emphasises the amount of time the muscle is spent in under tension.

bodybuilder doing shrugs in the gym

Now, the time spent under tension for the trap muscles is two-fold as you have the positive contraction at the top of the movement as you try and bring the shoulders up to the ears, followed by resistance during the downward pull of gravity as the traps are stretched during the negative portion of the movement.

My variation of the TUT principle for shrugs is to hold the contraction at the top for 5 seconds and then to hold it in the negative for a further 5 seconds. This is counted as one rep. On the negative hold really feel the tug on the traps; it should feel similar to when you are deadlifting.

You will need a training partner for this as, when dealing with a good level of resistance, the temptation is to count out the seconds in quick fashion or to let the contraction slip and see the shoulders lowering.

Each set consists of 5 reps: 5 seconds in contraction and 5 seconds in negative hold, i.e.:

  • up 5 seconds, down 5 seconds
  • up 5 seconds, down 5 seconds
  • up 5 seconds, down 5 seconds
  • up 5 seconds, down 5 seconds
  • up 5 seconds, down 5 seconds

This is one set. I generally do 3 sets of the above and, after the last rep, I will have my training partners strip a plate off each side and complete one rep extra per each plate stripped off, i.e.:

180kg

  • up 5 seconds, down 5 seconds
  • up 5 seconds, down 5 seconds
  • up 5 seconds, down 5 seconds
  • up 5 seconds, down 5 seconds
  • up 5 seconds, down 5 seconds

140kg

  • up 5 seconds, down 5 seconds

100kg

  • up 5 seconds, down 5 seconds

Good luck with this! Keep it strict on the time keeping and keep those shoulders shrugging high!

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.