Get stronger with this trap-building move.

The clean is one of the most versatile lifts, and it’s also fun to do. Athletes use this full-body strength move to improve power. And if your traps are lacking, the clean is perhaps the most efficient way to bring them up while working nearly every other muscle.

1

Stand with feet hip-width apart and push your hips back to bend down. Grab the bar overhand at shoulder width and pull it toward your shins.

2

Sit back, drop your butt, and extend your hips to pull the bar off the floor. When the bar clears your knees, come up fast, trying to jump, and shrug.

3

Allow the momentum to carry the bar straight upward and flip your wrists so you “catch” the bar at your collarbone with elbows raised.

The clean combines the movements of a deadlift, upright row and shrug — three proven trap-builders — into one explosive exercise, activating scores of muscle fibres. If you have trouble with the technique, perform hang cleans, beginning with
the bar right above your knees. Do 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps first in your workout.

quick muscle tip

Cheat to Gain Muscle

Using momentum to lift weights may result in more muscle gains. A study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology used a computer program to look at the effect of a set of 10 dumbbell lateral raises done with momentum (“cheating” the weight up) and without it. When the exercise was done strictly, the move was more difficult to complete towards the top of the lift, and muscular torque at the shoulder joint decreased with each repetition. When the exercise was cheated, more weight could be used and torque remained high. Although the fact that the study was done with a computer and not a human subject leaves it open to question, the results suggest that using “moderate momentum” at the beginning of each rep may allow certain exercises to be done safely and more effectively for muscle growth.