The Power Look

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Training

big-trapsNothing says power like a big set of traps and a thick neck. Think about it.

When you’re out somewhere and you see a guy with massive traps and huge neck you automatically know he’s the last guy in the joint that you’d ever want to mess with.

Maybe he’s an ex wrestler. Maybe he competes in MMA. Or maybe he played football.

You don’t know but you definitely don’t want to find out.

No other muscle groups instill fear in and command respect from all those around you like the traps and neck do.

Plenty of pumped up pretty boys walk around with decent sized arms and zero back development.

An equal amount of guys have built up a pretty good sized chest since it’s the only muscle they ever train. But big arms and a big set of pecs do nothing to command respect.

If you really want to look powerful, athletic and intimidating you need to develop the traps and neck.


When it comes to achieving the power look the first exercise you need to be concerned with is the deadlift. The deadlift packs size on the traps like nothing else. You are going to want to deadlift once per week and use heavy weights you can handle with perfect form.

Olympic Lifts

Next on the list come Olympic lifting variations such as snatches, cleans, snatch grip high pulls, and shrug pulls. These Olympic lifts build up huge traps and can be done more frequently than deadlifts. If you are really trying to build up the traps rapidly I recommend that you do some sort of Olympic lift variation at least twice per week, if not three times for 3-5 sets of 3-6 reps.


Another great trap building exercise is the shrug. Shrugs can be done with barbells or dumbbells and with heavy weight for low reps and a partial range of motion or lighter reps for high reps with a full range of motion.

I recommend that you use both approaches for full trap development once or twice a week after your deadlifts or Olympic lifts. On one of your shrug days you may also want to hold an isometric contraction at the top for 2-3 seconds on each rep.

Neck Work

With the traps taken care of you need to move on to your neck. You simply can’t beat an old school neck harness with a plate attached to it for neck development.

Other great neck exercises are manual resistance flexion and extension exercises with a partner or isometric supports against a stability ball or Airex pad.

To do the partner resisted exercises simply lie down on a flat bench with your head hanging off and have a partner drape a towel over your head and provide resistance as you move up and down. Be sure not to use extreme ranges of motion on neck work or you could put yourself at risk for injury.

The neck should be trained two or three days per week for 2-3 sets of 15-25 reps.

For a complete 12-week “power look” specialization program download a copy of Yoked by clicking HERE now.


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27 Responses to The Power Look

  1. Erin July 29, 2009 at 8:57 am #

    While I think this holds true for men – very much so, being an athletic woman, and wanting to present that same sense of fierce, don’t f–k with me appearance, I would like to know what your suggestions are, since looking like a no-neck monster, just doesn’t cut it for us girls. And while I happen to think a 20 inch neck is a desirable look on a lot of men, there is just something about a girl with a gargantuan neck that seems incredibly unattractive (not to mention ill proportioned ;)
    What do you suggest?

    • Jason (Not Ferruggia) November 9, 2012 at 10:35 am #

      Thighs. Strong well sculpted VL and VM and a great round gluteus maximus. Those 2 things really show strength and are damn sexy! :P

    • Micayla November 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

      You still want to do these exercises, even if you’re a woman. Even go heavy and hard, because unless you’re taking steroids, you don’t have to worry about bulk. The only thing that happens to me when I train like a man is my curves are more pronounced, the muscle actually looks sexy and the fat disappears much faster than an hour of cardio or yoga. :) Anyway, having a strong neck and back is very important because it prevents injury and improves posture.

  2. benjie January 23, 2010 at 8:33 am #

    swimming is good for neck, traps, and lats. you have to hold your head up the whole time you swim.
    huge guys with small necks are funny. and, there are a lot of them.

  3. CARLOS B March 12, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    Cool post jason! im going for it now! thanks!

  4. Clement March 13, 2011 at 5:46 am #

    Sorry, Jay, but I have to disagree with you. The shoulders are the most intimidating part of a guy’s body. Wide shoulders, a strong back, a flat stomach and powerful legs are the killer combination.

    • Jason Ferruggia March 16, 2011 at 10:54 am #

      @Clement: Shoulders, intimidating? I don’t know about that one. They look cool. But flat shoulders with no traps doesn’t really say “intimidating.” Think about it, you see bodybuilders all the time with tiny necks and no traps and they’re never intimidating. But then you see a fighter or a powerlifter or football player with big traps and they are definitely intimidating.

      • Shawn May 9, 2013 at 6:02 am #

        Goldberg! Enough said!

  5. Rajat April 1, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    Hi Jay
    Loved your post. I want more info on the neck exercises. How do you target rotation/lateral flexion for the neck with resistance? I don’t have a neck strap or neck harness, all I have is a partner :)

    • T Bell November 3, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

      @Clement I definitely disagree. Lats and Shoulders look “Impressive” in their way, but they’re definitely not intimidating or powerful looking like a thick neck and big traps.

      The rugby player look, with the real functional movements and the HUGE traps is the scariest look around without a doubt.

  6. cody May 7, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    I definitely agree that large traps are intimidating, but there is a reason “pretty boys” aren’t rocking them. Most girls don’t like huge traps, it looks bad to them. Infact every girl I have ever brought that up with does not like large traps. And its no secret that a big reason many people want to put on muscle and build their physique is for the women. I do work traps hard just don’t want Brock Lesnar traps, that’s a bit over the top for me.

  7. Niko August 26, 2011 at 5:03 am #

    Cody, pretty boys don’t have traps because they take hard work. The girls I know love Rugby League players (for those outside of Australia google it), the reason they love us is because we have thick necks and big traps (among other things). I put it down to training with all of the above techniques, but also because we are constantly tackling with our shoulders and getting tackled, all without the assistance of helmets and pads.

  8. John January 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    Great post! Always great info. Funny, I just watched “warrior” the other night and was fascinated at how big the traps on one of those actors was. An intimidating look indeed!

  9. Matt January 24, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    This hits home! I was oblivious to the fact that I have a skinny neck until the last year or so. I’d like to get this remedied not only for appearance, but also for impact protection from nasty wipe outs on skis and bikes. Is this the recommended approach for a 3x/week lifting schedule:

    Day 1:
    Olympic variation
    Neck – manual resistance (band)

    Day 2:
    Olympic variation
    Neck – wrestler’s back and front bridge

    Day 3:
    Olympic variation
    Neck – manual resistance (band)

    (Note: not shown are other body part workouts like bench, chin-ups, etc)

  10. matt O February 2, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more with this article. I remember growing up around powerlifters and strongmen and they were all no neck monsters and surprise they were ungodly strong AND had all the respect a person could ask for. The yoke is all that matters honestly…if those pretty boys who only want big arms just focused on beefing up their upper backs they wouldn’t be stuck at eleventeen inch arms

  11. Ryan July 1, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    Guy I work with trains his chest only and he looks like a walking chest. Puffed out chest withe no size or definition anywhere else, especially his back, and he looks like an enormous pussy.

  12. Celo July 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Awesome article! Now I can understand why those muscle shirt douches at clubs look like.. Well.. douches! Chicken legs are an obvious give away but I didn’t consciously notice what a huge effect traps have!
    I saw an interview with NFL linebacker Takeo Spikes and his traps made it not unreasonable for me to believe he could probably demolish a brick building by hand.
    I’ve been focusing on dead lift and shrugs more..!

  13. Rich August 31, 2012 at 1:39 am #

    Couldn’t agree more with this post!

    Checkout Tom Hardy in “Warror” (as someone already mentioned) and you’ll see a dude you’re likely to step aside for.

    On pull days I incorporate: deads, high pulls, hang cleans, upright rows, Yates rows, and I like to finish with a couple of sets of seated db cleans and weighted inverted ring shrugs (a fast growing favourite).

  14. Charles C August 31, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    100% agree on the look. Man training Jiu-Jitsu with some monsters like Roberto Cyborg, check his neck out, is really intimidating. Nothing commands respect like a thick neck. Great post. Plus I love dead and o-lifts. I would add that the use of jump-bands are great. I use the 75lb, dont have a higher one yet, to do all sorts of neck work mainly for jits but its great for building a strong functional neck from many angles. Also the bands are great for other pulling drills/workouts for your back. ie. attach to structure squat down and try to pull that thing from every angle moving around like your fighting an opponent for intervals. great way to end a backworkout with added HIT.

  15. Wayne Fulton September 3, 2012 at 12:33 am #

    Jason, nail on the head there! Big neck and Big traps is key to the power look. Also to add to this . . i find there are lots of lads walking around town with no calf and/or forearm development. Like already said, they are walking chests :) like that one!!

  16. Kevin October 26, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    Yea maybe hardcore fitness pageant women like or prefer this type of look but 90 % or more everyday women do not…Jay is pretty much out of touch on this one..Personally for myself and most guys who lift want this look but again most women do not!

  17. Pedro December 21, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    Awesome article!

  18. casey June 17, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    What about farmer carries. Are those just as good as some of the other lifts?

  19. Nick October 26, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    Traps do matter. I used to say that it didn’t but as soon as I started training them & my neck it has given me the look of a pit bull. A nice thick neck screams healthiness & also adds overall symmetry. People automatically think of the extreme trap look which I’ll even admit can look a bit over the top but look at a guy like Hugh jackman in the wolverine movies. He looks awesome & he does that by working his traps & neck. The guys that it looks bad on already had heads like a dropped pie well before they did any trap work. To anybody that says nice strong traps don’t matter would not like to meet me in a dark alley ill tell ya. GIRLS DON’T LIKE IT…………PFFFFF………..WHAT A LAUGH

  20. Nick October 26, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    Btw I love you Jason,you’re a legend man. My only criticism is that your program’s(the basement beast in particular) should come with pictures on how to do the holds & that man. I looked at you’re video section & can’t find jack

  21. Muggles October 7, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

    If you want to command respect it is all mental. If you need to “look scarry” to command respect you don’t have my respect.