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I Did 100 “Barbell Shrugs” Every Day For 30 Days

My Traps Got Huge!

Posted by Scott_Herman - April 9th, 2020

Nuceli overload experiment number two is finally complete! If you missed the first experiment, it’s going to be very important that you watch that video, because in that video I talk about why nuclei overload training works and the science behind it. I did a lot of research and put a lot of effort into that video so that as we do more experiments, I won’t have to re-hash all that information. So if you missed that video, you can watch it HERE.

What I did for the last 30 days starting on February 3rd was 100 power shrugs a day (10 sets of 10 reps) followed by 100 barbell calf raises (10 sets of 10 reps). Now, it’s not always recommended that you do two muscles for nuclei overload training when doing this experiment, but because I was doing traps and calves, different parts of my body and those muscles can generally take quite a bit of a beating, it was OK. I didn’t feel myself being over-trained whatsoever.

For the last 30 days, I wanted to focus on trying to see growth in my traps. Traps have always been a weak area for me, calves are a weak area for me (and most guys in general) and I just wish I was blessed with big calves like Rikki! I wanted to spark some growth in these areas. Let’s look at my comparison photos first.

Calves – The Result

February 3rd, my calves measured at 15.5 inches and as of today, they’re measuring 15.7 inches. That’s not a ton of growth, but it’s still some growth! Some of you might be saying, how can you get that kind of growth in a month? What I think it comes down to for me, at least for areas like calves and traps, these are areas that I’ve never done a ton of volume in throughout my history of training, that’s why they’re problem areas. I feel like as I continue to do these experiments I’m going to notice or see the most growth in areas that I didn’t hit as hard as I should have throughout my lifetime as lifter.

Also, that quarter of an inch could be for a variety of reasons, I could have flexed my calf in a weird way when I took the original photo versus the photo now, so actual mass and growth we can’t say definitively, but I can tell you that the measurement is a little bigger as I’ve shown you and just visually in the mirror when I take a look and flex my calf, or if I take a photo from the back, I do see a bit of a difference. But remember, it’s only quarter of an inch that’s spread out throughout the entire circumference of the calf area, it’s not like you’re going to all of a sudden see a baseball, it’s just not going to happen.

Traps – The Result

For traps, however, I did notice a pretty big difference. If you take a look at the two photos below, you can see a clear difference in my back. If you were to pan around my body, you’re going to see a lot more upper trap development and that’s what I was going for. I’ve never really had good separation from neck to trap to shoulders and that was one of the main reasons I was doing this. I was even explaining to Rikki that one of the biggest differences I have seen or noticed doesn’t even have to do with the size of the muscle, it’s the mind-muscle connection (MMC).

If you were to stand up right now and flex your biceps as hard as you could, it’s almost like you could feel the whole muscle contracting and it’s like there’s a ball in your arm (even if it’s a smaller ball, that’s still OK!). That’s kind of what I started to feel in my traps. Whenever I would flex my traps and do my most muscular pose, I would have to fight so hard to kind of roll my shoulders in and push my traps forward. But now when I do it, it’s almost like I get that same feeling, I can feel the whole muscle flexing and contracting and actually rolling forward, which I never really had before. So that was one of the big differences, but another difference is even though we can’t measure, we can visually see that the traps did grow quite a bit, very noticeable!

How The Experiment Worked

The way the exercises worked, in case you want to try the experiment, is like this. Every single morning, I would wake up, eat my breakfast, do some work, then about midday I would come into my gym and I would do 10 sets of 10 repetitions of a power shrug, followed by 10 sets of 10 repetitions with a barbell calf raise. I would superset them and would only rest about 45 – 60 seconds in-between supersets. I did this until I had completed all of my reps and it would only take me 25 – 30 minutes max.

The only things that changed throughout the course of the 30 days were this: on calves, it’s kind of like biceps training, when you go wider you work the inside and when you go closer you work the outsides – same thing with calves. I would actually alter my stance to either be wide or close, sometimes day to day or sometimes I would do the first 5 sets with my feet close together and the next 5 sets with my feet wide apart, just to try to switch things up and make sure I was activating the entire area.

Power shrugs though, number one, I would definitely recommend picking up some ‘EZ Grips’. This made it easier for me to go through my sets a lot faster. Another thing I would do with the power shrugs is I wanted to make sure I was getting a deep stretch in my traps on every single repetition. So I wasn’t just bouncing the weight for 10 reps, I was actually letting the bar sit down my thighs to get a real deep stretch. As I would come up, I would do my best to not push off my toes to use so much momentum, because even though you’re doing a power shrug and the point is to overload, you still want your feet to be flat and to control the weight on the way down. Just make sure if you try this method that you’re not bending over and then coming up, you should kind of sit and then pull up just to get that deep stretch.

Could This Be Over-Training?

And I did that for 30 days and I didn’t really feel over-trained at all. Basically how I would incorporate this into my daily training at the gym now that I’m doing full body, is I just didn’t hit calves, I didn’t need to. But when it came to upper body, especially my shoulder workouts, I wasn’t doing any types of shrugs, I just kind of took dumbbell shrugs and barbell shrugs and tossed them aside (at the commercial gym).

I was still doing overhead presses and another exercise I did because my rear delts are also a lagging area, so I wanted to find a cool way to hit those and get a bit more trap activation that wasn’t from the power shrugs. So I did this superset, which is now one of my absolute favorite supersets when doing shoulders, where I would do a lateral raise so that I’m going to hit that middle head of the deltoid for 10 or maybe 12 repetitions. Then, to get a bit more upper trap activation as well as my rear delt, I would do a rear delt raise, but instead of doing a traditional rear delt raise, I was just bending over slightly, using a pronated grip, then swinging back with one hand at a time.

From all the training I was doing with the power shrugs, whenever I would do this superset, my upper traps and my rear deltoids would just light up and it was great, so I would recommend that if you try the power shrugs, that when you do your shoulder training you do your shoulder presses, you do your lateral raises, front raises, but when it gets time for the rear raise, do that superset!

Can You Get Results With Nuclei Overload Training?

Overall, with this training, you’re going to see results. No matter what you do in my opinion, you’re going from training a muscle group three days per week (if you’re doing full body) to hitting that muscle seven days a week with a lot more volume on every single day because you’re doing 10 sets of 10 repetitions. Traditionally in your workout, you’re going to do three or maybe four sets of 8 – 10 repetitions on that body part and only three days per week. So it is a lot more volume, so you should see some kind of change. If anything, you should see a difference in the amount of MMC you have to that muscle.

I want to kind of keep this going, so the next nuclei overload experiment I want to do is going to be for back and I want to do pull-ups. So 100 pull-ups a day, more than likely starting off with bodyweight, but hopefully getting to the point to where I can start adding little bits of weight, even if it’s 5lbs, 10lbs or 15lbs if I’m feeling really good, to start building a bit more strength as I’m increasing my volume. I’m thinking with this experiment, it’s just going to be pull-ups, no other muscle groups, but to kind of torture myself, during my rest periods I’ll work on my handstands!


When it comes to fitness, you cannot be close-minded, there are so many different ways to achieve a goal and if what you’re doing right now isn’t working, then it’s time to switch it up!

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