Everyone wants big calves but I'd rather workout THIS muscle instead

Don't waste your time with calf-biggering exercises, focus your efforts on your neck instead

how to get a big neck
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are quite a few strange muscle groups people get completely obsessed with when they start bodybuilding, one of these being the calves. Want big calves? I have some bad news for you: they are ridiculously hard to grow and are very resistant to strength training. As opposed to wasting your time trying to bigger your calves, I recommend turning your attention to your traps.

Where even are your traps, you might ask? 'Traps' are short for 'trapezius' and it is a "large paired surface muscle that extends longitudinally from the occipital bone to the lower thoracic vertebrae of the spine and laterally to the spine of the scapula", as Wikipedia explains it. Okay, who cares? Well, you should as training the traps is not only easier than growing big calves but it will also make you look 'bigger', even when you wear a t-shirt. Win-win.

Coming back to the question of calves muscles, it's completely baffling why people would want to go above and beyond to grow them. This is pretty much the 'how to get a six pack' debate all over again: it's not impossible to have either (or both), it's just unnecessary. Neither your six pack, nor your calves are visible to others around you most of the time, and considering the effort it takes to get them, it's a bit silly to focus your muscle building effort on them.

On the other hand, having large traps, much like having big shoulders, will make it pretty obvious that you are working out, without having to pull up your t-shirt all the time to showcase your washboard abs. Traps will also make your pecs and shoulders look bigger, as well as supporting your neck, which is not a bad thing if you stare at computer screens often.

To summarise: never mind the calves and if you really need to workout a random muscle in the body, make it the traps.

Best exercises for traps muscle

Farmer's carry

Farmer's carry is an amazing exercise. It's as simple as it gets, yet it works the arm and especially the traps beautifully. All you need to do is to walk around holding a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells . That's it. You will need some space and I wouldn't recommend walking backwards as you see it in the video above but other than that, feel free to carry the weights around as long as you wish.

Kettlebell swing

One of the best one-move full body workout, the kettlebell swing is essentially a plyo deadlift and strengthens the grip as well as the glutes, hamstrings, core and a the traps. Performed correctly, the kettlebell swings can do wonders to your body, so much so that there is a whole workout based around this one exercise. The 10,000 swings kettlebell workout takes four weeks and it is said to make you abs and your glutes pop plus massively improve grip strength. What's not to love about the swing?

Deadlift

The deadlift, a.k.a. the King of Lifts is one of the best – if not the best – compound exercise to build overall strength and burn fat, all in the same time. The idea is to work with large weight when performing deadlifts – although please start small and work up – so form is especially important. Perform deadlifts incorrectly, and what you'll get is a pulled back, not big arms and toned glutes. When done right, the deadlift will build strength and traps like no other exercise can.

Push press

The push press is superior to strict press when it comes to building humongous traps as you usually work with heavier weights when doing push press, and we all know that large weights equal to big gains. Well, the process doesn't quite work like that but it is true that the push press is a great compound exercise to build traps definition. Start doing it. Now.

Matt Kollat
Matt Kollat

Matt is a fitness fanatic (a.k.a. fitness and nutrition writer) who's been rambling on about all things health and fitness for over two years now here at T3. His achievements include a short-lived fitness podcast called Fit Mentality Podcast and being a judge on the Fit&Well Awards 2021. In his free time, he works out at home, runs, cycles and loves a good ol' walk around the city. He writes about general fitness stuff, fitness tech, workouts, workout gear/equipment, nutrition and much, much more.