Muscles Used • Exercise Type • Form Instruction • Tips and Techniques • Recommended Reps • Common Variations • Substitutions • Equipment Needed
See all the exercises at the:
Weight Training Exercises Database
– Barbell Shoulder Shrugs –
Isolated Exercise, Pull Movement
Standing, grasp barbell with an overhand or mixed grip. Raise shoulders as high as you can and then lower to full extension.
Tips and Techniques:
Droop the shoulders down as far as possible and then raise them as high as possible (shrug as though you really, really don’t care).
The traps are pretty strong so you’ll need to pile on the weights (don’t be scared to go heavy if you want to see some muscle growth – using weight lifting straps or Newgrips can help prevent your wrists from limiting you here).
DO NOT roll the shoulders at the top of the exercise – this was a taught shrug technique at one time but, nearly unanimously, it is now believed that this rolling has little or no benefit and greatly increases the risk of injury. You’ll still see some trainers doing the roll but you want to just go straight up and down.
Recommended Reps For Muscle Building:
6-12 the majority of the time, trying higher or lower reps on occasion.
- Dumbbell Shrugs – (see image above) Typically standing but can be done seated – same motion holding the dumbbells to the sides and raising both simultaneously or alternating between arms. Doing one arm at a time can increase contraction and prove a positive for muscle growth.
- Behind-The-Back Barbell Shrugs – Same motion but holding the barbell behind the back – stresses the muscle in a slightly different way and many weight lifters believe it to be superior to the more common front way for upper trap development.
- Machine-Based Shrugs – Shoulder shrugs can be performed on a variety of machines including cable, lever and Smith machines. A calf machine provides an interesting alternative – here you can do shrugs without holding a bar at all. Due to the isolated nature of the exercise, using machines shouldn’t detract from its effectiveness.
No great exercise to replace the shrug’s ability to target the upper traps. Upright Rows, however, while a somewhat difficult exercise can be used effectively for trap development.
Barbell and Weights
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