Barbell Shrug Video Guide

Exercise Profile

  • Strength
  • Barbell
  • Isolation
  • Pull (Bilateral)
  • Beginner
  • Shoulders, Upper Back
Traps Exercises Diagram Target Muscle Group

Exercise Instructions

  1. Position the safeties just below waist height in a rack.
  2. Assume a standing position with the bar in front of your body.
  3. Hinge forward, inhale, and grab the bar with a double overhand grip.
  4. Stand up tall and ensure your spine remains neutral.
  5. Contract the traps to elevate the shoulders. Squeeze hard at the top and slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Exercise Tips

  1. Looking slightly up while shrugging may enhance the contraction as traps help to control movement of the skull. This motion should be smooth and controlled, as a ballistic movement could result in a neck injury.
  2. The traps tend to respond well to high reps and explosive movements (e.g. snatch grip high pulls) so program your accessory work accordingly.
  3. Limit momentum and excessive jerking or bouncing of the weight. No one cares about how much you shrug.
  4. Don’t allow the head to jut forward excessively as you squeeze the traps, this can put the neck in a compromised position and result in an injury.
  5. Adding a pause at the top of the movement can help to enhance the mind muscle connection.

Join over 500k subscribers who receive weekly workouts, diet plans, videos and expert guides from Muscle & Strength.


12 Comments+ Post Comment

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 09/12/2013 - 05:29
Andy D

@Christian Rivas - Perform a 'mangina' prior to barbell shrugs

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 05/27/2013 - 11:54

I love shrugs, but they tend to screw up my neck. After one workout, I could barely turn my head for a week and my hands kept falling asleep. I'm sure I did something wrong, but I don't want to chance it. What would you recommend for a replacement here? Thanks. Good workout.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 04/23/2013 - 14:30

This is decent form, however in my experience you get a better pump/activation of your traps by slightly rolling your shoulders back. This is the same motion you make when you want to show someone your traps so it makes sense to me.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 10/26/2012 - 05:17

Just let it brush against your manly parts. And use straps when weight exceeds grip strength

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 10/05/2012 - 13:06

As I've gotten stronger doing these my hands and forearms haven't caught up. What can I do if the weight is too much for them?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 10/07/2012 - 10:59

get some of them grip strengtheners the look like what you put on the end of a bench press bar to keep the weights on do some everyday untill you cant do any more and your grip and fore arms should get stronger

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 06/09/2012 - 12:31

I'd recommend using dumbbells. The dumbbell shrug hits the same muscles and having two individual weights rather than a single bar, gives you better meanouvre-ing ability

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 05/23/2012 - 18:05
Christian Rivas

When I do these shrugs my manly part gets in the way. Is it okay to keep it not that close to your body?

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 07/09/2013 - 16:36

Dont lean back, if anything lean forward. just make sure your chin is up, eyes are forward and back is straight. this will also thicken your lower traps, and that is very nicer

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 08/23/2013 - 03:12

I don't have that problem. Then again, I'm extremely poorly endowed.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 11/05/2013 - 04:18

HAHAHAHHAAA I have the same problem dude

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 05/26/2014 - 22:39

Hi Christian, You may also opt for dumbbell shrugs as it will also helps you to focus and control the weights while lifting from traps and not the biceps.
happy training!