Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredMachine
  • MechanicsIsolation
  • Force TypePull (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelIntermediate
  • Secondary Muscles
    Shoulders, Upper Back
Target Muscle Group


Traps Muscle Anatomy Diagram

T-Bar Machine Shrug Overview

The t-bar machine shrug is an exercise one can use to isolate the muscles of the traps.

As opposed to targeting the upper traps, as most shrug variations tend to do, the t-bar machine shrug emphasizes the use of the mid and lower trap area. It is important to train them all to have a well develop set of traps.

T-Bar Machine Shrug Instructions

  1. Assume a prone position on a t-bar machine with your chest on the pad.
  2. Reach forward and grab the handle with a semi pronated grip.
  3. Contract the traps and retract your shoulder blades together to activate all of the traps. Squeeze hard at the top and slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

T-Bar Machine Shrug 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.