One thing that never fails to amaze me in gyms up and down the country is the amount of big guys, constantly looking to add more size and strength to their physiques, who have never performed a dumbbell shrug in their life. Whether this is through lack of knowledge and education on the exercises available or something less obvious I’ll never know, but one thing is for sure, if you’re looking to develop your upper body then shrugs should never be omitted.

Personally, if you’re going for that burst out of your t-shirt type physique, where you constantly spend blood, sweat and tears building and developing your chest, shoulders and back then you might as well go the whole hog and hit the upper traps too. There’s no point building all of the muscles around you and then having flat shoulders now is there?

Whether you chose to target your traps during a shoulder or back workout, just ensure that they are receiving regular attention just like your other target muscles. Developing your traps is so straight forward too. There’s no fancy or awkward movement technique you have to perform, simply shrug a load in an upwards direction! The primary role of this particular muscle is to lift the entire shoulder girdle complex, so when it comes to exercising this muscle that’s all you really need to mimic. Simple right? So what’s required of you during the movement phase of a shrug?

How To Perform The Shrug Exercise
  1. Initially select your load; this can be through dumbbells, a barbell or a set machine.
  2. Grasp this resistance and hold it with your arms by your side.
  3. Drive your shoulder girdle region upwards as high as you can towards your ears.
Shrug Exercise Video

Although a relatively simple and straight forward exercise, many individuals through bad form and technique make it a great deal harder than it actually has to be. During the shrugging action do not bounce at the extremes of the movement, instead keep it controlled throughout. At the top of the movement try and hold to position momentarily before slowly lowering the weights back to their starting position. It’s not a great range of motion to move the load over, so make sure you make the most of what you have in order to work your traps to their fullest. Finally, don’t utilise your arms by bending them to try and further lift the load or add any rolling motion around the shoulders at any stage of the exercise. This will not enhance the exercise and will only serve to add injury potential.

Final Word

Before signing off, it’s important to note that the traps are an incredibly strong muscle group and you will be able to shift some dumbbell load during these repetitions. Remember however that you should never substitute either form or good posture, so don’t allow yourself to be pulled forwards or lose form at any stage.

Now that you’re equipped with all of the knowledge and information you require to successfully complete the shrug, why not get yourself into the free weights section and see what results you can achieve.