Shrugs with Barbell

Exercise Details for Shrugs with Barbell

  • Primary Muscle
  • Equipment
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Why Should You do Shrugs with Barbell?

On the upper back is a muscle called the trapezius. The muscle looks a bit like a flying kite. It attaches to the top of the skull and extends to the shoulders. Then the muscle continues down along the spine between the shoulder blades a reasonable distance down the back. The upper part of this muscle holds the skull in place, which you can see in wrestlers and boxers who often have a well-developed Trapezius, but it also helps the body carry really heavy things or do deadlifts or Farmers walk. In the upper part of the muscle, the muscle fibers go obliquely upwards. You train this part by holding heavy things in your hands or pulling your shoulders up towards your ears when you have heavy items in your hands. This is exactly what you do in a Shrug, whether you are lifting dumbbells or a writing bar.


Shrugs are performed in this exercise using a barbell that you grab with an overhand grip. The advantage of a barbell compared to dumbbells is that you can have an extra-wide grip that several studies have shown gives a better training effect. The upper part of your Trapezius has muscle fibers that are more in line with the load if you have a wide grip, and they are trained better.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the barbell in front of your thighs. You should have a prone grip, i.e., with the palms of your hands facing the body and the arms fully extended. Lean forward extremely slightly, but make sure that your back is neutral or slightly swayed. Feel that your stomach stabilizes your upper body. This is your starting position.


Keep your arms straight at all times. Now pull the bar upwards with the help of your back muscles so that the shoulders go up and back. Even if your arms do not bend, they have an essential function. It would help if you mentally thought about squeezing your hands together even though they are “stuck” in the bar. This means that your shoulder blades are compressed more, and you get more out of the exercise.

Do not roll your shoulders; pull them diagonally backward. When you have reached as high as you can, hold this position for up to 5 seconds and lower the weight. It is important that you do not swing and pull the weight up and then release it on the way down, but the exercise should be performed slowly. Do not put too much weight on the bar but do many repetitions instead with a slow pace.

You should also not rock the body, only the arms and shoulders should move in the exercise.

Tips for Shrug with Barbell

  • The advantage of a barbell is that you can have an extra-wide grip that gives better results for the upper trapezius compared to dumbbells
  • Do not roll the shoulders; pull them back diagonally
  • Hold for up to 5 seconds in the top position and squeeze your shoulder blades
  • Remember to squeeze your hands together mentally
  • Perform the exercise slowly
  • Do not use too much weight but do many reps instead
  • The body should be still, do not rock it
  • Each rep in the same way with “full range of motion”; otherwise, you will not see progress.

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