Primary Muscle Group: Trapezius
Secondary Muscle Group: Levator Scapulae and Rhomboid
Equipment Needed: Barbell, Weight Plates
The Benefits of Barbell Shrugs
The Barbell shrug is one of the smallest movements you can do in the gym which means you can move some big weight in comparison to your other lifts. You can see some big muscles and strength gains around the traps and upper back from this exercise if performed right, making it a popular exercise with bodybuilders and power lifters.
The barbell shrug primarily muscle group hits the traps, which runs down from your neck to your upper back. So if you want to get the ‘bodybuilders’ look to your upper body then this exercise plays a big role in developing the shoulders and upper back and is a must for all serious lifters.
If you are looking for other exercises that are the best for building muscle or wanting to lose body fat then you should check our Free Workout Plans or our Affordable Workout Plans With Coaching for professionally designed workout plans that have been proven to get results.
The Risks of doing Barbell Shrugs
Whilst the barbell shrug is a fantastic exercise for building muscle, it does have some risks associated with it. As mentioned previously, the Barbell shrug is a small movement and this gives people the temptation to stack lots of heavy weight on the barbell. Lifting heavy weight is great and has many benefits BUT if you push it too far, you do risk injuries. Trying to lift too much weight on the barbell shrug can lead to lower back injuries, should injuries and vulnerable to Muscle Strains.
So before giving Barbell Shrugs a go, here's exactly how to do them without risking pain or injury.
How To Do Barbell Shrugs
1) Stand up straight with your feet at shoulder width as you hold a barbell with both hands in front of you using a pronated grip & your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. (palms facing the thighs).
2) Raise your shoulders up as far as you can go as you breathe out and hold the contraction for a second. It’s important to remember not to use your biceps to move the barbell.
3) Slowly return to the starting position as you breathe in.
4) Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Variations: You can also rotate your shoulders slightly backwards as you move the bar up in a circular motion from the front to the rear. We advise you avoid this if you have any pre-existing shoulder pain. You can also do the Barbell Shrugs with the barbell behind your back with the barbell However, this version is not good for people with shoulder problems.
For Perfect Technique
• Keep your back straight with you abs tight
• Keep a slight bend in your knees and keep the barbell against your thighs when doing the shrugs because this helps maintain the tension on your traps.
How To Do Smith Machine Shrugs
1) Firstly, set up for the smith machine shrug by loading up the weight you want to use on a smith machine and set the safety latch at a suitable height.
2) Stand facing the bar with your feet about shoulder width apart.
3) Grasp the bar with an overhand grip (palms facing down), with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Bending at the knees only, pick the barbell up and release the safety latch.
4) Keeping the barbell close to your body, let your shoulders drop as far as possible. This is the starting position for the exercise.
5) Slowly shrug your shoulders up as far as possible & pause for a second and then slowly bring the barbell back to the starting position.
How To Do Dumbbell Shrugs
1) Start by standing tall, holding a dumbbell in an overhand grip with your hands just outside your legs.
2) Drop your shoulders, keep your back straight and shoulders rolled back and then lift your shoulders straight up, hold for a second in this elevated position
3) Lower them back to the start.
The Barbell Shrug specifically targets your trap muscles and is one of the best exercises for developing your shoulders and upper back.