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Barbell Shrug

Barbell Shrug

The Barbell Shrug is a powerful exercise that primarily targets the upper trapezius muscle, with secondary activation of the levator scapulae, rhomboids, and even the deltoids. This exercise is commonly performed with a barbell but can also be done using dumbbells or a Smith machine. The key focus of the Barbell Shrug is to develop strength and size in the upper back and neck region. When performing the Barbell Shrug, it is important to maintain proper form and technique. Start by holding the barbell in front of you with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, maintaining a slight bend in your knees for stability. Next, without bending your elbows, simply shrug your shoulders straight up towards your ears. Keep the movement controlled and avoid rolling the shoulders forward or backward. Squeeze your traps at the top of the movement, and then lower the barbell back down to the starting position. To maximize the effectiveness of the Barbell Shrug, it is crucial to use an appropriate weight that challenges your muscles but allows for proper form. Aim for a weight that allows you to perform 8-12 repetitions with good technique before fatigue sets in. Additionally, focus on maintaining a neutral spine throughout the movement and avoid excessive neck flexion or extension. Incorporating the Barbell Shrug into your workout routine can help improve your posture, upper body strength, and overall muscle development. Remember to always warm up before starting any exercise, and if you experience any pain or discomfort, it is advisable to consult with a fitness professional or medical expert.


  • Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a barbell with an overhand grip in front of your thighs.
  • Keep your back straight, engage your core, and retract your shoulder blades.
  • Using your traps, lift your shoulders as high as possible, while keeping your arms straight.
  • Hold the contraction for a second, then slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the recommended number of repetitions.

Tips & Tricks

  • Focus on proper form and technique to avoid injury and maximize results.
  • Engage your core muscles throughout the exercise to maintain stability and support your spine.
  • Start with a weight that allows you to perform the movement correctly and with control.
  • Gradually increase the weight as you become comfortable and confident with the exercise.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and avoid shrugging them excessively during the movement.
  • Avoid using momentum or swinging your body to lift the weight. Maintain control throughout.
  • Incorporate a full range of motion by shrugging your shoulders up as high as possible.
  • Exhale as you shrug your shoulders up and inhale as you lower the weight down.
  • Don't forget to stretch and cool down your traps and shoulders after your workout.
  • If you're new to weightlifting, consider working with a certified personal trainer to ensure proper form and technique.

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