How To

1 Stand and hold a barbell with a shoulder-width overhand grip.
2 Draw your shoulder blades backwards and downwards, then shrug your shoulders upwards as high as possible, keeping your arms straight. Briefly hold.
3 Slowly lower the barbell until your shoulders are neutral.

Muscle Worked in Barbell Shrugs— Exercise

Primary Muscles

Traps Lie on the floor and place a foam roller below your traps and above your shoulder blades.

Secondary Muscles

Forearms The forearms help you grip objects and move your hands, wrists and fingers
Middle Back The middle back helps you rotate your torso
Shoulders Your shoulders are ball-and-socket joints which connect your arms to your torso
Upper Back Your upper back helps you move your head, neck, arms and trunk while maintaining proper posture.

Pro Tips

  • Make sure to squeeze hard at the top of the exercise.
  • Hold this move at the top momentarily to increase your time under tension.
  • Don't raise your arms in front of you.
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  • Barbell shrugs strengthen your trapezius muscles.
  • Barbell shrugs help you build bigger shoulders.


Exercises that target the same primary muscle groups with different equipment

Common Mistakes

  • You shouldn't bend your elbows while shrugging. This takes the work out of your traps
  • Make sure to keep your head and neck in a straight line. Off-center alignment of your head and neck, while you lift, can throw you off balance and put a strain on your joints.

Warm Up & Cool Down

This dynamic shoulder warm-up helps you create some movement in the shoulder joints, stimulating the surrounding muscles to prepare for more intense exercise. Warm Up Before Barbell Squat
1 Roll each arm at the shoulder joint in circles. Start small, increasing the size of the circles until you are making wide arm circles.
2 Reverse the direction of your arm circles, starting with big circles and getting smaller.
Cool Down After Barbell Squat This stretch involves pulling the arm laterally across your body to stretch out your shoulders and upper back.
1 Pull one arm across the body with the other to stretch your shoulder.
2 Hold for 10 seconds or as needed.
3 Repeat on the other side.


What muscles do barbell shrugs work?
The barbell shrug targets your trapezius muscles, or "traps."
What other equipment can I use for barbell shrugs?
You can try kettlebell or dumbbell shrugs to change up your equipment.
Should shrugs be heavy or light?
A shrug should be challenging, but not so heavy that you sacrifice your form. If you find your weight feels like it’s jerking your shoulders down, it may be a good sign to reduce your weight.