Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t take the place of advice and/or supervision from a medical professional. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. Speak with your physician if you have any concerns.
Trap Bar Shrug
Trap bar shrugs are a great way to overload the traps because you can use heavy loads safely. The trap bar has you assume a grip that helps minimize the stress on the anterior shoulder, elbows, and wrists. The trap bar shrug can also be programmed for strength, hypertrophy, or power development, making it a versatile training tool.
Benefits of the Trap Bar Shrug
- This variation allows you to use the most resistance safely.
- Less stress on your wrists, elbows, and anterior shoulders because of the neutral grip of the trap bar
- Strong upper traps help support the head and good posture.
How to Do the Trap Bar Shrug
Perform a standard deadlift with the trap bar to begin the exercise from a standing position. Once motionless, shrug the shoulders up and towards the ears. Focus on elevating your shoulders without rounding them forward. Once at the top, lower under control.
The cable shrug is an excellent exercise to target the traps, rear delts, and upper back. The cable stack allows for precise loading, which is beneficial for higher rep sets and methods such as drop sets, tempo, and pauses. Unlike some of the other exercises on this list, the cable’s constant tension ensures that you fully fatigue the traps throughout their entire range of motio.
Benefits of the Cable Shrug
- Works the traps and upper through a fuller range of motion.
- The cable machine allows for constant tension on working the muscles.
- Great for burnout sets to maximize hypertrophy.
How to Do the Cable Shrug
Stand in front of a cable machine and grab the rope attachment with both hands and feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your shoulders down, chest up, and hold the rope with arms extended. Without using your arms, exhale and bring your shoulders towards your ears and then pull back slightly. Pause and slowly return to the starting position.
The dumbbell shrug allows for unilateral trap training and helps to iron out potential imbalances. While it is more difficult to load up serious weight with the dumbbell shrug, you can use methods to increase tension such as performing drop sets, lifting with tempo, or adding pauses. Plus, unlike the trap bar or barbell, dumbbells are particularly effective at improving grip strength.
Benefits of the Dumbbell Shrug
- The ability to train your traps unilaterally to help strengthen imbalances.
- The ability to train your traps and grip from a variety of angles.
- Both easy to learn and accessible to newcomers.
How to Do the Dumbbell Shrug
Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand tall with your shoulders depressed and chest up. Raise your upper traps towards your ears as high as you can. Pause for a second and slowly lower your shoulders down to the hang position. Reset and repeat for reps.