Barbell shrug

The barbell shrug is an exercise targeting the traps (trapezius muscles). It is popular in strength and muscle-focused upper-body training, and is often trained on a shoulder day. With the assistance of straps, it can be loaded heavily, but it is still usually performed for moderate to high reps, such as 8-10 reps per set.


  1. Works the shoulders and upper-back muscles secondarily
  2. Adds both size and strength to traps
  3. Barbell version allows you to overload more easily
  4. Can increase difficulty by adding a pause at the top

Barbell shrug Images


Barbell shrug Instructions

Barbell shrug muscle diagram
  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 (palms facing the thighs). Tip: Your hands should be a little wider than shoulder width apart. You can use wrist wraps for this exercise for a better grip. This will be your starting position.
  2. Raise your shoulders up as far as you can go as you breathe out and hold the contraction for a second. Tip: Refrain from trying to lift the barbell by using your biceps.
  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 as you go up, going in a semicircular motion from front to rear. However this version is not good for people with shoulder problems. In addition, this exercise can be performed with the barbell behind the back, with dumbbells by the side, a smith machine or with a shrug machine.