Barbell overhead shrug exercise

Barbell overhead shrug

Exercise details

  • Target muscle: Upper Trapezius
  • Synergists: Middle Trapezius, Levator Scapulae
  • Important stabilizers: Anterior Deltoid, Lateral Deltoid, Upper Pectoralis Major, Triceps Brachii
  • Mechanics: Isolation
  • Force: Pull

Starting position

  1. With your feet shoulder-width apart, perform a barbell shoulder press to position the barbell directly over your head.


  1. Keeping your elbows straight and your back neutral, exhale as you shrug your shoulders up as high as possible.
  2. Hold for a count of two and squeeze your upper trapezius muscles.
  3. Inhale as you slowly lower your shoulders.
  4. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

Comments and tips

  • The barbell overhead shrug is an excellent exercise for building the upper trapezius.
  • Make sure to wrap your thumbs tightly around the barbell so that it does not slip and drop onto your head. Never use a thumbless grip with this exercise.
  • Unlike the barbell shrug, the barbell overhead shrug does not promote internal shoulder rotation, thus allowing you to build your upper trapezius with reduced risk of developing hunched shoulders.
  • Keep your core engaged and your back neutral throughout the exercise.
  • The barbell should be directly over your head throughout the exercise.
  • For your safety, begin with a light weight and gradually increase the weight as you get stronger.
  • See also the dumbbell shrug and the gripless shrug.

Barbell overhead shrug video

Source, Scapula and Clavicle Articulations

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