Barbell shrug exercise

Barbell shrug

Exercise details

  • Target muscle: Upper Trapezius
  • Synergists: Middle Trapezius, Levator Scapulae
  • Mechanics: Isolation
  • Force: Pull

Starting position

  1. Stand holding a barbell using a shoulder-width pronated grip (palms facing your body).


  1. Exhale as you elevate your shoulders as high as possible.
  2. Hold for a count of two and squeeze your trapezius.
  3. Inhale as you lower the barbell back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat.

Comments and tips

  • Keep your back straight and torso still; only your shoulders should move.
  • Keep your elbows slightly bent.
  • Do not roll your shoulders, as this increases the risk of injury.
  • If necessary, use wrist straps for a better grip, or use a mixed grip (one hand pronated or facing you, the other hand supinated or facing forward).
  • The barbell shrug targets your upper trapezius, while your middle trapezius acts as a synergist. A strong trapezius will assist you in the development of other major muscle groups, as it is involved in many key exercises.
  • See also the cable shrug using pull-down bar.


The shrug can also be performed with the barbell behind your back (behind-the-back barbell shrug), with the barbell held over your head (barbell overhead shrug), with a trap bar (trap bar shrug), with dumbbells (dumbbell shrug), with a Smith machine (Smith machine shrug), with a cable machine (cable shrug), and on parallel bars (bent-knee inverted shrug on parallel bars).

Barbell shrug video


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