Smith machine shrug exercise

Smith machine shrug

Exercise details

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

Starting position

  1. Set the height of the bar of the Smith machine so that it’s just above knee height.
  2. Set the safety pins to prevent the bar from being able to drop and potentially damage your legs.
  3. Stand in front of the bar and grasp it using a shoulder-width pronated grip (palms facing your body).
  4. Unlatch the bar from the rail by rotating it, and stand up straight.


  1. Keeping your elbows slightly flexed, 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 bar back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.
  5. After you have finished, latch the bar back onto the rail by rotating it.

Comments and tips

  • Keep your back straight and body still; only your shoulders should move.
  • Keep your elbows slightly flexed.
  • Do not roll your shoulders as this can lead to a shoulder injury.
  • If necessary, use wrist straps for a better grip, or use a mixed grip wherein one of your hands is pronated (facing your body) and the other is supinated (facing away from your body).
  • Many gym-goers find it difficult to overload their trapezius using dumbbells or a barbell because they require a relatively large amount of weight and getting very heavy dumbbells or a very heavy barbell into the right position is difficult. The Smith machine shrug simplifies the process and allows you to overload your trapezius using a lot of weight safely.
  • Don’t forget to use the safety pins for all Smith machine exercises.
  • See also the dumbbell shrug and the barbell shrug. For a challenging exercise, see the bent-knee inverted shrug on parallel bars.

Smith machine shrug video


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