In the Pantheon of shoulder exercises, the simple shoulder shrug is probably way down at the bottom of the list somewhere, but the truth is shoulder shrugs are nothing to shrug at!
The shoulder shrug is a great movement to build mass in the trapezius and deltoid muscles in addition to the muscles in your upper back. Shoulder shrugs are easy to do and you can see and feel your growth as you segue from medium to heavy weight after just a few short weeks.
The trick is patience and attention to proper form.
I use shoulder shrugs as a great finishing exercise for pretty much all my chest, shoulder and back routines. Because the traps and delts are great stabilizers for pretty much everything you do in the gym. As with every weight-based resistance exercise you do when you work out, the trick to gaining the maximum benefit from shoulder shrugs is to focus on proper technique. Shrug, don’t roll
There is – believe it or not – a big difference between a shoulder SHRUG and a shoulder ROLL. And I’m sure most of us at one time or another fall victim to allowing your shoulder shrugs turn into shoulder rolls. When this occurs the benefits of shoulder shrugs dissipate significantly. This is not to say that rolling your shoulders is not a bad thing per se. It’s just that the SHRUG hits the delts and traps in an altogether different and much more effective (IMHO) way.
Proper Shoulder Shrugs In Closing
Shoulder shrugs are terrific mass-builders. If done correctly you’ll notice that shoulder shrugs get more difficult as you move up in weight. Just don’t sacrifice weight for technique. If you start to get sloppy you won’t be doing your shoulders any favors.
Remember, shoulder shrugs work your trapezius and the top of the deltoid, and the movement should be just what it claims: a simple up and down movement as opposed to an up-roll-backward movement:
– Stand with your feet slightly apart and your knees slightly bent. Grasp the barbell (or two dumbbells) in your hands with arms hanging in front and your palms facing your body.
– Shrug your shoulders – up as far to your ears as you can go and then down. This is one repetition.
Your shrugs should be perfromed as a continuous movement. Perform at least 3 sets of 15-20 reps. You may even consider doing your shrugs as a super-set to your bench press or other chest, shoulder or back exercises for extra benefit.
Don’t cheat. It’s easy to fall victim to yanking the weight up via a jerking motion that starts down at your lower back. Do not use your legs to drive your upper body and the barbell up. Your upper body should remain motionless throughout the exercise. I perform my shrugs with my back again a wall as it prevents cheating of any kind.
Shoulder shrugs should be performed with a relatively heavy weight. Personally I have evolved from using the barbell to using 45 pound plates. I can grip the plates in the either of the holes punches into the plate and with one plate in each hand I can easily alternate shrugs or do dual shrugs.
Regardless of what your preference is, always perform as many reps/sets with as heavy weight as you can complete with good form.