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Get a Massive Upper Back With the Jump Shrug

Incorporate this explosive movement for a thicker upper back and traps.

Sean Waxman, CSCS
Get a Massive Upper Back With the Jump Shrug

The jump shrug is a favorite among strength athletes for developing upper back thickness and enhancing explosive vertical movement. The point of this exercise is not to maximally develop the traps but rather increase the speed of the rep, which improves power development. The more power you acquire, the more strength you're capable of on standard shrugs, leading to better development in the long run. This movement isn't meant to take the place of shrugs—just do it from time to time.

THE HOW

  • Grasp the bar with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than hip-width apart. Wrap your thumbs around the bar for safety.
  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  • Arch your back, draw your navel inward and keep your chest up.
  • Keep your head neutral, eyes focused forward and arms as straight as possible throughout the movement.
  • While keeping your back flat, press your glutes backward and bend slightly at your knees as you lower the bar down your thighs.
  • Once the bar reaches about mid- to lower-thigh level, explode upward onto your toes while simultaneously shrugging the bar as high as possible without actually leaving the ground.
  • Lower the bar by dropping your shoulders and bringing your heels back to the floor. As the bar reaches the start position, bend your knees to absorb the descending weight. Repeat for reps.

THE WHEN

Use this move to kick off your back or shoulder workout (depending on when you work traps), at the start of your trap workout, or add it to a day when you do numerous multijoint exercises, such as deadlifts (see sample workout.)

TIPS

  • Keep your back slightly arched and your abs tight throughout the move to prevent injury to your lower back. >> Don'’t hold the shrug at the peak contraction; immediately return to the start position.
  • Keep the bar close to your body. If you find yourself falling forward, then the bar is too far in front of you and you'’re missing out on the benefits of the exercise and risking injury.
  • To maintain tension in your upper back and traps and minimize involvement of your arm muscles, keep your arms as straight as possible throughout.
Exercise Sets Reps Intensity
Deadlift 4 3-–6 50%-–80% 1 RM (modify as needed)
Jump Shrug 4 4-6 80% 1RM (romanian deadlift) -—or-— 50% 1RM (standard shrug)*
Overhead Squat 3 10-–15 45-pound bar**

* Use the romanian deadlift or standard shrug as the basis of your weight selection. Modify on consecutive sets as needed.
** Once you can complete 1-–2 sets of 10 reps with just the bar, slowly add weight to this difficult exercise.

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