The traps are involved in many upper-body movements that require shoulder elevation, rotation, or stabilization. Shrugs are a true isolation exercise and can be performed with a barbell or dumbbells. Holding the bar with arms down and fully extended, raise the shoulders, lifting the weight using only your traps in a shrugging motion.

When doing shrugs, it is not necessary or helpful to roll the shoulders forward or back. The only line of resistance is in line with gravity, which is straight up and down. It is also important to keep the head and neck in proper alignment with the spine. Too much forward movement of the head and neck can put undue strain on the cervical vertebrae.


  • Smith Machine Shrug
  • Dumbbell Shrug


The origin of the trapezius spans from the occipital bone on the back of the skull down to the T-12 vertebrae. It inserts into the acromion and spine of the scapula. The primary function is to elevate the shoulder girdle and rotate and stabilize the scapula.


  • Reverse Pec-Deck* | SETS: 3 | REPS: 12-15
  • Barbell Shrug | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10-12

*Squeeze shoulder blades together.