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You want huge traps, and you know the best way to get them is through a steady diet of barbell shrugs. Toward the end of your heavy sets, however, you’re running into a consistent problem: Your grip keeps giving out before your shoulders do.
There’s some controversy when it comes to combating this issue. Grip deficit seems to be easily fixed by using lifting straps, but you’ll find plenty of resistance to this idea from lifters and trainers who advocate working your grip at the same rate as your pulling and static-hold moves to develop everything in tandem.
Using a double-overhand grip at all costs can hold you back in terms of the load you’ll be able to lift, though, so there’s a second school of thought that addresses this problem by having you do heavy shrugs with a deadlift-style alternating grip. Critics of the alternating approach say your back will develop asymmetrically if you do this, but if you simply switch the alignment of your hands with each set, your weekly volume won’t be enough to cause any imbalances. With that said check out the following 5 tips for better shrugging.
1. Work in a power rack. Set the spotter pins to a point a few inches below the bottom of your range of motion, deadlift the bar into position, and shrug.
2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Don’t stagger your stance or keep your feet together—use an athletic stance as though you were deadlifting.
3. Hold the bar with your arms hanging straight down, hands just outside hip width. Transition to an alternating grip when double- overhand becomes difficult.
4. Go heavy, but use a weight that allows you to perform more than 12 reps per set. The higher the reps, the greater the workload on your hands and forearms.
5. The barbell should travel straight up and down, so don’t roll your shoulders. Hold the bar in the top position for a second, then slowly lower it to a dead-hang position.