T Nation

Opinions on Shrugs?


What is your take on shrugs as part of a regular workout routine? I rarely see them included in the programs I've seen here and elsewhere. Is it better just to stick with complex lifts or to do other kinds of shoulder isolation exercises?


I think you should look at the pictures of people recommending certain routines. I only do shrugs for traps. They work. There should be no debate about that.

There is no way that I would tell someone to rely on any other exercise if their goal was to build that muscle group up to the best of their genetic ability.


Do your shrugs. I think they're kind of like rotator cuff work...Never in the programs, but necessary to include.

I do mine with shoulders


Currently as part of my 'top end overhaul', I'm trying to hit traps twice per week-- I want bigger and stronger traps.

I switch up between BB shrugs, 1 arm DB shrugs (with triceps bar which I can load with more weight than the gym's db choices), and 1 arm smith machine shrugs -- depending if I want higher weight lower reps per set, or go lighter with more reps per set.

Usually depends if I'm going to deadlift that week, I may go lighter on traps and space them farther away.

I try to do them either on shoulder or back day depending how I feel.


I think deadlifts and its variations builds goods traps. I think if you want the true power look we all want you have to do shrugs. Heavy barbell shrugs are the best. I also think 1 arm Dumbbell shrugs are a good change of pace. They give you great range of motion. Also, use straps because you dont have to focus on your grip giving out.


In the strap issue, I suggest they be used to reach a new weight initially. I think you need to reduce their use once you can do the new weight without them if at all possible.

People ask what I do for forearms. I don't do anything but avoid relying on straps for everything. If you lift heavy enough, your grip work will get enough from it.



I love shrugs, and developing the traps will set you apart from others very easily.


agreed again. But, people dont' ask what I do for forearms, lol. I think they're in great proportion to my biceps though.


I love shrugs, I was having trouble locking out my heavier deadlifts until I did shrugs on a regular basis. plus big traps just look good.


What kind of ROM do you do though? This may sound like a nitpicking "TUT" kind of question, but I think it makes a big difference. I used to try to shrug all the way up, til my shoulders are almost touching my ear lobes, but most legitimately big guys I see doing them pile on a ton of weight, use straps, and only move the bar a couple inches.


Always got more from dumbell shrugs than barbell. Got a better feel with the barbell using hanging cleans for reps.


sometimes i like em sometimes i dont. i try doing them at the end of my workouts now but i just cant because my grip is so dead from rackpulls and closegrip pulldowns. my grip is dead, my hands are cut up. but theyre good. theyre a classic exercise. theyre simple to do, and they work. what else can ya really say? if your grip sucks just keep at it and itll improve. itll get your forearms all swo' too.


I think you may be missing a very fundamental concept. When you have really big traps, you CAN'T touch your fucking ears. I go up as far as my traps will allow, which to some newbie may not seem like as much movement. That doesn't mean it isn't VERY effective, especially with the weights I am using.

The significance of full range of motion has been blown drastically out of proportion, especially when it concerns someone who is already big.

Ronnie Coleman would not be able to touch his ears with his shoulders no matter how hard he tried.


On a related note to the full ROM question, I was watching Ronnie Coleman's Cost of Redemption dvd this morning before work and his range of motion for even things like abs would look very limited to a newbie. What they would be missing is that at his size, not only are his abs working MUCH harder than anything someone 150lbs less has ever experienced, but because of his overall mass, he is actually getting more from that movement even though it looks like he isn't moving very much.

I think the bottom line is, if they got big by doing it, it can NOT be wrong for them. That also doesn't mean a much smaller person needs to train the same.


What variation of shrugs have some of you found best? Does it just depend on the person?


I used barbells until they made the hammer strength shrug machine. That is all I use now but I would not recommend a beginner start there. Someone just starting needs to experience other benefits of using a bar or dumbbell, like grip strength and posture when doing the movement.


What do you guys think of power shrugs? I've been throwing in extremely heavy power shrugs at the end of my shoulder day, and I love them.


yeah actually on this, i saw a youtube vid of ronnie coleman doing squats, but only the bottom half of the movement, as long as the ROM you are using is working the muscle group you want to focus on, then it'll work great.


X, how much weight you are talking about?

I ask because people often use the example of "if you are already hitting your traps with 550 rack pulls, shrugs with 225 will do nothing...", but i think someone who pulls that kind of weights, will use way more than 225 on shrugs.

I never did much shrugs, but recently i was considering doing 1 or 2 sets of high reps after deadlifts to see what happens.


I like heavy barbell shrugs done "power shrug" style...this is basically using a bit of leg drive to allow for much heavier loads and you try to hold at the top of the movement (even though you can't - the point is to TRY to hold it at the top).