How To Do Barbell Shrugs

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How To Do Barbell Shrugs

It’s a common misconception that all upper body exercises require lengthy, exaggerated motions to get a full, balanced and impactful workout. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, many harder to target groups of muscles, such as the upper shoulders, back of the neck and between the shoulder blades would be injured by exaggerated motions working them. 

Unfortunately, that mindset has resulted in people overlooking more subtle sets like barbell shrugs. The barbell shrug is very good for working those upper back muscles in a controlled and safe way, with additional advantages of helping to strengthen grip, elbows, and to help train your body for more controlled, precise motions. 

That said, let’s take a look at the front barbell shrug, which when paired with the back barbell shrug, can work wonders on these more difficult muscle groups. 

What You Need 

All you need is a balanced barbell. It’s a good idea to also have a mat, to reduce the strain on your feet, ankles and shins. Remember, this barbell will add significant weight to your stance, so you should be as kind to your legs and feet as possible. 

Barbell Shrugs Muscles Worked

Trapezius animation small2.gif
By Anatomography – en:Anatomography (setting page of this image)., CC BY-SA 2.1 jp, Link


  • Stand up straight. Spread your feet to about shoulder width apart. Grip the barbell, palms facing inward, a little more than shoulder width apart. 
  • Keeping your elbows completely straight, lift with your shoulders as high as they will comfortably permit. 
  • Hold this position and grip the bar tightly, before gently lowering it back down – DO NOT let gravity do this for you. 


As always, remember to not overdo the weight on the barbell. You don’t need ridiculous amounts of weight to work your muscles, no matter how strong you are. If you have back or knee problems, check with your doctor before trying exercises like this, and if they okay it, wear braces. 

To learn more about trouble muscle groups and exercises like this that can help target them, fill out our contact form or call us today!

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