Still doing shrugs for trapezius development? Ready to crank it up a notch, build some trap size, strengthen your thoracic erectors, train your core, and develop some rapid total body conditioning? Then add overhead shrugs to your program!


Hold the bar overhead as if you'd just completed a shoulder press. Stretch your traps by bringing your shoulders down. Keep the arms locked and the bar overhead. The trunk must be kept tight. While keeping a tight posture, bring the shoulders up by contracting the traps; the shoulders must go up in a straight line. Hold the highest position for two seconds, squeezing your traps as hard as you can.

Paul Chek, corrective and high-performance exercise kinesiologist, suggests you start with a weight you could comfortably military press for about 10 reps. Press it overhead and practice shrugging it six to eight times.

A grip slightly narrower than a snatch grip will provide optimal mechanics. If you feel like your muscles or joints are binding, try moving your hands inward or outward until you find a natural groove for your body mechanics.

The Overhead Dumbbell Shrug

After you master the overhead barbell shrug, try this dumbbell variation from Christian Thibaudeau. Simply start the weight with your arms parallel to the floor, thumbs facing upward. From that position, contract your traps to raise the shoulders and lift your arms upward at the same time. Hold the fully contracted position for 2-3 seconds and go back down.

You won't need a lot of weight for these; five to fifteen pound dumbbells should do it!

Choose a variation and try it out this week!