The power shrug is also called a low-pull from the hang, or “clean extension from the hang” in Olympic lifting terms. Whatever you call it, it’s a very effective movement to build up your upper traps.
Compared to regular shrugs, the power shrug reduces the involvement of the levator scapulae, which is a small muscle that helps the upper trapezius elevate the scapula (shrug the shoulders up). That muscle is more prone to inflammation resulting in pain in the neck or head. The power shrug involves the levator scapulae less and the upper traps more. Even though you’re handling more weight compared to strict shrugs, it’s a safer movement.
How To Do It
- Use a slight lower back action with help from the calves to create momentum to start the weight up.
- Immediately shrug your shoulders up as hard as possible. Hold the contracted (top) position for a second or two to increase the time under load.
You can use power shrugs as a stand-alone movement. Do 5-8 reps. Or do them at the end of a set of regular barbell shrugs: perform 6-8 heavy strict shrugs followed by 4-6 power shrugs once fatigue prevents you from doing the strict movement. As a bonus you’ll actually get some core and calf work out of this exercise.