How to Do a Shoulder Shrug

Shoulder shrugs are a great choice for those looking to strengthen their shoulders and upper arms. They are a popular exercise as they can be performed anywhere and can be modified to suit any fitness level. The exercise specifically targets the trapezii, which are located on either side of the neck and are responsible for stabilizing the neck and upper back.

This exercise helps to combat upper body tension that can be acquired from the many hours spent hunched over a screen. Everyday activities that can be improved through shoulder shrugs are lifting, reaching and bending.

How To

  • This exercise takes place in an upright, standing position with feet flat on the floor set about shoulder width apart.
  • Your arms should be by your side, with your hands relaxed and palms facing toward each other.
  • Knees should be bent slightly, but you should always be able to see your toes if you were to look down. While performing the exercise, though, you should always keep your chin up with eyes facing forward.
  • As you inhale, bring your shoulders as far up toward your ears as possible. Perform the motion slowly and concentrate on feeling the resistance of your muscles.
  • To complete the motion, exhale as you slowly lower your shoulders back down.


A good starting point is to aim for 3 repetitions of 10 as you build up your shoulder muscles.

Once you are feeling confident about your ability to perform this exercise, try increasing to 3 sets of 20.


Weighted Shrugs – Adding weights to the shoulder shrug can increase the potential of this exercise. Starting out with just 5 – 8lbs will activate the trapezius and upper back muscles. If you don’t have weights you can employ an exercise band by standing on the middle of the band and grasping both ends to add tension as you shrug your shoulders up. 

Cautionary Notes

If you have started these exercises in order to combat a neck or shoulder injury, start with fewer repetitions and avoid using weights.

Be sure that you aren’t rolling your shoulders as you perform the movement. Your shoulders should be moving straight up and down.

This exercise can be beneficial for people suffering from chronic neck pain, but you should always consult your doctor or physiotherapist before starting any new exercises.

More Lats and Trapezius Exercises

Bent-over row
Seated row
Supine row

More Shoulder Shrug Related Resources

Dumbbell Shoulder Shrug – Exercise Database | Jefit – Best Android and iPhone Workout, Fitness, Exercise and Bodybuilding App | Best Workout Tracking Software
Dumbbell Shrug | Exercise Videos & Guides |
Shoulder Shrugs: Muscles Worked, Benefits, and How To
How to Do Shoulder Shrugs the Right Way, According to Personal Trainers | GQ
5 Unique Shrugs to Get You Yoked | Muscle & Fitness

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