- Neck: Trapezius muscle
Shrugs: Basics and alternatives
Involved main muscle groups:
Shrugs are a great exercise for targeting your neck muscles. All you need to do is hold dumbbells and lift your shoulders. While other neck exercises like the seated row or lat pulldown also work your upper back, shoulders, and arms, shrugs are designed specifically for your neck muscles.
You can try different variations of shrugs, such as barbell shrugs, incline bench shrugs, cable shrugs, and for home use, resistance band shrugs. They all have the same basic movement, but dumbbell shrugs are considered the most natural due to your arm position.
When performing dumbbell shrugs, you can’t adjust the grip width like you can with barbell shrugs. The weights should be at your sides, with your palms facing each other and towards your body.
There are two ways to do shrugs: either keep your shoulder blades together throughout the exercise, or let your shoulder blades move towards your ears as you lift your shoulders.
The following instructions are for the constant shoulder blade squeeze method. For the second option, check out barbell shrugs, which can also be done with dumbbells.
Grab a dumbbell in each hand.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your back straight.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together. The dumbbells should be at your sides, palms facing each other and towards your body. This is the starting position.
Raise the dumbbells straight up by lifting your shoulders. Keep your shoulder blades squeezed together. The movement should only come from your shoulders. Hold for a brief moment, then slowly and carefully lower the weights back to the starting position.
When doing shrugs, make sure to only move the weights by lifting your shoulders. Avoid bending your knees and using leg extension to swing the weight up.
Also, steer clear of swinging the weights or making small circular movements, as this can reduce the effectiveness of the workout and put stress on your shoulder joints. Move slowly and in control, and lower the weight if needed.