Shrugs with dumbbells and barbell - development of the upper back

Shrugs or shrugs are a classic exercise for developing the trapezius muscles located in the upper back. Most athletes prefer dumbbell shrugs. They can also be done with a barbell, in the simulator or on the uneven bars. Exercise is suitable for athletes with a level of training above the average, using an isolated study of even small muscle groups. For beginners, as a rule, the load that the trapezes receive when performing basic exercises is enough.

The work of muscles and the benefits of exercise

First of all, it’s worth understanding how the exercise affects the muscles and what advantages it gives us to perform.

The target muscle group for this exercise is trapezium. These are paired muscles located in the upper back, just below the neck. They are called trapezoidal for some (very conditional) similarity with the geometric figure of the same name.

Shrugs with dumbbells and barbell - development of the upper back
The muscles involved in the exercise.

The function of the trapezius muscles is to press the shoulder blades and bring them closer to the spine. This function helps us to maintain an even posture and not to stoop. The upper part of the trapezium lifts the shoulders, preventing them from “sagging” under the influence of weight and thereby allowing us to lift weights.

Actually, from the above functions the advantages obtained due to the development of training of this muscle group follow:

  • The stoop decreases, the posture becomes straighter, which visually makes the shoulders wider and increases growth.
  • You get good help when lifting significant weights.

    This affects not only the results in basic exercises, but also on a simple everyday level - to bring large bags from the store, for example.

  • The upper back will look bulkier and more prominent.
  • When performing the exercise with a barbell on your shoulders, you will better control the position of the bar, as it rests against the trapezoid area.

Along with the trapezius muscles, the rhomboid muscles and the muscles that raise the scapula participate in the movement. Various shrug options may also involve deltoids and pectoral muscles.

It is better to refrain from performing scars in the presence of injuries of the shoulder girdle, problems with the neck or spine. The best solution is to consult your doctor first. Perhaps a low-weight exercise will be recommended for therapeutic purposes.

It is not recommended to use heavy weights when performing shrubs, as this, firstly, reduces the effectiveness of the exercise, distributing the load across all muscle groups, instead of an isolated effect on the trapeze, and secondly, creates a traumatic impact on the shoulder girdle and spine.

Technique of execution and variation

As mentioned above, the most popular option exercises are shrugs with dumbbells standing.

Let's figure out how to perform them correctly, and also consider variations of the barbell exercise (including shrugs with the barbell behind your back, lying on a bench and in an incline), on simulators and on parallel bars.

Standing shrugs

The technique of the exercise is quite simple, however, it should be carefully worked out on a low weight and, only then, move on to a more serious one burdening.

  1. Take the dumbbells and lower your arms to the sides of the body. The palms are directed towards the body. Do not relax the shoulder girdle and do not allow the shoulders to sag under the influence of weight.

    You must fully control weights. Put your feet shoulder-width apart, straighten your back, look in front of you.

  2. As you exhale, lift the stove up as high as possible. Do not take them back and forth and do not make any unnecessary movements - only vertical lifting up. Hold at the peak point for 1-2 seconds.

  3. Slowly and controlledly lower the weight down. Do not throw the dumbbells in a jerk, since such an action actually pulls the arms out of the joints. At the lower point of the muscle, do not relax, do not allow them to stretch excessively - this is also traumatic. To make it easier to control the amplitude of movement (lower point) - you can stand between two stands of the corresponding height.
  4. Repeat the desired number of times.

It is recommended to do 10-12 reps in 3-4 sets.

For the sake of variety and in the absence of dumbbells of suitable weight, you can do shrugs with a barbell standing. It is better to use the barbell with a curved bar, since it is not so handy to perform movement with a straight bar.

  1. Take the bar with a direct grip at shoulder width. The exercise is conveniently performed in the power frame, setting the clamps so that in the lower position of the bar you do not have to stretch the muscles.

    You can also use drawers or other stands to limit the amplitude of movement. The position of the body should be even, shoulders are straightened, the gaze is directed forward.

  2. Raise your shoulders up, hold for 1-2 seconds and lower them down in a controlled way.

Another exercise option is shrugs with a barbell behind your back. The technique in this case is the same, only you hold the bar not in front of the body, but behind it.

You can try for a change, but this option is by no means the most convenient.

Shrugs with dumbbells and barbell - development of the upper back
Shrugs with a barbell behind his back.

Shrugs on an inclined bench

The option of doing the exercise while sitting or standing on an incline is optimally suited to combat stoop. It forces you not only to raise your shoulders, but also to reduce your shoulder blades as much as possible.

Prepare the bench, set the angle of inclination to 45 degrees.

On the bench you need to lie on your stomach so that your head and chin remain free. You can stand on an incline or do the exercise while sitting on the horizontal part of the bench. In the first case, the legs are slightly bent, in the second they are bent at a right angle and stand stably on the sides of the bench.

Shrugs with dumbbells and barbell - development of the upper back
Running on an incline bench. You can do the exercise while standing or sitting on the short part of the bench.

The exercise is done with dumbbells or with a bar with a straight bar (the curve bar will rest against the bench). You can do it in the power frame by putting the bench inside.

Shrugs lying

This embodiment of the exercise makes the pectoral muscles additionally work. Place a horizontal bench inside the frame, lie on your back with it, as with a bench press. Take the barbell with a straight grip at shoulder width.

You do not need to put your hands wider than your shoulders - this is fraught with injuries.

Shrugs with dumbbells and barbell - development of the upper back
Performing with a barbell lying on your back.

At the lower point of the movement, you hold the barbell above you in straight arms. At the same time, the shoulder blades are minimized and pressed to the back. Next, you press the bar up, lifting your shoulders from the bench and spreading your shoulder blades.

Help yourself by tensioning the pectoral muscles and reducing them to each other. The amplitude of the movement will be small, but it is quite enough.

When performing the exercise, the head should not be torn off the bench.

Shrugs on the parallel bars

If you are training on parallel bars, why not use them to perform the shrugs?

Take a position on straight arms on the parallel bars. The body should be vertical and not deviate from this position throughout the exercise.

In the starting position, you stay straight without sagging and without pulling your head into your shoulders. At the exit, push the case up, on inspiration, return to the starting position.

Shrugs on the uneven bars, as well as options with dumbbells and a bar, perfectly strengthen the trapezius muscles. Just as a burden you use the weight of your own body. If at some point it becomes insufficient, you can always add kilos by wearing, for example, a weighted vest.

Variants using simulators

In fact, "shrug" can be done in any simulator that allows you to perform this movement. For example, it may be a simulator for working out the calf muscles. Only you shrug not your calves, but your shoulders. Hands in this case are simply lowered along the body.

Shrugs with dumbbells and barbell - development of the upper back
Use of the simulator for the calf muscles.

Also, sometimes shrugs are done in the simulator for traction to the belt, with emphasis on the chest. Only traction is done at the expense of the shoulders, and not at the expense of bending the arms at the elbows.

Important technical points

Regardless of which type of shrug you are doing and which one you use weights, follow the rules below. This will help prevent injuries and improve your workout.

  • Do not rotate the shoulder joints while moving.

    This will not give tangible benefits, but you can easily damage your shoulders.

  • Do not be tempted to raise weight due to biceps (triceps, when lying down). Hands always remain straight at the elbows.
  • Avoid jerking and losing weight. The course of the projectile should be smooth and completely controlled throughout the entire amplitude.

  • Your muscles should not experience strong stretching at the bottom. Yes, the stronger we stretch the muscle, the greater the amplitude of its movement and the stronger it works, but in this exercise stretching at the lower point is fraught with serious injuries. Therefore, we sacrifice a little amplitude, but remain healthy and efficient.
  • Keep your back straight. When working with weights, the direct position of the spine is especially important.

  • Do not turn your neck to the side or lower or lower your head. Correct technique implies a straight head position.

By doing the exercise correctly, you can make your workouts as effective and safe as possible. Shrugs with dumbbells standing, with a barbell on an incline, in the simulator or on the bars will help you develop your upper back, get rid of stoop and increase your performance in other strength exercises.

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