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What Muscles Do Shrugs Work and How To Do Shoulder Shrugs Correctly

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For professional athletes such as footballers, wrestlers, and boxers, having strong neck muscles and trapezius comes at a great benefit because, with their professionalism, it ensures a certain level of protection. However, most people within the general population wonder exactly What Muscles Do Shrugs Work on because they appear effortless and one can dismiss their significance.

Shoulder shrugs, when performed correctly, develop the trapezius and neck muscles in a balanced way. Although they look easy to execute, certain precautions should be put in place to avoid injuries. In this article, we take you through the importance, types and the specific muscles that shoulder shrugs work.

Shoulder Shrug Exercise Benefits

1.Increases your cervical spine strength and balance: Having a strong neck allows you to perform certain exercises in a better way and use more weight. These exercises include military presses and standing curls which require strong neck muscles and trapezius. Most people have a stronger and tighter upper trapezius, and by performing shoulder shrugs, it creates a balance throughout the upper, middle, and lower part of the muscle. Having imbalanced trapezius causes neck and shoulder pain and can even lead to injuries when carrying out other exercises.

2.Improves your aesthetics: Performing shoulder shrugs helps you look better by:
•Creating a better posture: If you go to the gym and work out without ever working on your trapezius and neck, you’ll end up with shoulders dropped inwards because of the weak and loose trapezius. Performing shoulder shrugs will tighten and strengthen the trapezius and neck muscles creating an upright and better posture.
•Broader shoulders: For those who want to have broader shoulders that make your waistline look smaller, then make sure you do shoulder shrugs when you workout. They build up your trapezius and neck muscles making your shoulders broader.

3.Reduces neck and back pain: the trapezius and neck muscles are connected to the upper body. As you carry out your other exercises, these muscles work as a support system, and one can end up feeling pain throughout the upper back and neck. To avoid this, you need to strengthen them by carrying out shoulder shrugs.

4.Reinforces the glenohumeral joint articulation, i.e., the joint between your scapula and humerus

What Muscles Do Shrugs Work

This is the main target of shoulder shrugs and one of the major back muscles. It runs from the middle of the back and extends to the posterior of the cervical spine (neck). The trapezius is connected to the shoulder blades and is responsible for their movement and rotation. They are also responsible for stabilizing the upper body.

Shrugs work the trapezius by contracting them during the upward motion and then relaxing them during the downward movement.

These are helper muscles engaged by your body to aid other muscles in carrying out their movement. When performing shoulder shrugs, the synergists involved are the levator scapulae. The levator scapulae are located at the side of your neck and aid in elevating the scapula. When you shrug, these muscles become stronger and more pronounced giving you the strength to carry out other exercises and better aesthetics.

Just as the name suggests, these are muscles that stabilize your position during workouts. In this case, the erector spinae act as the stabilizer muscle during shoulder shrugs.

The erector spinae runs from the tail bone to the lower part of the neck. By carrying out shoulder shrugs, this muscle is strengthened increasing your stability. Strengthening this muscle also helps reduce the risk of spinal injuries.

Also ReadWhat Muscles Do Squats Work And How to Do Squat Correctly

How to Do Shoulder Shrugs the Right Way

Although there is various equipment that you can use to do shoulder shrugs, it’s usually performed in a specific way. Here is a procedure to ensure that you do shoulder shrugs correctly:

•First, ensure that your legs are width apart as your shoulders
•Make sure that your hands hold the weight at the side of your thighs and not in front (apart from when using the barbell as the weight will be on your thighs)
•Lift your shoulders while keeping your arms straight and pause when you reach the top and squeeze the trapezius hard for a few seconds
•Lower your shoulders and repeat the process
•Note: maintain tension during the upward and downward motion for maximum effectiveness.

One mistake that most people make is rolling their shoulders. Do not roll your shoulders because it adds no value to shoulder shrugs. On the contrary, it strains the shoulder joints and may even cause injuries. Another mistake you should avoid is using more weight than you can handle. The extra weight makes it difficult to carry out shoulder shrugs correctly.


Shoulder shrugs, if done correctly, deliver fantastic results on the trapezius and neck muscles.They have many benefits starting from giving you better looks and ensuring that you are protected from injuries during other exercises. However simple they look, they should be carried out carefully as per the procedure mentioned above to ensure maximum effectiveness with no injuries.

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