Shrugs: Straight Up and Down or a Rolling Shoulder Motion?

Many of us copy form that we commonly see others using in the gym, and that approach has clobbered many a good movement. Rotator-cuff exercises done with a dumbbell and the confusion between conventional and Romanian deadlifts come to mind. Another one is common to the family of shrug exercises: does it matter if you roll your shoulders or is it better to use an up-and-down motion?
MuscleTech Staff
MuscleTech Staff
Shoulder shrugs

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Many of us copy form that we commonly see others using in the gym, and that approach has clobbered many a good movement. Rotator-cuff exercises done with a dumbbell and the confusion between conventional and Romanian deadlifts come to mind. Another one is common to the family of shrug exercises: does it matter if you roll your shoulders or is it better to use an up-and-down motion?

The upper portion of the trapezius muscle elevates the shoulders, and that’s most effective when the shrug is constrained to a vertical plane. Extraneous movements can increase pressure on spinal disks and are much less efficient at optimizing the engagement of upper-trap muscle fibers.

What’s super-important to remember here is to never look down. This will curve your cervical spine just as you’re holding that heavy weight. Cervical disk herniations have ended the careers of bodybuilders and powerlifters alike. Always strive to look back at yourself in the mirror!