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Shoulder Shrugs

The shoulder shrug is an exercise used to develop the upper trapezius muscle.

Relevant Anatomy: Trapezius is a flat, triangular muscle that spreads over the back of the neck and upper thorax. The paired trapezius muscles form a diamond shape, from which the name trapezius is derived. On each side, the muscle is attached to the medial third of the superior nuchal line, external occipital protuberance, ligamentum nuchae, and apices of the spinous processes and their supraspinous ligaments from C7 to T12. The occipital attachment is by a fibrous lamina, which is also adherent to the skin. The spinal attachment is by a broad triangular aponeurosis from the sixth cervical to the third thoracic vertebrae, and by short tendinous fibres below this.

Actions: Trapezius collaborates with other muscles in stabilization of the scapula, controlling it during movements of the arm and maintaining the level and poise of the shoulder.
Acting with levator scapulae, the upper fibres elevate the scapula and, with it, the point of the shoulder; acting with serratus anterior, the lower fibres of trapezius protract and rotate the scapula medially (upwards) so that the arm can be raised above the head; acting with the rhomboids, it retracts the scapula, bracing the shoulder. With the shoulder fixed, trapezius may bend the head and neck backwards and laterally. 

Shoulder Shrug start position
Shoulder Shrug start position
Shoulder Shrug end position
Shoulder Shrug end position


  • Stand or sit, raise shoulders upward towards ears.
  • Return to start position.
  • Hold the contraction for few seconds and repeat.