Why Rolling Your Shoulders During Shrugs Is Bad

October 27, 2017
Why Rolling Your Shoulders During Shrugs Is Bad

Have you seen people doing it and have asked why rolling your shoulders during shrugs is bad? Well the answer can be quite a simple one. Think about the muscle that you are trying to work. Using shrugs as an exercise is aimed specifically at targeting the trapezius muscle. Scapular elevation is what you should be trying to achieve.

When someone wants to work their “traps” (trapezius muscle) they assume that shrugging is the only way forward. The trapezius muscle is a large muscle, which extends from the base of the head to the lower back. There are different parts to this muscle, and each of these parts are worked with a different ROM (Range Of Motion).

The Range Of Motion

When you do shrugs as an exercise, the range of motion is very simple, as it works solely off gravity. What you should be doing is a basic lift which constitutes an up and down movement. The weight, which is either a barbell or dumbbell, will be hanging down, either on your thighs, or next to them.

You will be lifting the weight straight upwards (with your arms straight), as if you were trying to touch your shoulders together at the top. Understand that their is a downward resistance on the shoulders in a vertical plane.

This is important for the exercise. Any other position that you place your arms in and let them hang loose, other than vertical, will have no resistance on the “traps”. Not to mention your centre of gravity will be offset.

To work your muscles against the resistance that is being placed upon them, you will need to understand where the resistance starts. In this case, it is from the bottom and in the vertical plane. So from this position, simply lift the weight straight upwards in the same plane.

Once you reach the top, you will squeeze your “traps” together for a second, then lowering it back down to the start position.

Shrugging-Range-Of-MotionWhy Rolling Your Shoulders During Shrugs Is Bad

Apart from running the risk of injury, there is no benefit to rolling your shoulders. As it a gravity based exercise, where would the benefit come from if you roll your shoulders? Think about it for a minute.

One you reach the top of the ROM, where does the weight go next? It goes downwards, but at this point it stops the tension on the muscle you are trying to work.

None of the professional bodybuilders roll their shoulders do they? So why should you? Understanding the muscle that you are trying to work during the exercise is vital to the success of it’s development. It is important for you to know exactly what you should be doing in order to develop those muscles.


To sum up this article on why rolling your shoulders during shrugs is bad, keep it simple. If you see someone rolling their shoulders, it is up to them. There is no benefit from it, so don’t feel you need to do it.

Why complicate a really simple exercise? You will find that certain muscles, or at least part of the muscles, only have a very short ROM. This is the range in which they work. So keep it this way.

As Kai Greene once said. “Become The Set”. Feel each muscle fiber work during the set. Once you tune in to the muscle that is being worked, you will feel when there is no longer tension placed on it. This is how muscles are developed. Time under tension and full range of motion.

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