Behind-The-Back Barbell Shrug

Exercise / Traps

Behind-the-Back Barbell Shrug overview

The Behind-the-Back Barbell Shrug is a targeted exercise designed to develop the trapezius muscles, particularly the upper traps. This movement involves lifting a barbell behind your back, emphasizing the contraction of the muscles responsible for shoulder elevation. Explore the specifications, step-by-step instructions, and variations to optimize the benefits of the Behind-the-Back Barbell Shrug in your trap and upper body training routine.

The Behind-the-Back Barbell Shrug primarily targets the trapezius muscles.

Behind-the-Back Barbell Shrug how to perform

  • Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell with an overhand grip behind your back, hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  • Step 2: Allow the barbell to hang down, arms fully extended.
  • Step 3: Inhale and lift your shoulders toward your ears, emphasizing the contraction of the upper traps.
  • Step 4: Elevate your shoulders as high as possible, keeping the arms straight.
  • Step 5: Exhale and lower the shoulders back down to the starting position, fully extending your arms.


Perform each repetition with controlled movements, focusing on the contraction of the trapezius muscles.

Starting position

Final position

CAUTION: Rember to consult with a fitness professional or healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions.

Exercise Tips

  • Maintain a straight back and engaged core throughout the movement.
  • Keep the barbell close to your body to target the upper traps effectively.
  • Lift the shoulders directly upward, avoiding excessive forward or backward movement.
  • Use a weight that challenges you while allowing for proper form.


  1. Barbell Shrug to the Front: Lift the barbell to the front instead of behind your back for a different angle of muscle engagement.
  2. Dumbbell Shrug: Perform the exercise using dumbbells for a unilateral approach and increased range of motion.
  3. Smith Machine Behind-the-Back Shrug: Utilize a Smith Machine for added stability and control.
  4. Cable Behind-the-Back Shrug: Use a cable machine with a straight bar attachment for constant tension.