Bent Over Barbell Shrugs: Advanced Exercise for the Trapezius Muscles

Barbell shrugs are a popular exercise for the trapezius muscles, but if you lean forward about 15-30 degrees you will turn regular barbell shrugs into an advanced trap exercise.

Regular barbell shrugs are a great exercise for the upper traps, but when you lean forward slightly you can increase the range of motion and work your upper trapezius even harder, while adding in the middle trapezius.

When you lean forward about 15-30 degrees, you change the motion from purely elevation of the scapula to elevation and retraction (pulling the shoulder blades backwards).

The retraction motion will recruit in the middle traps to work with the upper traps.

Also, when you lean forward the shoulders naturally shift downwards and forwards, so your trapezius will work through a greater range of motion when compared with regular barbell shrugs.

Don't get me wrong, I love barbell shrugs, but if you want a little more challenge try bent over degree barbell shrugs.

Trapezius Exercises: 15-30 Degree Barbell Shrugs

Starting Position: Begin by holding on to a barbell with an overhand grip about shoulder width apart. Then, lean forwards slightly (anywhere from 15-30 degrees), and keep a slight bend in your knees.

Form: Exhale and shrug your shoulders straight up towards the ceiling. Hold for a brief second at the top and then slowly lower to the starting position.

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Personal Trainer Tips: This exercise is much harder than regular barbell shrugs, so you should try it with a lower weight than you would normally use for regular barbell shrugs.

This exercise also places extra pressure on the lower back. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. The bent over position is great for building up lower back strength, but if you have lower back problems build up the weight slowly and listen to your body.

Make sure that you keep your back in a neutral alignment and only bend forward from the hips.


There are many different ways to work the trapezius muscles, but shrugs are the most popular way to work the traps. If you've only done regular barbell or dumbbell shrugs, try adding in some different trap exercises in your workout.

Yours in Health,
Dr. Charles PT/PT

Learn the Best Trapezius Exercises for the Trapezius Muscles

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