Cable Shrug: Complete Exercise Guide

If you want to build a big trap and search for the cable shrug exercise, you’ve come to the right place.

Here, you’ll find all the information you need.

Cable shrugs, also known as cable shoulder shrugs, are an isolation exercise targeting your trapezius muscles.

However, if you use a cable shoulder shrug exercises to strengthen and balance the muscles in your traps, your overall performance will improve, and you’ll be able to lift even more weight.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about 

  • How to perform the cable shrug correctly.
  • You will learn its benefits,
  • How to avoid common mistakes, and
  • What are the best variation of cable shoulder shrug and how to do them.
  • You will also learn some of the best alternatives of it.

Cable Shrug Exercises Benefits

Here are the benefits of a cable shoulder shrug exercise :

  • Cable shrugs are one of the most effective ways to increase hypertrophy in the upper back, mainly the traps.
  • Cable workouts work the shoulders in a way that makes them excellent for upper body stability and conditioning. By doing upright rows and shrugs, you will improve your position and protect yourself from injury.
  • Traps are difficult to build, and there are only a few exercises that primarily target your traps. A cable trap shrug is one of the exercises that can help you build bigger traps.
  • The shrug exercises help build strength in your upper body stabilizer muscle groups, which will help you stand up tall and keep your back straight.
  • Strengthening your traps will increase the activation of your shoulder muscles, providing better support to your head and neck. The stronger traps can help reduce neck pain.

1. Cable Shrug

The cable shrug is a variation of the shoulder shrug and one of the best upper trap cable exercises that are utilized to build the trapezius muscle of the upper back.

Cable machine shrug, one of the best exercises for isolating the traps and offers versatility to further improve development.

Cable Shrug

Muscles Worked

Primary: Trapezius, Lateral deltoid.

Secondary: Anterior delts, Infraspinatus

How To Do Shrug With Cable

  1. Grab a cable bar attachment that is attached to a low pulley. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart or slightly wider if you wish. Your hands should be facing down.
  2. Stand close to the pulley and extend your arms in front of you while holding the bar.
  3. Raise your shoulders, lift the bar as high as you possibly can. Exhale while performing this movement. Hold the contraction at the top for a second.
  4. Slowly lower the bar to its starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Cable Shrug Foam and Tips

  • Try not to move anything but your shoulders.
  • Inhale when you lower the weight and exhale when you lift.
  • Adding a pause at the top of the movement can help to enhance the mind-muscle connection.
  • Limit momentum and excessive jerking or bouncing of the weight.
  • Resist the urge to sink your neck into your shoulders by keeping your chin up. You’ll go higher with each rep.
  • Try adding a pause at the top of your shrug.
  • Always select a weight that allows you to have full control of your body throughout the movement.
  • In order to see continual progress and build body strength, incorporate proper warm-ups, rest, and nutrition into your exercise program.
  • Prevent from rolling your shoulders, as this is incorrect form and can result in injury.

Best Variations Of Cable Shrugs

The cable shrugs can be done in different ways to suit your fitness level.

If you’re new to doing cable shoulder shrugs, you may want to make the exercise easier by doing a few things differently. One way to solve this problem is to do one arm cable shrugs. Another is to use a lighter weight.

If you are looking for a more advanced variation to stimulate different muscle fibers in the trap, then try cable shrug behind the back, Cable side shrug. You could make it more challenging by using heavier weights. But pay attention to form while you’re doing the same.

1. One Arm cable shrug

The single-arm side shrug is also a good exercise to include in your training, as it allows you to focus on one side and forces the core muscle to engage. This helps to develop stability. Some people may even feel a better trap contraction with this variation. 

2. Cable shrugs behind the back

Behind the back cable shrugs, as the name suggests, is a variation performed by holding the bar behind your thighs.

It helps strengthen the traps by targeting the upper and middle portion of the muscle. For overall trap development, include both the front and reverse versions in your training regimen.

Having the bar behind you helps in keeping your shoulders pulled up and back rather than rounded forward.

Behind The Back Cable Shrug

How To Do Behind The Back Cable Shrug

  1. Stand up straight while holding a bar with an overhand grip (palms facing back) behind your thighs.
  2. Your hands and your feet should be positioned shoulder-width apart.
  3. Lift your shoulders up toward your ears as high as possible while keeping your arms straight
  4. The contraction should be held at the top for a second.
  5. Slowly lower the bar to its starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

3. Cable side shrug

It is essential to add the cable side shrug to your workout regime if you plan to use cables. There are several reasons for this.

  • It allows you to use heavier weights overall as you have one whole weight stack for each arm.
  • Your arms are naturally away from your body, which is perfect for getting a bigger muscle contraction.

How Many Sets and Reps Should I Do?

Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions to start. You can increase the number of reps as you build up your shoulder strength.

Over time, try working up to do 3 sets of 20 repetitions, 2-3 times a week.

Best Alternate Of Cable Shrug

Before we talk about the best cable shrug alternatives. We must remember that a good alternative to the shrug will be able to satisfy the following criteria:

  • Activate the trap muscle groups, which is trained in the cable shoulder shrug
  • Isolate the muscle groups during execution
  • Train the trap muscle through a wider range of motion.

Cable Upright Row

The upright row is a movement that targets many of the large muscles in the upper back and shoulders, which is key for many movements (see below) in strength, power, and fitness sports.

The cable exercise targets all of the upper, middle, and lower trap muscles.

Cable upright rows are an exercise that nearly everyone can do using a wide variety of grip widths.

Cable Upright Row

Face Pull

Face pull is a cable machine exercise that primarily targets the rear deltoid and to a lesser degree also targets the biceps, triceps, and traps. Use a cable pulley machine to pull the weight straight toward your forehead.

This exercise prevents muscular imbalance and builds overall shoulder strength. However, there are numerous variations of the face pull that you could try, each of which may require different types of equipment and a different setup.

Face Pull

Frequently Asked Question

Are Cable Shrugs Good?

Yes, the cable shrug is a good exercise for training the trapezius muscles. The primary muscle group activated during cable shrugs are your upper trapezius muscles.

The cable shrug is a great way to strengthen your upper back muscles, build traps, and improve posture.

Whether you’re a novice lifter or an experienced bodybuilder, dumbbell shrugs can strengthen your upper body.

Choose a weight that allows you to maintain good technique throughout all sets and repetitions.


The cable side shrug is a great exercise that will build muscle.  But to get the most out of your workout, we think you should use free weights, cables, and even machines that have many of the same benefits.

You should add the shrug exercise to your workout in order to build stronger traps.

Know More About Trap Training

10 Most Effective CABLE SHOULDER EXERCISES for Boulder Shoulders

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