Smith Machine Shrug: How To Do and Muscles Worked

The Smith machine shrug is perhaps the go-to movement for toning or adding mass to the trapezius muscle, specifically the upper traps.

This exercise leverages the Smith machine’s key advantage: fixed rails that guide the barbell. This stability allows you to concentrate on the shrugging motion and maximize the work done by your traps. It may let you lift more weight because you can focus on lifting (shrugging) the weight instead of balancing.

Smith machine shrugs are typically performed with moderate to high repetitions (8-12 reps or more) and can be incorporated into shoulder—or trap-focused workouts.

Smith Machine Shrugs Muscles Worked

The Smith machine shrugs, primarily training the Upper Trapezius. In addition to its target, the main upper trap muscles. The Smith machine involves several other muscles, including the Middle Trapezius, Levator Scapulae and Rhomboids

Smith Machine Shrugs Muscles Worked

How To Do Shrug On Smith Machine

  1. Stand inside the Smith machine with your feet shoulder-width apart. The barbell should be positioned at waist height.
  2. Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your palms should be facing your body.
  3. Stand up straight, keeping your core engaged and your back neutral.
  4. Lift your shoulders toward your ears as high as possible while keeping your arms straight.
  5. Hold the contracted position briefly, emphasizing the squeeze in your upper back muscles.
  6. Slowly lower your shoulders back down to the starting position in a controlled manner.
  7. Do 8–10 reps and 3–4 sets.
Smith Machine Shrug

Best Tips and Forms for Machine Shrug

  • Focus on lifting the weight with your traps, not by your biceps.
  • Stand up straight with your core engaged and your back in a neutral position.
  • Pausing at the top of the smith shrug makes the exercise more challenging, and you’ll get more out of it.
  • The shrug is a simple up-and-down movement; don’t roll your shoulders—it doesn’t provide any extra muscle stimulation and actually increases the chance of getting hurt.
  • Avoid letting the weight drop or bouncing at the bottom of the movement.
  • Exhale when you lift your shoulders and inhale when you lower them.
  • Don’t bend your elbow as you lift weights. Keep your arms straight as you try to touch your traps to your ears.
Smith Machine Shrug
Know More: Shrug Exercise: Benefits, Variations, Muscles Used, Tips

Smith Shrug Variations

Several variations of Smith machine shrugs offer unique benefits and can help target different areas of the upper back.

1. Smith Machine Behind-the-Back Shrug

Behind-the-Back Smith Machine Shrugs are a variation of the traditional shrugs, where you exercise with the barbell behind your back.

In this variation, an additional emphasis is placed on the lower trapezius muscles.

It is usually performed for moderate to high reps, such as 8–12 reps per set or more, as part of shoulder or trap-focused training.

Smith Machine Behind-the-Back Shrug

How To Do

  1. Make sure the Smith machine barbell is at the right height.
  2. Hold the unlatched bar in a Smith machine with an overhand grip on the back of your thighs.
  3. Your hands and your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
  4. Lift your shoulders toward your ears as high as possible.
  5. Hold the contraction for a second and then lower the bar back to its starting position.

2. One Arm Smith Machine Shrug

One-Arm Smith machine shrugs allow you to address any strength or size imbalances between the left and right trapezius muscles.

It helps you focus on one side at a time, will ensure balanced development, and improve overall symmetry.

One Arm Machine Shrug

How To Do

  1. Stand inside the Smith machine with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip using only one hand.
  3. Lift your shoulder on the side of the arm you’re working with up as high as possible.
  4. Hold this position for a while. Then, lower your arm back down in a controlled manner.
  5. Repeat the exercise for the desired repetitions, then switch to the other arm.
Know More: Upright Row: Muscle Worked, Form, Benefits, Variations

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