Cable Shrug: An Easy Alternative To Dumbbell And Barbell Shrugs

Are you feeling like your upper traps just won’t grow? Are you tired of doing ineffective exercises that are supposed to target those stubborn muscles? Don’t worry, because you are not alone. Many gym-goers struggle with getting the right amount of activation in their upper traps, and often get frustrated with their lack of progress. The good news is that you don’t have to give up on your goals just yet. If you haven’t already tried the cable shrug, then you may have been missing out on a key exercise that can make all the difference. In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of the cable shrug and how to properly execute it to maximize your upper trap gains. By the end, you’ll be one step closer to achieving those defined traps you’ve been dreaming of!

Cable Shrug Summary

Graphic image of a fit man performing alternate cable triceps extensions.

Cable Shrug Instructions

  • Start by setting up a straight bar attached to a low pulley.
  • Next, stand close to the pulley and grasp the straight bar with a shoulder-width grip.
  • Elevate your shoulders as high as possible, keeping your arms straight down and locked.
  • Lower your shoulders and the bar and then repeat.
  • Continue for a set of 8-12 or do some holds at the top for greater muscle fatigue.

Video Tutorial

Cable Shrug - The Proper Lift - BPI Sports

Cable Shrug Muscles

Target (Agonist)


Dynamic Stabilizers

  • None


Antagonist Stabilizers

  • None
Image of the skeletal muscular system with the muscles used in the cable shrug exercise highlighted in red and the rest in blue.

Benefits of Cable Shrug

The cable shrug is an effective exercise to target the trapezius muscle (upper). This exercise allows you to use heavier weight than a traditional shrug, while still maintaining control over the range of motion. This helps to maximize the time under tension of the trapezius muscle, which promotes hypertrophy and strength gains. Cable shrugs also help to promote stability in the shoulder girdle and support proper posture when done correctly. In addition, this exercise can help to increase the rate of recovery of the upper trapezius after injury or strain.

Tips for Performing Cable Shrug

You’ve come to the right place if you’re motivated to enhance your cable shrug execution. These tips will allow you to fully benefit from this first-class exercise and make the best of its results. In addition to building your traps muscles, increasing mobility, and also a lower chance of injury can all be accomplished with this exercise. So let’s begin now and see what these suggestions may accomplish for you.

  • Keep your back straight and core engaged: Keeping your back straight and core engaged during the exercise will help you maintain proper form and prevent injury. This will also help you get the most out of the exercise.
  • Use a light weight: Using a light weight will allow you to focus on proper form and make sure you’re not putting too much strain on your shoulders and back. This will also ensure that you’re getting a good workout without risking injury.
  • Don’t rush through the exercise: Taking your time during the exercise will help you get the most out of it and make sure you’re engaging all of the correct muscles. Taking your time can also be encouraging to your audience, who will likely be getting tired after a few repetitions.

Benefits and Tips Video

How To: Build your Traps with CABLE SHRUGS by Trainer Johnny

Frequent Mistakes To Avoid

Staying away from errors might be the difference between a productive training session and an injury when executing cable shrug. Additionally, in order to maximize your benefits of the exercise, proper form is essential. Through avoiding common errors, you can improve your ability to achieve your desired results. Don’t worry, though, it’s not nearly as hard as it might seem. You can execute the exercise safely and effectively by avoiding the mistakes to prevent and by executing the correct steps. Let’s start by avoiding these typical mistakes and add this exercise to your training regimen.

  • Not using proper form: Proper form should be used when conducting Cable Shrugs in order to ensure that the exercise is performed correctly and safely. If incorrect form is used, it can lead to injury and decrease the effectiveness of the exercise.
  • Not providing proper guidance: It is important to provide clear guidance and explanation to the audience regarding how to correctly perform the exercise. Without proper instruction, participants may not understand the exercise correctly, leading to frustration and a decreased likelihood of achieving desired fitness results.
  • Not encouraging participants: It is important to encourage participants throughout the exercise to ensure they remain motivated and engaged in order to achieve the desired fitness results. Without encouragement, participants may become easily discouraged and potentially give up on the exercise entirely.

Find More Cable Exercises Here

Variations and Complementary Exercises

For those looking to add variety to their training program, there are several variations, complementary, and alternative exercises for the Cable Shrug that work similar muscles. These exercises can be used interchangeably with the Cable Shrug in order to keep your workout interesting and challenging.

Barbell Shrug

Graphic image of Barbell Shrug.

Barbell Shrug is an excellent alternative or complementary exercise for the exercise Cable Shrug. The barbell shrug involves a lifter taking hold of a barbell with both hands, palms facing down, and raising their shoulders towards the sky while keeping their arms straight. This exercise works the traps and upper back muscles, making it an effective way to build strength and size. Barbell shrugs also provide an extra challenge for lifters, as the weight of the barbell can be increased to increase the difficulty of the exercise.

Shrugs With Bands

Graphic image of Shrugs With Bands.

Shrugs With Bands are a great complementary or alternative exercise to Cable Shrugs. This exercise requires resistance bands instead of weights and can be done almost anywhere. Shrugs With Bands provide more range of motion than Cable Shrugs, allowing you to increase the tension throughout the entire movement. The bands also provide a more dynamic way to target the upper traps and neck muscles, which makes them great for athletes who are looking to improve posture or mobility. Additionally, Shrugs With Bands can be used as part of a warm-up routine, making them a great choice for athletes of any level.

Dumbbell Shrug

Graphic image of Dumbbell Shrug.

Dumbbell Shrug is a great complementary or alternative exercise to Cable Shrug. It is an isolation exercise that specifically targets the trapezius muscles and helps build strength in the upper back and neck. The motion of the dumbbell shrug is similar to that of the cable shrug, but it requires more stability and balance as the weight is distributed differently. This exercise can be done with one or two dumbbells, depending on the desired intensity, and can be incorporated into any upper body workout routine.

Check Out These Top Cable Exercises

Smith Machine Shrug

Graphic image of Smith Machine Shrug.

The Smith Machine Shrug is an effective exercise to target the trapezius muscles, and can be a great complementary or alternative exercise to the Cable Shrug. The Smith Machine Shrug is performed with a barbell attached to a Smith Machine, and is done by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. You then lift the barbell up to your shoulders and hold for two seconds before slowly lowering it back to the starting position. This exercise is great for targeting the trapezius muscles and can help improve shoulder mobility and strength. Additionally, it can be used as an alternative to the Cable Shrug, since it requires less equipment and can be done with lighter weights, making it more accessible to those who don’t have access to a cable machine.

Barbell Standing Upright Row

Graphic image of Barbell Standing Upright Row.

The Barbell Standing Upright Row is a great alternative or complementary exercise to the Cable Shrug. It involves standing upright with feet shoulder-width apart, and holding a barbell in both hands with palms facing downward. The barbell should be held at arms length in front of the body, slightly below the waist level. From this position, the arms are then raised upwards towards the shoulders, and the elbows should be kept close to the body during the movement. This exercise works the same muscles as the Cable Shrug, namely the trapezius, rhomboids, and deltoids. It can also target the biceps and forearms to a lesser degree.

Barbell Wide Grip Upright Row

Graphic image of Barbell Wide Grip Upright Row.

The Barbell Wide Grip Upright Row is a great alternative or complementary exercise to the Cable Shrug. This exercise primarily works the trapezius muscles, while also engaging the biceps, deltoids, and rhomboids. It involves holding a barbell with a wide grip, palms facing down, and lifting it up to your chin. When performing this exercise, it’s important to keep your shoulders back and your elbows pointing outwards to ensure the best results. This exercise can be a great alternative or addition to the Cable Shrug for targeting the trapezius muscles, as it works more of the upper back muscles.

Find More Neck Exercises Here

Opposing Complementary Exercises

In addition to Cable Shrugs, there are several other exercises that can be used to complement the exercise and work the opposite muscle groups. These exercises include:

Barbell Bent Arm Pullover

Graphic image of Barbell Bent Arm Pullover.

The Barbell Bent Arm Pullover is an excellent complementary exercise to the Cable Shrug. This exercise works the opposite muscle group, the lats, while the Cable Shrug targets the traps. The Barbell Bent Arm Pullover requires you to lie on your back, with your arms bent at 90 degrees and elbows close to your body. You then pull the barbell up towards your chin and back down until your arms are fully extended. This exercise is great for increasing back strength and size, while still providing a good stretch to the chest and shoulders. When combined with the Cable Shrug, it will create a well-rounded back workout that will help build both strength and size.

Barbell Decline Bent Arm Pullover

Graphic image of Barbell Decline Bent Arm Pullover.

The Barbell Decline Bent Arm Pullover is an excellent exercise to pair with Cable Shrugs as it complements the opposing muscle group. This exercise works the lats and chest by having the lifter lie back on a decline bench and hold a barbell above the chest with arms bent at 90 degrees. The lifter then lowers the bar behind the head and back up to the starting position, working the lats and chest to complete the movement. Cable Shrugs, on the other hand, work the upper trapezius, which is a muscle group that helps with stability and posture. By pairing these two exercises together, you can create an effective and balanced workout for the back and shoulders.

Chin Up

Graphic image of Chin Up.

Chin Up is a great exercise to complement Cable Shrug as it focuses on the opposite muscle group. Chin Ups are a compound exercise that primarily works the muscles of the back, biceps, and grip strength. This exercise is a great way to develop upper body strength and build muscle mass in the back. It also helps to strengthen the core by stabilizing the body while performing the movement. The opposite of the Cable Shrug, Chin Ups will help to create an overall balanced look to your upper body.

Get Stronger with Cable Shrugs!

If you’re looking to build a stronger upper back, cable shrugs are a great exercise to add to your routine. By using a cable machine, you can isolate and target your trapezius muscles with controlled resistance. Cable shrugs can also be adjusted to suit your fitness level, making them a versatile exercise for beginners and advanced lifters alike. Incorporating cable shrugs into your workout can improve your overall posture, increase your grip and forearm strength, and help prevent injuries by building a strong upper back. Plus, you’ll feel empowered and confident as you grow stronger with each rep.

References: Wikipedia | | | Comprehensive List of Neck Cable Exercises

Pin image for cable shrug post. With an image of a man performing the exercise on Top and a graphic of the exercise on the Bottom.

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