How To Do Cable Shrug Properly

The cable shrug exercise is a variation of the standard shrug using the cable machine and is better suited for people who are used to doing drop sets or those who are not sure or comfortable with the weight they are doing.

These shrugs are a popular choice of exercise known for strengthening your shoulder muscles and upper arms too.

If your work involves sitting on a desk throughout, you likely spend a big part of your day with your neck pitched forward, your shoulders slumped, and your eyes focused on a screen in front of you.

Over time, this posture can take quite a toll on your neck and shoulder muscles. Fortunately, exercises such as this one can help to relieve muscle tension in your neck, shoulders, and upper back.

This article will cover some of the details of this exercise including, proper form and technique, benefits and its alternative exercises.


In order to perform this exercise, you will only need access to one cable pulley and either a straight bar, EZ bar, or rope attachment or simply a cable machine.

If you are using the roper and bar as your pulley, attach the bar or rope to a low point on both pulleys.

Grip the bar with your hands about shoulder-width distance apart unless using a rope, which you will hold naturally.

With your head looking forward, stand up straight and keep your shoulders neutral.

Shrug your shoulders up and back, then squeeze for a second to get a good contraction in the muscle.

Allow the weight to slowly return your arms back to the starting position until you feel a slight stretch in the trap muscle.

Repeat for desired reps.


This motion should be smooth and controlled since a rhythmed movement could result in a neck injury.

Looking slightly up while shrugging may enhance the contraction as traps help to control the movement of the skull.

The traps tend to respond well to high reps and explosive movements, for example, snatch grip high pulls. So, consider programming your accessory work accordingly.

Don’t allow your head to just lean forward excessively as you squeeze the traps, this can put it in a compromised position and result in an injury.

Adding a pause at the top of the movement can help to enhance your mind-muscle connection.


If you pay attention to the right form, this exercise can build your upper back and shoulder muscles. Adding resistance to your weight training routine can help you build the following muscle groups:


The primary muscle group activated during this routine are your upper traps. This shrug is one of the best exercises for toning your upper back muscles, building big traps, and improving your posture.


As you shrug your shoulders through the range of motion of a cable shrug, you will activate your rhomboid muscles, which are one of the main muscle groups responsible for shoulder blade mobility and stability.


This exercise activates your forearm muscles to keep the bar in hand. With practice, these shrugs can increase your grip strength and improve your performance during compound exercises like deadlifts, bench presses, and pull-ups.



This is an essential exercise which will help to develop strength and size in the traps, as it fully activates the muscle fibres of the upper back.

Not only will developed traps give you a broader physical appearance, but they will also give you strength in this area, which will help you with other compound exercises such as the squat and deadlift.

Often, weightlifters and bodybuilders tend to neglect the traps in favour of larger muscles such as the lats or pecs.

This exercise can help you build stronger traps and achieve a balanced upper body appearance.


Do you regularly get yourself in a position with your shoulders rounded and your head slouched? This position commonly occurs when we sit in a chair for long periods of time.

To prevent long term issues with posture, it is important to maintain a strong upper back.

When you do the cable shrug, you create a thicker band of muscles in your upper back, which allows you to work less in order to maintain proper posture.

This exercise can be extremely useful for correcting and maintaining proper posture in the long-run.


This exercise is one of the best exercises for strengthening the trapezius because it is an isolation exercise.

This means that it specifically targets one muscle group. Compound exercises can activate the traps, but not to the extent of an isolation exercise like the cable shrug.



Barbell Shrug is a strength exercise that will work your traps, deltoids and upper traps.

It is a great basic move, which when done correctly, it can effectively target your neck, shoulders, upper back and upper body and it requires barbell to do.


The dumbbell middle back shrug is a strength exercise that works your traps, deltoids and upper traps.

This exercise is a great simple move which when done correctly, can effectively target your back muscles.

The exercise requires dumbbells to do.


Dumbbell Shrug is a strength exercise that works your upper traps.

The exercise is a great moderate move that requires dumbbells to perform.

When done correctly, it can effectively target your neck, shoulders, upper back and upper body.


Jump Shrug is a bodyweight exercise that mainly works your upper traps.

It is a great moderate move and when done correctly, it can also effectively target your traps and deltoids.

It requires no equipment to do.


Avoid rolling your shoulders when you’re doing a cable shrug.

Make sure you carefully lift your shoulders up before dropping them back down in the same vertical direction.


Strengthening your trapezius muscles with cable shrugs can help stabilize your neck and upper back. It can also reduce the strain on your neck and shoulder muscles. Shoulder shrugs may also be a good option if you have chronic neck pain.