A: A great old-school exercise for the entire shoulder girdle, the barbell or dumbbell shrug will get the job done when it comes to building your traps. As soon as you pick up the barbell or heavy dumbbells, you’ll feel the stretch in your traps as the weight tries to fall towards the ground right away. The shrug is basically as simple as it sounds: hold the weight tightly and shrug up. Hold it for one second and then lower the weight back down with control, still feeling the stretch in your traps. Repeat until you’ve reached the required number of reps or to failure. Shrugs are a great finisher for your shoulder session and it’s OK to go a little heavier for this exercise; just make sure you can feel the muscle working and don’t be tempted to go overboard and ego lift.
The main tip for shrugs is what not to do: do not roll your shoulders. Not only is it an unnecessary movement for the shrug’s target muscle, you could be setting yourself up for a rotator cuff problem down the track. That’s something you definitely don’t want. Ask anyone with a shoulder injury: prevention is better than cure.