Do you know any DVDs out there that show shrugs and variations of them?  Also do you use shrugs in any part of your workouts.  

I can not think of a single DVD dedicated to shrugs. However, if you want a training DVD, buy Blood & Guts by Dorian Yates.

As for books, I know of two.

On the topic of shrugs I defer to Bill Starr. Bill was the former strength coach for the Baltimore Colts when they won the Superbowl in 1970. He was the strength coach at a whole list of universities including Hawaii, Maryland and John Hopkins. He was a Olympic weightlifting champion, & national record holder in powerlifting and an accomplished author. He wrote an excellent article on traps for Starting Strength called Strong Traps.

“There was a time, in the not-so-distant past, when every athlete who trained with weights sported an impressive set of traps. Bodybuilders had them; shot putters had them, and, of course, so did Olympic lifters. That’s because they all did lots of heavy pulling movements in their programs. Currently, the only group of strength athletes who show any trap development are Olympic lifters, and those taking part in a scholastic or collegiate strength program which includes the power clean and shrug.”

I love shrugs and have always done them. From a young age, my traps were quick to grow and my first line of defense against stingers and getting my head knocked off. And they did wonders in helping fill out a shirt.

There are hundreds of shrugs, but I consider 3 variations staples in my training:

Power Shrugs made famous by Bill Starr.

  1. Set the loaded barbell in a rack at knee height. It should only be loaded to 135 lbs.
  2. Strap onto the bar with your deadlift-width double overhand grip, and perform a hang clean. Hang cleans should be initiated by the pull.
  3. Add a plate on each side, bringing the total up to 225 lbs. Now, hang clean it again.
  4. If it is easy, add more plates (up to 315 for now). However, most people wont be about to hang clean 315 from the rack. This is good because is your starting point.
  5. Instead of trying to hang clean it this time, you are going to use the same hip drive that you would do a clean with, but violently shrug the bar up. Try to hit your ears with your traps. Bend your knees to absorb the weight as the weight comes down on the negative, and go again.
  6. Shoot for 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps

Kelso Shrugs named after Paul Kelso. I have been doing these for years and only recently learned they had a name. You can be performed with a barbell, dumbbell or T-row. I have done them with a seated calf raise machine.

Similar to the Pendlay row. We have been rowing the barbell from a dead stop on the platform since the 90’s, glad it finally was given a name.

  1. Pick up a heavy dumbbell and start performing dumbbell rows. Try to keep you back flat and avoid excessive hip drive like you would in a Kroc row.
  2. Once you get to your last rep, do not drop the dumbbell. With a straight arm, start shruging your shoulder back by retracting your scapula. Hold for a split second and repeat. Remember to bring the shoulder all the way forward to get the greatest range of motion.
  3. Repeat for 12-15 reps.
  4. Every set of one arm dumbbell rows, bent rows or Pendlay row should finish with a set of these rows.

Hanging Scapula Depression.

  1. Hang from a pull up with your feet dangling.
  2. Allow your shoulders to relax and let your head sink.
  3. With a reversing shrugging motion try to drive your head through the roof without bending your arms.
  4. You should only get 2-3 inches of movement if you are doing it right.
  5. If you are doing it wrong you will drive your chest out. The chest should only move up and down. The whole movement should be straight up and down.
  6. Once you have mastered the movement, add weight. I like to hold a dumbbell with my feet or between my knees. Start low with 5-7 reps and work your way up to 12-15 reps.

I recommend you buy Bill Starr’s The Strongest Shall Survive and Paul Kelso’s Kelso’s Shrug Book for more information on shrugs. Kelso gives dozens of variations and every shrug imaginable.