How To Execute Kelso Shrugs

Shrugs target the trapezius muscle — aka the traps — which is located at the base of the neck or upper portion of the shoulders. The traps function is to elevate the shoulder girdle and stabilizing the scapula. In sports, provide you with a larger presence and therefore create a more intimidating presence. (Nothing wrong with psyching out an opponent, right?) Additionally, the more stable your shoulders and neck are, the more control and power you’ll exert when you’re pushing, pulling, or being bumped (in the paint, on the goal line, etc.).

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Common mistakes with shrugs include adding extraneous movement, such as going side to side or rolling the shoulders at the apex. All you need to do for a standard shrug, grasp the bar or dumbbell and move up and down. Side-to-side movement or rolling the shoulders forward or backward — as we’re sure you’ve seen people do in the gym — does not provide any benefit and may lead to injury.

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Created by powerlifter and author Paul Kelso, Kelso Shrugs are a traps exercise variation that targets the rhomboids and middle and lower traps. It’s done slightly different than traditional shrugs; using dumbbells or a barbell, lie face down on an incline bench that’s set to a 35-degree incline; keep your chest against the bench and both feet on the ground. Use a supine (or underhand) grip and lift with the shoulder blades, pulling them down and back. When you’ve gone back as far as possible, pause, return to the start position, and repeat for the desired number of reps.