Shrug One-Arm Smith

Start Position
End Position

Starting position:

  1. Stand inside the Smith machine rack with feet shoulder width apart and with the bar to your side.
  2. Grasp the bar with a closed, pronated grip (palm facing you) directly in the center of the bar.
  3. Lift and rotate the bar to unlatch is from the hook.
  4. Keep the elbow fully extended (with a slight bend in it) allowing the bar to hang.
  5. Stand with torso erect, keep a slight bend in the knees, and look straight ahead.

Upward movement/concentric phase:

  1. Shrug your shoulder, lifting the bar as high as possible while keeping your arms extended.
  2. Maintain the torso straight up and keep looking straight ahead.

Downward movement/eccentric phase:

    1. In a controlled fashion, slowly lower shoulder to bring the bar back to starting position.
    2. Rotate the bar to re-latch the bar when the set is complete.
    3. Complete the set and repeat with the other side.
Do not hold your breath. Exhale during the concentric/phase phase and inhale during the eccentric/lowering phase.


Exercise Data

  • Primary Muscles: Trapezius (upper fibers)
  • Synergists: Levator scapulae
  • Stabilizers: Deltoid, rhomboids, rotator cuff muscles, triceps brachii, biceps brachii, wrist flexors
  • Type: Strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance
  • Mechanics: Scapular elevation
  • Equipment: Smith Machine
  • Lever: 1st class lever
  • Level: Beginner to advanced
  • FAQ'S & FACTS ABOUT Shrug One-Arm Smith

    What Is A Smith Machine One-Arm Shrug?

    A one-arm Smith machine shrug is a resistance exercise, which targets the upper fibers of the trapezius muscle. This exercise is performed on a Smith Machine.

    The concentric portion of the lift is scapular elevation. The eccentric portion is scapular depression as the bar is lowered.

    The purpose of the one-arm Smith Machine shrug is to strengthen and develop the upper fibers of the trapezius.

    Why Do A Smith Machine One-Arm Shrug?

    One-arm Smith machine shrugs strengthen and develop the upper trapezius. Developing the upper fibers of the trapezius complements the aesthetics of the upper back as the upper fibers of the trapezius can be seen from the front, side and back of the body.

    The Smith machine range of motion is limited to the provided tracking. This may allow the lifter to increase the load with a relatively increased amount of ease. One-arm Smith machines allow the lifter to isolate the upper trapezius fibers of both sides individually.

    In addition to serving as an exercise that enhances the aesthetics of the upper back, one-arm Smith machine shrugs also complement weightlifting and sport performance.

    Anatomy Of A Smith Machine One-Arm Shrug

    A flat and triangular muscle, the trapezius is the most superficial muscle of the posterior thorax. The superior (upper) fibers run downward to the scapula. The middle fibers run horizontally to the scapula. Its origin is located at the occipital bone, ligamentum nuchae, and spines of C7 and all thoracic vertebrae. Its insertion is located along the acromion and spine of the scapula and lateral region of the clavicle. The upper fibers elevate the scapula as in shrugging the shoulders. As a superficial muscle, developing the upper trapezius contributes to the overall aesthetics of the upper back.

    The levator scapulae is located underneath the trapezius at the back and side of the neck. Its origin is located at the transverse process of C1-C4 and inserts into the medial border of the scapula. The levator scapulae assists the upper fibers of the trapezius with scapular elevation.

    The deltoid, rhomboids, triceps brachii and biceps brachii stabilize the shoulder girdle as the arms are fully extended holding the bar. The rotator cuff muscles, particularly the supraspinatus, help to hold the humerus in place as the scapula elevates and depresses throughout the shrugging motion. The wrist flexors maintain the wrists rigid and stabilized throughout the exercise.

    Variations Of A Smith Machine One-Arm Shrug

    Smith machine shrug, behind-the-back Smith machine shrug, barbell shrug, dumbbell shrug, hex bar shrug, cable shrug.

    How To Improve Your Smith Machine One-Arm Shrugs

    Strategically varying your shrug exercises (e.g. bilateral Smith machine shrug, barbell shrug, dumbbell shrug, cable shrug) can optimize the muscle fiber recruitment of the upper trapezius. Over time, this will enhance the strength and hypertrophy of the trapezius muscle.

    Focus on the concentric portion of the contraction, concentrating on squeezing as the shoulder shrugs (imagine wanting to touch your ear with your shoulder).

    Emphasis on eccentric contractions, prolonging the eccentric portion of the contraction, may also be incorporated in a training program focused on increasing strength. This should be implemented accordingly and with adequate muscle recovery as eccentric contractions cause substantial damage to muscle tissue.

    It is important to note that your repetition and set volume will depend on your goals (e.g. strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance). It is also important to allow adequate recovery days in between back and shoulder training days to allow muscles to repair.

    Common Mistakes When Doing Smith Machine Smith Machine Shrugs

    Using momentum to lift the bar (e.g. jerking the torso, elbow, or shoulder for assistance) minimizes the potential of force production of the involved muscles and can increase the risk for injury. It is important that both the eccentric and concentric phases of the exercise are controlled.

    Bending the elbow during the exercise minimizes the activation of the trapezius and places greater emphasis on the biceps muscle group. Keep arms fully extending with just a slight bend in the elbow to ensure maximal activation of the trapezius.

    Tucking the chin into the chest during this exercise can increase the risk of neck injury. It is important to keep the neck in a neutral position, looking straight ahead, to ensure proper and safe technique.

    Injuries Or Ailments & Their Effects Regarding Smith Machine One-Arm Shrugs

    If the lifter has a compromised range of motion with the shoulder joint and/or performs this exercise incorrectly, this exercise can increase the risk of injury and/or exacerbate a previous injury.

    If proper technique and recovery are not adhered to rotator cuff injuries and/or lower back injuries may occur.