What Is the Muscle That Allows You to Shrug Your Shoulders?

muscle-allows-shrug-shoulders Credit: Jaime Grill/-/Getty Images

Shrugging of the shoulders is primarily accomplished by the upper region of the trapezius muscle. The upper trapezius extends from the shoulder blade up to the back of the neck and is a common target of weight training exercises.

The trapezius muscle is targeted directly through shrugging exercises, which all consist of a shrugging motion performed with added resistance from weights in the hands. Barbells, dumbbells and cable machines are all commonly employed as resistance for shrugging exercises. The trapezius muscle is also a common stabilizer in many exercises, the barbell deadlift being one notable example. It also acts as a synergist in many back exercises, including the bent-over row. The trapezius muscle is commonly targeted by weight lifters to help improve lifts in which it is a synergist or stabilizer.