What separates athletes from bodybuilders? One key difference: the incorporation of multi-joint, functional exercises into athletes’ training routines. It makes no sense to perform predominantly isolation exercises when muscles are rarely isolated in sports.
Power Shrugs illustrate the difference between training for bigger muscles and athleticism. Bodybuilders often perform the exercise while sitting down to completely isolate their trapezius muscles. In contrast, San Diego Chargers TE Antonio Gates, one of the most prolific receiving threats in NFL, works on his traps like an athlete by also using his lower body to generate force in the Power Shrug.
Jeff Hurd, the Chargers’ strength coach, particularly likes the Power Shrug because of its full-body, functional aspect. He says, “The movement comes from the ground, starts with your feet and ankles, goes up through the knees and hips and goes out through the shoulders.” This sequence of muscle activation, also known as a kinetic chain, is similar to what Gates and other athletes experience on the field, since most movements during competition originate from the ground and finish with an upper-body movement.
Watch Gates performing the Power Shrug in the video above.
- Assume athletic stance, holding trap bar
- Lower into quarter squat position, keeping chest up and core tight
- Drive up out of squat and forcefully shrug shoulders
- Repeat for specified reps