Snatch Grip Barbell Shrugs (How To & Alternatives)


Snatch Grip Shrugs

Snatch Grip Shrugs are a popular variation to regular Barbell Shrugs. Snatch Grip Shrugs are great for Olympic lifters or lifters just wanting to mix their routine up a bit.

In this guide, I will teach you how to properly do Snatch Grip Shrugs, explain what muscles they work and give you a few variations.


How To Do Snatch Grip Shrugs


Equipment Needed

  • Barbell
  • Weight Plates (either Bumper Plates or Steel Plates will work fine)

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Set up a barbell on either J-Hooks, or preferably, on the squat rack’s safety bars (if your rack has them)
  • Use an overhead grip, with hands wide – outside the snatch rings
  • Place feet hip-width apart, brace the core and stand tall with the bar
  • Now shrug up, visualizing touching your traps to your ears.
  • Do NOT ‘roll’ the shoulders. Shrug straight up and down.
  • Control the weight back down to the starting position and repeat.

Coaching Points

Shrugs already have a short range of motion. Don’t shorten the range of motion even further by adding more weight than you can properly lift. (A mistake I see quite often)

An alternated grip, one overhand and one underhand, will dramatically increase your grip strength on the bar and is something I highly recommend for regular Barbell Shrugs. However, with Snatch Grip Shrugs I prefer to use an overhand grip.

The height you place the bar in the rack is probably more important than it gets credit for. Place it too low and it adds a partial deadlift to the exercise but place it too high and you’ll hit the bar off the rack while doing reps.

Also, be mindful of your hands when taking the bar in and out of the rack (or wherever you are placing the bar between sets.). A wide grip can often make your hands dangerously close to J-Hooks and Safety Bars.

PRO TIP: If you find (after loading up the bar) that the bar has been placed a little too high, slide some plates underneath the bar to stand on.

Should I Use Lifting Straps When I Shrug?

We generally had a rule in the weight rooms that I’ve worked in that you were allowed to use straps once you had 405 pounds on the bar. Anything less than that and you had to rely on your grip.

I’m still a big fan of this rule because it still allows the lifter to work on grip strength for lighter sets and still be able to lock into heavier weight to focus on the traps. Keep in mind though, that this is dealing with collegiate football players. I would suggest adjusting the weight standard for straps based on your situation.

If you’re new to using straps and wouldn’t mind a quick tutorial, I created a ‘How To Use Straps‘ you can check out.


Muscles Worked


Snatch Grip Shrugs primarily work the upper trapezius muscle.


Snatch Grip Shrug Variations


Looking to add some variety to your training or need an alternative because of lack of equipment. You may be able to give these exercises a try:

Barbell Shrugs

I’ve already mentioned Barbell Shrugs a few times so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see it listed here as a variation. Narrow your grip to around shoulder-width and shrug.

You’ll generally find that Barbell Shrugs are a bit easier and you’ll probably be able to add more weight, especially if utilizing an alternated grip.

DB Shrugs

The other most common variation of Snatch Grip Shrugs is Dumbbell Shrugs. This works great if you don’t have a barbell or to add variation to your training program. The movement itself stays exactly the same.

Kettlebells can be used as well if you have access to kettlebells.


More Links and Info


For more lifts focused on the chest, shoulders and back check out the Upper Body Lifts section of the Exercise Library.

Ryan Horton

Horton Barbell was created by Ryan Horton who has served as a Sports Performance Coach for almost 20 years. My mission is to create a training resource to help as many coaches and athletes as possible maximize athletic potential.

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