Power Shrug Hell – Build Your Traps And Deadlift

Power Shrug Hell – Build Your Traps And Deadlift

Updated June 11, 2020

Looking for an intense but fun trap workout that will also help build your deadlift pulling power? Look no further.

I call this program power shrug hell. On paper it looks simple, but in the gym it will work you hard. It can be used either as a traps exercise in a muscle building program, or for deadlift training if your goal is pure strength.

Power Shrug Hell Basics

Power shrug hell combines 2 lifts:

  1. High rack pull
  2. power shrug

Set your bar height to right above the knee cap. You want to make each rep explosive, but also controlled using good form. Initiate the lift with a rack pull and finish with an explosive power shrug. This combination should be performed using one fluid  motion.

After each rep set the bar down completely. Reset your hips, take a deep breath and immediately perform another rep. Keep going until you complete a total of 10 reps per set.

All power shrug hell workouts begin with 135 pounds on the bar. Perform 10 quality reps, and then rest for 2-3 minutes before adding two more 45 pound plates.

Continue this pattern of knocking out 10 reps per set, and adding 90 pounds to the bar, until you can no longer perform 10 reps per set. At that point power shrug hell is over.

A sample workout would look like this:

  • Set 1 – 135 pounds x 10 reps
  • Set 2 – 225 pounds x 10 reps
  • Set 3 – 315 pounds x 10 reps
  • Set 4 – 405 pounds x 10 reps
  • Set 5 – 495 pounds x 7 reps

In this example our lifter’s shrug form and explosiveness started to deteriorate, so he stopped the set at 7 reps.

That’s it. Power shrug hell workout done.

Power Shrug Hell Notes

Progression is king. Try to improve next week by adding at least one rep to your last set. When you can perform 10 reps, add two more 45 pound plates to the bar. If this just feels simply too heavy, add two 25 pound plates instead.

Grip. Use a double overhand grip. No exceptions. Power shrugs are not meant to be performed using an over-under style grip.

Strap up. Wear lifting straps or Versa Grips. The point of this workout isn’t to test your grip, it’s to build trap and deadlift strength. Never let weak grip strength lead to an inferior workout. At some point every lifter will be able to power shrug more than they can double overhand grip.

Frequency. Limit power shrug hell workouts to once a week. If you are training for strength you can either use this workout after deadlifting as a finisher, or on squat day as a moderate deadlift assistance exercise.


The author

Steve Shaw
Steve Shaw is the original founder of Muscle and Brawn, an experienced powerlifter with over 31 years experience pumping iron. During competition he’s recorded a 602.5lb squat, 672.5lb deadlift and a 382.5lb bench press.

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