This exercise is probably the simplest of the posture exercises on this website, but don’t shrug it off! All you need for this exercise is a pair of dumbbells (and progressively as you get stronger, heavier and heavier dumbbells). Be sure to check out the bodybuilding tips article for advice on how to keep proper form.
The great thing about exercising to fix posture is you are no longer relying on an outside solution like a posture brace or surgery like spinal decompression. Shoulder shrugs are a very effective exercise, and actually very easy to build muscle with. This exercise mainly works your traps (the trapezius muscles). It is also a very powerful core exercise (they include lower back exercises, abs exercises, pelvis exercises, and assist with weight loss). Core exercises also increase stability and balance. The shoulder shrug is a pretty fun exercise, and you’ll be surprised at how much you can lift.
Stand up perfectly straight (with proper posture, of course), holding the dumbbells at your side, allowing your arms to hang, drooping your shoulders. You should be standing as if you were a soldier.
Then all you do is shrug! Lift your shoulders as high as possible toward your ears, and then lower them back to their original position. Besides your shoulders, no other part of your body should be moving. Remember to do this in a slow and controller manner. Like back extensions, with the shoulder shrug exercise, it can be very tempting to rush through the repetitions. And if you start to strain, remember to lower the weight or just stop entirely!
A lot of you will notice that one shoulder is able to go higher than the other after the first few repetitions. If this is the case, stop lifting instead of just continuing with one. After working out for some time you will start to notice that your muscles will start to become more even on both sides of your body. However, if you were to continue working out the one side that could continue going, your muscles would never even out, and it might even start to look weird!
Side note: Do not rotate your shoulders in a circular motion back and forth while lifting; this can lead to injury. Just lift your shoulders straight up, and then straight down.
Other side notes: You can also do this exercise with a barbell instead of dumbbells. If you prefer barbell shoulder shrugs, do everything else exactly the same, and grab the bar with an overhand grip slightly beyond shoulder width in front of your body. I personally find it annoying that the bar scrapes against your body, and so I prefer the dumbbell shoulder shrug method. Some people like the other method better though, it just depends on what is more comfortable for you.
That’s all there is to the shoulder shrug exercise. For more upper back exercises, you can do the lat pull down or pull up. For lower back exercises, I would recommend the seated row or back extensions.