BACKGROUND: Work-site strength training sessions are shown effective to prevent and reduce neck-shoulder pain in computer workers, but difficult to integrate in normal working routines. A solution for avoiding neck-shoulder pain during computer work may be to implement high intensity voluntary contractions during the computer work. However, it is unknown how this may influence productivity, rate of perceived exertion (RPE) as well as activity and rest of neck-shoulder muscles during computer work. The aim of this study was to investigate short-term effects of a high intensity contraction on productivity, RPE and upper trapezius activity and rest during computer work and a subsequent pause from computer work. METHODS: 18 female computer workers performed 2 sessions of 15 min standardized computer mouse work preceded by 1 min pause with and without prior high intensity contraction of shoulder elevation. RPE was reported, productivity (drawings per min) measured, and bipolar surface electromyography (EMG) recorded from the dominant upper trapezius during pauses and sessions of computer work. Repeated measure ANOVA with Bonferroni corrected post-hoc tests was applied for the statistical analyses. RESULTS: The main findings were that a high intensity shoulder elevation did not modify RPE, productivity or EMG activity of the upper trapezius during the subsequent pause and computer work. However, the high intensity contraction reduced the relative rest time of the uppermost (clavicular) trapezius part during the subsequent pause from computer work (p < 0.04). CONCLUSION: Since a preceding high intensity shoulder elevation did not impose a negative impact on perceived effort, productivity or upper trapezius activity during computer work, implementation of high intensity contraction during computer work to prevent neck-shoulder pain may be possible without affecting the working routines. However, the unexpected reduction in clavicular trapezius rest during a pause with preceding high intensity contraction requires further investigation before high intensity shoulder elevations can be recommended as an integrated part of computer work.