T Nation

Shrugs

Can anyone tell me the correct way to do Shrugs, or which method is more effective.
I’ve seend people use barbells and dumbells.
Some hold the dumbells infront, some hold them by their side, some just lift their shoulders straight up then down, others rotate them up then round.
Which method should I use???

You should hold dumbells to the side if you opt to use them, an article was written not too long ago on the shrug or maybe a trap article, search it , it’ll have all the info you’ll need.

Pugs

Paul Chek has a pretty in depth article on shrugs. I think it’s here at T-mag. Otherwise, check his site - www.chekinstitute.com

I’m pretty sure its called Shrug Science or something along those lines.

Variety is the spice of life, sex, and weightlifting.

If you seriously want to preserve your body and build functional mass and incredible strength at the same time, stay away from shrugs and do some cleans, pulls, cuban presses etc. See The Power Look article. I’d advise you to concentrate on compound movements to build your traps, that way you hit the upper middle and lower regions and develop them properly. Shrugs can come in handy later. Buld a strong base and you’ll thank me. Unless you do shrugs EXACTLY correctly, you’re risking a lot of damage and in case you don’t believe me, just throw a few pounds too many on a barbell and use improper form. I guarantee you’ll never forget your mistake.

I agree with CGB. The moves he suggested will hit them at many different angles therby developing the entire trap. If you do shrugs as your main movement, the upper traps are going to get ridiculously huge while the rest of the trap won’t develop at all sometimes. I’d do everything he suggests plus wide grip rows from a cable pully or underneath the bench with a bar and plates. This move has done wonders for my upper back and center trap development. On the pully you can also get in multiple angles of this movement and overload it a bit. Right now I’m rowing 200 lbs for around 30 reps and my traps look great- finally. I just wish my chest would respond this well…

RS, how about we swap chest for traps? :wink:

I’ve been doing maintenance on my chest for months now in order to try to bring my back up. It’s been a struggle, but I’ve made some great progress with Christian’s program and in general, just doing more compound moves, oly lifts etc. I get soreness in parts I didn’t know I had and all these little problem areas I’ve had for so long seem to be clearing up, slowly but surely and for once, I’m starting to feel like I’m structurally sound.

CGB, hey tell me what you do for chest and I’ll tell you what I’ve done for my back. Maybe we could both benefit. CT’s Big Back Stack is just about exactly what I’ve been doing for around 4 months now. I also included close grip rows from all angles on the pulleys but now I generally only do wide grip rows. I also used to do the iso-hammer for lower lats until my upper lats caught up. I went from not even being able to do a wide grip pull up to pulling down more than my own body weight/doing weighted pull ups. Now my shoulders and chest need to follow. Its been easier over loading both when having a big back but still. When you look huge from the side or back but not the front it is kinda annoying to say the least.

RS, to tell you the truth, I’m a pretty tall guy with long limbs, so I’ve really had to use methods that a lot of people probably wouldn’t even consider. Barbell benching has always been tough for me, so I’ve relied a lot of dumbells and really concentrate on tempo with long negatives and I go down as deep as I can and always pause at the top and the bottom for a good second and contract hard and explode up.

Dips saved my life, giving me initial bulk (lots of size and width), but they also gave me a real lopsided chest, so I’ve worked hard to bring the top up and now I don’t do any presses for the lower part and do everything on an incline- dumbells, cable cross-overs and flyes the way that Poliquin and others here advocate, with the palms out and bring the dumbells back towards the ears. These have really helped me.

I sometimes do one and a halfs on the Hammer incline press and go light so as to really feel the chest working and take the stress off the shoulders and pile it right on the chest.

I to partial dumbell pull-overs as profiled in the Pop 'Em Out Muscles Atricle.

For the lower part of my chest, I do flyes and even cable flyes which have helped shape.

Lately I’ve been going back to barbell work on the incline and really screw around with hand placement for variety and new stimulation.

In general, I really pay close attention to tempo and try to always mix it up and never ever do I worry about my ego. I can make progress with lighter weights than most for my chest and just really work on that mind-muscle connection and feel every single rep burning a hole through my chest.

I hope this helps. I’m really working hard at cleans, deadlifts, wide grip deadlifts, weighted chins, cable rows (lately overhand, shoulder-width grip and bringing it to the bottom of my ribcage and holding a 1-2 second contraction), high rope rows and barbell rows. I do a vertical and horizontal day and have been doing this for three weeks now. Deads and chins on one day and rows on the other, about 3 days apart. It’s tough because I’m simultaneously trying to bring my traps up and the rest of my back, but so far, so good!

CGB, all the angles you are using on your back right now are excellent. You should see a pay off in no time. The dumbell pull-overs are something I’ve never even done. Angles, posistions, grips. That’s what it was all about for my back so I guess, from what you are saying, my chest needs them too. Can you do dumbell pull-overs from a decline bench? Dips right now seem to be doing wonders but if the same thing happens to me I’m going to come calling for a chest workout authored by yourself.

RS, I just saw db pull-overs on a decline bench in an article here… I haven’t done them myself, but heck, it sounds good so why not try them for a change? I try to do my incline work at different angles- I’ll do barbell work at 45 degrees and then I’ll do dumbell work two notches or so down from vertical. For grips, I just go from narrow to wide on the barbell at different times. Just don’t be afraid to mix it up and always try new exercises and new ideas. I always have fun because I always try new things- if not new exercises, the same ones done just a little differently.

Keep me posted on your progress and I’ll let you know how the back comes along. I think I just need to be consistent and stick with the hz/vert split and keep prioritizing.

BTW, I notice you said your shoulders need some work. What are you currently doing for them?

CGB- I’ve been doing overhead dumbell press, inclined lying lateral raise, rear delt flys, ez bar or smith machine chin ups, and behind the neck press. I haven’t been doing too much of the behind the neck press lately as it seems to cause some pain in my right delt. I am never sore in my shoulders! Ever! I know this is generally good but it seems to be related to slow shoulder growth. I train to fail on one or two moves so I know I’m pushing them hard enough. I also just recently took about a month off of direct shoulder work to see if they needed rest. Not much happened. It seems to be related to my chest. My chest is beginning to respond a little more lately but my shoulders aren’t. The rear delts are actually fairly well developed but my outer delts are pathethic. I know the back work probably helped my rear delts and chest work is probably going to help the foward delts but those outer ones are shit out of luck most of the time. I can’t hold much weight on them and they “pop” a lot especially while doing laterals. I looked at this weeks shoulder plan in the web article. I might just drop my back pretty much all together for a month and focus on my shoulders and chest. Another thing- I’ve done a lot of back stretching and recently more and more chest stretchs. This seems to be helping them gain faster and faster. But what can you do to stretch those outer delts? I can’t figure out how to do that short of dislocating my shoulder. I’ve actually had more problems over all with developing my shoulders than my chest. At least my chest is bigger than when I started! I can’t say much for my shoulders though.

RS, I had horrendous rear delt development and very poor lateral delts until just recently. Concentrating more on my back has helped my rear delts and as for my side delts, three weeks of clean presses have made a tremendous difference. I can’t stress this enough. I’ve finally found a way to overload my shoulders this way. I’ve always had a tough time with overhead presses (I think it’s these long arms of mine) and so I’ve been stalled out on shoulder development for a long time. Clean presses with max weights has really helped me zap my shoulders and I can see them starting to grow again.

I’ve started doing two shoulder days a week lately- one press day where I do clean presses, Arnold presses or some other dumbell press and push presses either behind the neck or in front and either seated or standing. Then about 3 days later, I do lateral raises of some sort (lean away, dumbell, cable etc), for both my side and rear delts, standing rows and anything else I can think of that will work my shoulders that isn’t a press movement. This gives my shoulders two solid days of work per week. Since I’ve reduced my benching volume, I feel that I’m handling it well. I know lots of people feel their shoulders will come up without direct work, but that hasn’t worked for me, so far.

What do you think?

I just busted ass on my shoulders tonight. I like the idea of two days of shoulder work. I think I might divide it up in a similar fashion. I think most people can do without direct shoulder work but people like us can’t. I think our other gifted muscle groups like your chest and my back are doing most of the work and overloading the shoulders may be the only way to go. Volume here is also key. When my back blew up it had to do with angles and volume. I did nearly twice as much work on it as every other body part… makes me wonder- though I’m not gifted with perfect symetrey or freakish size I might be gifted with the ability to do a huge amount of work. I think I might bring up this concept in the forum- people who need way more volume and work than other people to grow or “mules”. I kinda like that idea… hmmmmmm. I need to incorperate clean and press definately… I can see the future and it is bright!

RS, please feel free to PM me to update me on your progress and I will do the same. I’d like to know any results you might get from anything we’ve discussed. Best of luck!

You need to read Paul Kelso’s book “Kelso’s Shrug Book”.

Try this link: http://www.bookpublisher.com/miva/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=BS&Product_Code=1587361167&Category_Code=SPO