T Nation

Things Going on Behind my Back

No, despite the post title above I’m not paranoid delusional…yet. What I am referring to, T-friends, are Behind-the-back barbell shrugs. I think they’re pretty interesting. Does anybody do them? DOes anybody see a reason to do them? DOes anybody see those little elves who steal grains of Grow! out of their sealed packets sometime around midnight every Wednesday night? Not me, no ma’am. Leaving elves aside and continuing on shoulders, anyone do barbell shrugs? If so, are there any advantages of doing barbell shrugs over dumbell/Powerblock shrugs? Thanks. Lata.

"MB Eric's T-Scoreboard: T-man: 7 Colonol Saunders: 700 lbs. Since 1563."


MB- I do 'em, both with a free barbell and on a bench press machine that has a split grip (like a long rod with a hole in the middle). Like 'em both, but the effects are slightly different.

Char-dawg: Responding to MB Eric since 2001.

Yes, I use barbell shruga (front and rear) and dumbell. My traps grow easily and I can feel small changes in the movements, and the behind-the-back shrug seems to pull “deeper” (for lack of a better term), at least on me. Maybe it’s just an angle thing, but I prefer dumbells over all.

Baboon boy Infinity- saying “I don’t know” with dumbells since at least two saturdays ago!

E-Man…how’s the recovery going, my Primate Friend? Going to be back at it soon? I digress…put it this way, I don’t really have mountainous traps–or even lil’ hills–but lately I’ve been using a bar with a groove right in the bum area that allows the barbell to be placed behind-the-back and close to the bod without actually dragging. I prefer/feel them much better than front barbell shrugs or behind-the-back with a conventional barbell…what seems to feel best for me are DBs, though.

Char-Dawg…I’m lovin’ it, bro!

Thanks T-guys. Timbo, this past week has been frustrating to say the least. On Wednesday I had a fistulotomy for an anal fistula (basically a septic channel up my ass that should NOT be there casued by a tear in the tissue) Then, not to be outdone, my feet wanted in on the action and I had a nagging ingrown toenail on my left big toe. Had that pulled yesterday and when the local wore off, the whole county heard it. My left arm is still recuperating from an injury sustained while doing incline presses w/ supersets and using too much weight on the second set of the second superset. So, basically, then entire left side of my body is a veritable trian wreck this week. I’m afraid that when I’m fully recovered I’m going to blow a hole through the wall with the intensity of my “Fully Recovered Routine”. Then I’m gonna deal with the girlfriend, who needs the same intensity applied with a different “routine”. I think my healing powers are second to those of the X-man Wolverine, I heal very quickly, plus I have a high threshold of pain so even if it’s not fully healed or just newly hurt I usually don’t feel it (Yeah, yeah I know that can be dangerous) Thanks for the concern, holmes. Lata.

"MB Eric: Strug out till he's sprung out since Wednesday."


I saw somewhere that behind the back shrugs had a higher EMG reading than any other type shrug.

I really love front bb shrugs. I can pull some decent weight (275#x10). Traps do grow easy though. None of my fitted shirts fit in the neck anymore.

MB sounds like you’ve had a real going over, lucky you’re not a racehorse or you’d be chewing lead! I sometimes do behind back shrugs just for variety. One I have found works well is using d/bells with hands facing body do a shrug then raise elbows to shoulder height like an upright row. Take it easy and don’t start back too soon.

Monkeyboy, I’m feeling your pain! Heal up and get back into action, but do be careful to make certain you really are ready to go. Don’t let that high threshold put you down again. As for shrugs, I do 'em both bar and dumbell, but understand that barbell shrugs recruit slightly more muscle fibers than dumbell. However, which I do depends upon room in the gym and how I feel. Behind the back shrugs with the bar are difficult for me, as my ass gets in the way! Here’s something to try as a finishing movement for shrugs, after you’ve done whatever you do: pick up 15# or 20# dumbells, hold 'em behind your back, and perform slow, very high shrugs, one set to failure. Burn baby burn!

Eric, over lunch hour I tried behind-the-back shrugs on an old Universal machine bench press set up, standing inbetween the handles. Works nicely; did five sets, got pretty heavy, and felt the stress in the right places all the way.