Hey, do you want to know a fantastic way to instantly spot a person in your gym who doesn’t have a clue what they’re doing?
It’s simple. Just find anyone who is rolling their shoulders forwards or backwards during their sets of barbell or dumbbell shrugs.
It’s a dead giveaway that they don’t have any idea what the hell they’re doing.
And it’s more than just failing to understand how to use proper form during shrugs. It’s failing to understand how gravity works. Allow me to explain…
How To Properly Do Shrugs
There are few exercises that are as simple to perform as the basic shrug. It trains the upper portion of the trapezius muscle (aka your upper traps, which is that muscle between your neck and shoulders).
Here’s how to do it properly:
- Grab a barbell with a shoulder width or slightly wider overhand grip and let it hang down in front of you so that it’s touching your thighs. If you’re using dumbbells, grab 2 dumbbells and let them hang down at your sides.
- Without bending your elbows, shrug your shoulders straight up as high as you can as though you’re trying to touch your ears.
- Squeeze for a second.
- Lower straight back down under control to that original starting position.
- Repeat for the desired amount of reps.
Got all of that? The movement is as simple as straight up and straight down. That’s all shrugs are. There is nothing else that should ever be taking place during this exercise. Up and down, up and down.
How NOT To Do Shrugs
Despite how simple barbell and dumbbell shrugs seem to be, all it takes is a few visits to any typical gym to see at least a couple of people doing their shrugs differently than I just explained it.
I’m of course referring to people who roll their shoulders forwards or backwards at the top of every rep.
Instead of going straight up and straight down, they take what can best be described as a rolling detour through idiot-ville.
Some people roll their shoulders forwards, some roll their shoulders backwards. Some even alternate which direction they roll from rep to rep.
In all cases however, the fact remains the same: it’s completely and utterly wrong, stupid, pointless and potentially dangerous.
And, like I mentioned before, it also proves that you don’t understand how gravity works.
Rolling Your Shoulders Like An Idiot… And Gravity
You see, due to gravity, the barbell or dumbbells you’re holding during shrugs are providing downward resistance in the vertical plane.
What that means is, the only way to get any actual use out of the weight you’re holding is by moving it UP against the downward resistance being provided.
That’s just how gravity works, folks.
The second you start rolling your shoulders forwards or backwards, you leave the vertical plane (where the resistance is) and end up in the horizontal plane (where there is absolutely no resistance at all) therefore accomplishing absolutely nothing.
Stupid people tend to make this rolling motion in an attempt to train their middle and lower traps along with their upper traps. Unfortunately, gravity prevents this from happening.
In order to actually provide resistance for the mid/lower traps, you’d need to do an exercise that provides horizontal resistance. You know, like a bent over barbell/dumbbell row, seated cable row, or any type of horizontal pulling exercise.
Shrugs do not fit that description at all.
And that means that pointlessly rolling your shoulders while holding a barbell or dumbbells is exactly like pointlessly rolling your shoulders without any weight in your hands at all. The only real difference is that the addition of the weight you’re holding greatly increases your risk of injury.
Wow… how awesome! Just as pointless but with the added bonus of getting injured! Sweet!
Stop Rolling Your Shoulders During Shrugs
So, in summary, barbell and dumbbell shrugs are meant to be done by elevating your shoulders straight up and then coming straight back down. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
Rolling your shoulders at any point during this exercise is completely pointless, accomplishes nothing, goes against NO resistance, shows the world that you don’t understand gravity, and puts you in a terrific position to hurt yourself.
Don’t do it… ever.