Smith Machine Shrugs
Here’s probably the one exercise that most people are doing wrong. How could this be so difficult, you may ask? We do this movement so often throughout the day, you’ll say. What do you want for dinner? Shrug. What’s the capital of Vermont? Shrug. Who broke this vase? Shrug. You get the point. Anyway, therein lies the root of the problem of poor form. When performing this exercise and you find yourself trying to mimic the nonverbal equivalent to “I dunno” you’d be doing this exercise wrong. And so, ladies and gentlemen, with that, we introduce the one piece of equipment that actually has gym goers divided based on personal fitness philosophies, the Smith Machine.
Yes, there are shrug machines available but they ignore one vital aspect to the movement; but we’ll get back to that. When setting up for the movement you want the bar resting a couple notches below arms reach. This will allow you to rack the weight without having to do a deadlift, meanwhile giving yourself full range of motion. Put on less weight than you normally would. With an underhand grip (palms facing towards you) lift the bar off the rack. Here’s the crucial part, place your feet behind the bar so that it causes your body to tilt to an angle about 80° off the floor (standing straight up would be 90°). This angling of the torso allows for the shoulders to “shrug” at the proper contraction point for your traps. This positioning is almost inhibited in some shrug machines. Enough jib jab, get to the exercise!
Shrug: 5 sets of 12.
Notes [Parts that need a little more explaining]:
Be sure to keep rest to about 30 seconds between sets. Regarding the warm-up, try to keep a slow pace and squeeze at the contraction. The movement of your shoulders should follow a clockwise-counterclockwise rotation, rotating your shoulders towards your back then up to your ears. At the top, reverse this motion rotating towards your back down to the rest position. The reason why you want to put less weight on is because when you fully contract your traps you want to squeeze them for a solid count before returning to rest. The rest position on the shrug is almost like a hyperextension of the shoulders; really your arms drop low. With all of the exercises listed, when performing a movement you’re not familiar with, always begin by performing with a lighter weight. Good luck and be safe!