This unique shrug variation works the traps, the rhomboids and the teres major muscles very effectively.
It does this due to the unique position you'll be putting your body. Instead of keeping your upper body vertical (like in a normal shrug), you're going to be leaning forward so that the angle of pull targets the traps and the muscles of the upper back.
Plus, in addition to hitting the traps and upper back, it's also going to work the lower back, biceps, core and legs to some extent as well, just to maintain that body position while you're doing the shrug exercise.
All you need for this one is a bench and a barbell and you're good to go. I'm using 315 lbs on the bar for this one - I'd recommend starting lighter until you get a feel for the exercise and the demands it's going to place on you.
Start by setting up the bar in front of the end of the bench.
Step over the bar. You want the bar BEHIND your feet at the start of the exercise.
Lean forward and grasp the bar, with a grip just outside your legs. Tighten up your core as getting to the start position entails a short deadlift movement.
Lift the bar a few inches off the ground (it'll be easier to see this in the video). Don't come all the way up to vertical...you want to stay leaning forward during the whole movement. Keep that core tight!
Now shrug the bar up and into the back of your legs (the bar will hit your hams and obviously you can't lift it any higher than that). The more bent-over you are while doing this, the greater the range of motion you'll be able to hit.
Don't bend so far over that you lose the arch in your lower back, though. It's important to keep the arch in order to support the spine and core optimally.
Hold that top position and squeeze the traps hard then lower down and go again.
Because you're bent forward, you're not only shrugging with the traps, you'll bringing the scapulae (shoulder blades) together behind you as well, which works the rhomboids and teres major muscles.
THIS is what is going to help improve your posture...
By working those muscles of the upper back, they'll be stronger and naturally pull your shoulders back even while your body is at rest, which keeps you in much better posture overall.
This is going to directly oppose the usual sitting position of slouching forward with shoulders caving in.
And as you can see in the pic, as I come up, my arms are slightly bent as well. This just happens naturally as you do the exercise and gives you some heavy bicep work as well.
It's almost like doing the start of a barbell row just to the point where your arms start to bend.
One of the key things to remember in this exercise is that a lot of the support should be taken up on your LEGS...not from sitting with all your weight on the bench. Try to just rest your butt on the edge of the bench mostly for balance, while bearing most of the load on your legs.
Activating your legs as well means you'll be activating your core and keeping your lower back tight and strong. If you just sit fully on your butt, you may find your core loses that "fireplug" strength. So be sure and keep a good amount of the load on your legs while shrugging.
Just a couple of sets of 6 to 8 reps is all you'll need. And remember, start lighter until you get a good feel for the exercise, then starting adding more weight.
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