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Rehab Secret Found In Calf Machine Shoulder Shrugs!
Unfortunately, this exercise isn't used much. In fact, the name itself causes people to shrug! It's great for rehab as it completely isolates the upper trapezius fibers without involving the arms.
For those of you who have problems with grip during conventional barbell or dumbbell movements (i.e. you can't hold on any longer because your forearms feel like they're on fire) and/or find your elbows constantly bending and absorbing some of the load, take a step back and try this exercise on for size. This will help focus your concentration on your shoulders - the proximal joint - and not your arms.
Also, the machine restricts you to one plane of motion-straight up and straight down. It won't allow you to waste time and energy by rolling your shoulders. Remember, gravity acts vertically, not horizontally.
Performing The Exercise
To do this movement, position yourself underneath the pad of a standing calf machine as if you are about to do a set for your calves. Raise your shoulders as high as you can and pause at the top. Then control the pads as they lower-don't just drop the weight down! Three sets of 10-12 reps with a one-minute rest interval should do the trick.
Calf-Machine Shoulder Shrug
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Calf-Machine Shoulder Shrug.
It's very important to maintain proper form and perfect posture for this exercise, so keep your abdominals braced with a neutral spine to dissipate some of the weight from your back and onto your slightly bent legs. Also, keep the chest up and head straight - not poked forward!
Aim for full range of motion with your shoulders. Go as high as you can at the top, and get a good stretch at the bottom. Visualize Q-tips attached to your shoulders on an angle, and then try to poke out your eardrums.
When you've finished this and any other exercise that causes spinal compression, i.e. squats or military presses, try hanging on a chin-up bar for a while at the end of your workout. This will help increase the intervertebral space of your spine and instantly add a foot to your height. Caught your attention? Okay, maybe not a foot, but it'll help.
As Charles Poliquin has mentioned in the past, shrugs will also help to realign the position of the C5/C6 vertebrae, thus improving your arm strength as the upper traps stabilize the scapula when curling.
Give this exercise a shot for at least three weeks, and then reassess your curling poundage. If all goes well, you should also be able to curl more weight.
So now, when people ask you about calf machine shoulder shrugs, you can let them know what they are by shrugging your shoulders in the classic "I dunno" fashion.
About The Author:
John Paul Catanzaro, B.Sc., C.K., C.E.P., is a Certified Kinesiologist and Certified Exercise Physiologist with a Specialized Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology and Health Science. He owns and operates a private gym in Richmond Hill, Ontario providing training and nutritional consulting services. For additional information, visit his website at www.BodyEssence.ca or call 905-780-9908.
Check out John Paul's DVD, Warm-Up to Strength Training, for some powerful techniques to increase strength and improve performance. It has received a thumbs-up from many experts including Drs. Eric Serrano, Mark Lindsay, and Ken Kinakin as well as Olympic strength coach, Charles Poliquin. Visit www.StrengthWarmUp.com for more information.
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