Saturday, March 28, 2009

Do squats hurt your shoulders?

If you have been involved with the iron game for any length of time then you probably know that good old fashion barbell squats are one of the best overall muscle building exercises you can do.

Not only do squats target the legs, but they also provide muscle stimulation all through the hips, glutes, abs, obliques, lower back, spinal erectors, traps, shoulders, and even to a smaller degree the chest, lats, and arms.

Now even though squats are a "super exercise" they are one of the most challenging and uncomfortable exercises to perform. Part of the reason is that there is a big learning curve when it comes to getting the proper form, coordination, and confidence to perform a proper squat.

One of the big hurdles that holds most beginners and intermediate lifters back from progressing faster in the squat is that the bar digs into the back of their shoulders causing pain and discomfort.

Can you relate to this? Have you felt the pain in your upper back from squatting and then wrapped a foam pad or towel around the bar to try and make it easier on the shoulders? If you have then chances are it didn't provide as much padding as you thought it would, and most likely it threw off your squatting form even more as the padding often causes the bar to slide down your back.

So how do we over come this painful squatting dilemma?

You toughen up your back so you can comfortably handle the bare bar on your back with the help of Hise Shrugs...

The Hise Shrug was invented by Joseph Curtis Hise, who also happened to invent the 20 rep squat routine (aka: Squats & Milk Program) back in the 1930's.

Chances are you have never heard of Hise Shrugs before even though it is an awesome movement for building up the traps, upper back, and all the muscles of the shoulder complex.

You do this exercise by shouldering a barbell, just like you were going to do a set of squats (skip the padding and just use the bare bar). Keep your legs straight during the entire exercise. Simply shrug or hunch your shoulders up. You will feel your traps contract hard, hold this position for a second. Then relax your shoulders back down, then repeat.

Do this exercise 2 times per week for 4 sets of 10-15 reps. You can do it as part of a back or shoulder workout, as these are the muscles that come into play.

Within a few weeks you should be able to handle just as much weight as you can squat. Granted this exercise will feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but it's a lot easier then squatting because you just have to worry about shrugging the bar.

After about month of doing Hise Shrugs in a progressive overload fashion you'll be able to do regular barbell squats with the bare bar across your back and experience no pain.

It's a small investment in time and effort for a huge pay off in muscle building results. Give it a try in your workouts and leave me a comment below to let me know how it works for you.

If you would like to learn about more unique muscle building exercises then get a copy of my Total Fitness Bodybuilding DVD. In this 3 disc set I cover over 100 muscle building exercises that will help you take your overall muscular development to a whole new level.

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