Shrug with dumbbells | How are they performed? What are the benefits?

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Joe Dispenza

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By the healthiergang writer , student in Physiotherapy.

Dumbbell shrugs are a little known but very profitable exercise in several respects. Sometimes they are called "inspiratory shake" but the name "shake Hise" comes from the name of the athlete who made them famous.

1. Dumbbell Scrolls: How Are They Done?

The dumbbell shrugs are an apparently simple exercise to perform but in reality they need a good concentration and a correct technique to be effective. There are several variations of this exercise, what differentiates them is where the bar is placed.

  1. In fact, this can be positioned on the upper trapezes, as in a Back squat, or on the collarbones, as in a front squat, or held above the head as in the final position of a repetition of Over Head Press.
  2. Regardless of where the bar is held, the rationale for the exercise is always the same.
  3. Keeping the bar in place, take a deep breath trying to expand the rib cage as much as possible.
  4. You need to focus on chest, not abdominal breathing, and expand the rib cage to its fullest capacity. After a maximum inhalation, exhale completely and repeat the exercise.
  5. After a few repetitions you should feel some fatigue in the intercostal muscles.

If the barbell is positioned in a front rack position, or even more overhead, you should feel a lot of work from the serratus anterior.

If the exercise is done correctly the bar should rise slightly as there is a vertical (also) expansion of the rib cage. This movement is precisely what we need to focus on as it corresponds to a work by the muscles that expand the thoracic volume.

2. Benefits of dumbbell shrugs

The benefits of dumbbell shrugs are manifold. First of all, they allow you to train very important and often underestimated muscles: the intercostal muscles.

The intercostal muscles have the ability to increase chest volume and thus actively influence the air entering the lungs. In addition, strong intercostal muscles result in a strong and firm rib cage. This is important because it avoids a loss of energy during important multi-joint exercises.

In fact, most of these compound exercises foresee an axial load and therefore the beneficial transfer of the Hise shrugs is practically on each of these exercises; first of all the squat and the front squat. Another benefit is given by a neurological adaptation to important loads.

Often, in fact, when performing sub-maximal squat repetitions (or even more so with maximal loads) the time in which the barbell is kept on the shoulders is reduced (3 or fewer repetitions).

Significant loads

An interesting aspect is that as soon as you load your body with the weight used, you feel a certain instability.

This is due to the fact that the CNS is not used to a stimulus for which the body is loaded with such weights.

This condition of perceived precarious security automatically invalidates the technique of the exercise.

The dumbbell shrugs, Hise allow you to subject the body to equally important loads and "familiarize" the CNS with these loads.

Finally, it was highlighted how the bone, if subjected to the necessary pressures, is able to "hypertrophy" like muscles. The mechanism by which this occurs consists in a variation of pressure inside the canals present in the lamellar bone.

These have particular receptors that are able to receive an adequate stimulus and appropriately activate a hormonal cascade and other chemical messengers that reinforce the bone structure. This mechanism can be compared to a sort of adaptation to the stimulus that also characterizes the muscle fibers.

3. How to include them in your training?

The dumbbell shakes can be inserted as a real exercise in your training routine, perhaps combined in super sets with seals to the bar in order to decompress the spine from the important stress to which this exercise subjects it.

This way you avoid any negative effects and you can still take advantage of the benefits that this exercise can offer. An easier way to incorporate this exercise into your routine is to add it to your regular squat sets in your training schedule.

Specifically, after the repetitions of squats, keep the barbell in position and perform the exercise. This method is very practical and doesn't add a lot of time to your workout.


Dumbbell shrugs are a little known but very useful exercise for strengthening different shoulder muscles. As we have seen with this article, dumbbell shrugs are a simple execution but require special attention to its execution.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you are concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or making major changes to your diet.

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