Training log at the end. First I want to talk about a "controversial" lift - the barbell shrug. Lots of people swear they are a waste / do nothing, oly lifters will tell you it's just a fixer for bad technique, chaos and pain fanatics will tell you that if you're not doing 750lb singles you're wasting your time... whatever. Then straps are controversial among know nothings all over... they're a crutch, they're for pussies only, blah blah. Whatever. I use straps and I do shrugs, and I have done so for a while, and I have a few things to say about it.
- Shrugs HAMMER the mid back. Much like hang high pulls, the mid back gets a lot of activation. Maybe this is technically the bottom of the upper back, I guess it depends on your definitions. I'm talking about the spinal erectors and inner edges of the lats, and the bottom of the traps - that area. Nothing activates that region like shrugs for me, and I have the ability to keep much greater rigidity during deadlifts, rows and so on when I do shrugs regularly.
- Heavy ass shrugs with straps for high reps wreck your grip. They work it hard. Since I started using straps and in particular with heavy shrugs (which do more for my grip than rack deadlifts with straps), my unassisted mixed grip strength has gone from ~405 to ~500. To put that in perspective, that happened in 2 months. It took me the 3 months prior to get from 350 to 400. Coincidence? Nope. Shrugs.
- My shoulders ache right now because I just finished lifting, but in general, they feel far more stable and balanced than they did before. I've had lifelong shoulder issues and lots of horizontal pulls and lots of shrugs have reduced the frequency of injury, and the severity of those injuries, tremendously. I've gone from shoulders being out of commission 1 week out of 4, to not at all.
- Shrugs have the same affect on the mind/muscle connection as heavy rack pulls - your body adjusts to the feeling of holding a heavier load. I love rack pulls and squat lockouts for the same reason. Shrugs don't wear me out overall as much as rack pulls and heavy squat lockouts, so I can do them more, and thus reap more benefits. That doesn't mean I leave the others out, but I don't have unlimited time or energy or recovery capacity and training economy is important to me.
- Shrugs have definitively increased the strength of my traps. I have much more trap engagement and power in high pulls doing them less and doing shrugs more. Technique may be a partial factor, but my traps say otherwise.
And that's all I have to say about that.
I started the deadlift only program I designed for myself 6 days ago. Prior to that my last 2 sessions had also been deadlift only but not part of this "program". By "only" I mean deadlift is the prime lift I'm building, additional lifts are those with direct carry over to the deadlift / training for deadlift related muscles.
I was supposed to lift tomorrow but due to other stuff on the calendar, I had to push it up a day. I was not fully recovered from the last session due to not enough hours of sleep in between then and now, and my lifting was mediocre. Hang high pulls came first, those went fine. I'm getting better at full and correct hip and trap action on them. Deadlifts were next and I hit only my minimum reps per set - 480x1, 425x6, 375x8. Shrugs came next, they were mediocre too and only hit 2 extra reps on the middle set.
To punish myself, I decided to do some HIIT inspired rack pulls - 475x1, 15 sets, with timed 10 seconds rest in between. By 5 I was breathing hard and by 10 I could barely hold the bar even with straps. By 13, my ass could barely move. The last two I don't know how I did them but I did.