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The Hise Shrug

The Hise Shrug

The hise shrug is an unusual and rarely used exercise. It is also an extremely effective exercise when it comes to putting on upper body muscle and strength, right across your shoulders, traps, upper back and even chest.

It was first popularised in an article in Iron man magazine entitled, “The Mysterious Hise Shrug”. It was also described in the book “The Rader Master Bodybuilding and Weight- Gaining System” by Peary Rader, the original publisher of Iron Man Magazine.

It was created Joseph Curtis Hise, the man who has been called “The father of American weight training”.

This is one of the exercises I would categorise as “Old School”. What I mean by this is largely forgotten exercises that no one really uses these days because they are too busy with pec decks and Nautilus machines.

These exercises are hard work and they are unusually effective. They are forgotten of course because the pec deck and machines are simply so much easier.

Why is it effective? Well simply because you are not limited by what you hands and arms can grip. This is the limit for most back exercises.

As a result, you can either handle a lot more weight or a lot more reps (or perhaps both).

In fact the biggest problem I find with it is how quickly you have to add weight to the exercise.

You have two options; high reps or heavy weights. Actually you will find that before too long you will be doing both. For me it only took a couple of weeks before I was doing 200kgs for 30 reps.

Now contrast that with the standard shoulder shrug in which you hold the bar. There is simply no chance of me getting that weight and that number of reps. The Hise shrug takes away the major weak link of the arms.

But there is more to it than the sheer mechanics of it. It is very systemic. Heavy weights do something special. When you choose to work heavy, basic movements, your body produces more hormones – specifically growth hormone and testosterone.

It becomes a case of something I adore – synergy; where the results are greater than the sum of the parts.

Here’s how it’s done.

About The Author


A guy obsessed with stripping down whatever field he studies to get the optimum return from effort expended. Sort of like Tim Ferriss, except with zero fame.

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