When you start building explosiveness with weights there is always someone chirping about Olympic lifting moves. However, learning to ride Olympic lifts is a slower and more arduous process than anyone who has never tried it would think. There are more setbacks than breakthroughs. I should know that I've dedicated a decade of my life to Olympic weightlifting.
When you have the time and energy to devote yourself to it, it can be rewarding and spiritually engaging. Now, if you want to train explosive skills, there are better options. The dumbbell power shrug is one of your best options.
To train explosiveness, stick to basic movements and learn to train them remarkably well.
If you're interested in learning more about the principles that form the basis of any movement, check out my two-week, in-depth online course that teaches the immutable principles of all barbell lifts. How to restore your body's resilience and control is about to begin.
You don't need a lot of equipment or coaching for an exercise like a dumbbell power shrugand you can customize it to suit your needs and make it harder over time.
You can create a foundation of athleticism, coordination, and explosive potential in the gym for any other physical hobbies you enjoy, but you need to understand how first.
The benefits of the dumbbell shrug
The dumbbell power shrug builds athletic strength.
There aren't many exercises that work out these traits in the gym, except when throwing or hitting heavy med balls.
The benefits of training for explosive force
Unless you're doing a sport that requires explosive movements, you may not be interested in an exercise that develops that skill.
The ability to move quickly, move, or catch when you trip, or change direction is an explosive move. It's a physical ability that we often overlook. However, this is not only important for younger people trying to participate in physical exercise.
With age, the ability to explode decreases before other physical traits such as strength, flexibility, and even muscle mass. Unless you're very explosive at first, that drop will be an even bigger problem.
One of the greatest risks of injury in old age is the loss of this explosive reflex.
If we trip and you cannot move your feet fast enough to catch yourself or reach out your hands, you will be injured. Knee, hip, and back injuries from falls can be reduced as you age by adding explosive workout to the mix.
If you are younger and want to be more powerful, this is a great tool that doesn't involve learning new or complicated skills. If you want to train that hard, all you have to do is crouch properly and remember how to jump.
The best part about this exercise is that almost every muscle that starts in the lower body and moves up the chain has forceful contact.
The sequence of movement teaches coordination, which in strength training can generally only be learned by engaging in Olympic weightlifting.
A group of trainers close to me call this coordination the chain of command.
The idea is that large muscles should fire before smaller ones during complex explosive movements. For the power shrug, the strongest muscles of the lower body fire when you crouch and stretch up.
When you reach the top of the movement and deploy, the traps should twitch at the same time as your ankles deploy. However, these smaller muscles only work after the larger muscles initiate the movement.
How to do the dumbell power shrug
You need a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand.
Grab it and get up. Then, fold over and crouch down so the dumbbells are somewhere between your kneecaps and ankles. Press firmly against the floor as if trying to drive your ankles through the floor. (This will help you stay in contact with the ground longer and not come on your toes prematurely, as many do when they think of a jump action.) Keep pushing hard through your feet as you extend and remember to keep your body closed for this long stretch as if you were trying to jump and reach your head towards the ceiling. Keep your arms long and your elbows relaxed. Push even harder through your knuckles at the very top, remembering to shrug your shoulders to your ears. If you focus on pushing hard through your knuckles, You will hit the balls of your feet, but your toes will not lose contact with the ground. Time your shrug with the exact moment the heels lift off the floor. Once you are fully extended, immediately drop your heels again and crouch again. Try to do this as a continuous, fluid motion with no rest for the set number of repetitions.
When you're comfortable, change it up by starting from the floor. Touch the dumbbells to the floor on each rep.
This deeper squat is harder than you think. It would be helpful if you had enough hip mobility to squat this low with good posture and so you can train the hip muscles differently.
Mistakes to Avoid
A big mistake is to let your entire foot off the ground and bounce. Use light weights and it's no big deal, but start grabbing heavier bells and it could hurt you.
When you ride hard like you should, your heels will leave the ground but always keep part of your foot in contact with the ground.
One off-balance landing after an actual jump and you see a foot or ankle injury.
A more advanced dumbbell power shrug
Once you have trained the movement and gradually gained weight, you can challenge yourself at various tempos.
You can eccentric (lower) the weight into your squat position before extending it as quickly as possible. Or you could do something like a 3 count eccentric, with a break down below for another 3 counts.
A basic move like the power shrug makes it easy to modify and more challenging so you can keep training hard.