Friday, September 29, 2017

The Mysterious Hise Shrug, Part Two- Fred R. Howell (1986)

The Author, Fred Howell

Part One is Here: 

 George Kelling: 
 "I feel the shoulder shrug can help because everyone  can do it. Even those sitting in a wheel chair. You can use hand pressure downward on their shoulders. Any combination for circulatory improvement. The blood is moved by thoracic suction and it will help the lower limbs. Many of my patients who could not stand or walk have used this as a great start on exercise.

"The shoulder shrug can give you the confidence of a powerlifter. It can stimulate the body muscles, glands and circulation without full exercises, if you, for some reason, can't do them.

"You may not look like a Mr. Winner and few exercisers do, but you will fell like a winner and have less joint problems as you get older. But correct performance is a must, for without it you can't expect the fine results you can get from the exercise.

"Everyone can use better posture and that's one thing the Hise Shrug can help you maintain. When I had perfect posture, I was immediately 20% stronger. If I got careless and lost it, I went back to normal strength. Hise used to say that Grimek had perfect natural posture and could gain muscle throwing spit balls." 

Today at 61 years of age, Dr. Kelling is hale and healthy. Spinal X-rays show him to be free of arthritis and other trauma to his spine from all his heavy exercise. He always wondered how it would affect him in later years and now he has the answer. It didn't harm him at all as he has advanced in age.

All good things, must, they tell me, come to an end, so it's time to leave 9559 Winner Road and head west to Monticello, Utah and visit with James E. Douglass, a long time friend of Joe Hise. He is a typical harder gainer who had to struggle to gain muscle, strength, and some bodyweight. 

Jim is a wonderful man, and he will happily introduce you to two new ways of doing the shrug if we can coax him out of his garden or away from his shrug machine long enough to talk with ut.

When we arrive, Jim is busy exercising with his secret shrug machine, with Ebenezer the cat and Buster his dog-pal as his training companions. Jim had polio of the throat, neck, shoulders and left arm as a teenager. In desperation he turned to exercise to regain his health. You can read his full story in the March 1982 issue of Iron Man. Here: 

Once he regained his breath and glad for the rest, Jim was ready to tackle my questions about his shrug history and inventions. In reply to my questions about how he met Joe Hise he replied, "Like so many others I first read about Hise in the pages of the old Strongman magazine. We corresponded for about five years and then finally met when Hise came to pay me a visit. I hadn't been making much progress and in his first letter to me he cut down my exercise routine to 10 basic exercises and I began to gain weight and muscle. 

Joe Roark's IronHistory forum has several pages of letters from Mr. Douglass to Joe R. 

"When Hise first wrote me about the shoulder shrug, I tried it with a barbell bar as he had been doing. When I worked up to fairly heavy weights, I decided the movement using a bar just wasn't worth the torture. I had invented the Magic Circle when looking for a method to do squats and expand the upper chest to deeper dimensions. A friend had made a device to do squats because he didn't like the heavy bar across his shoulders. I didn't like his contraption, so I experimented with my own ideas. 

Note - Note those two words used in that one paragraph: invented and experimented

First I made one of pipe and then evolved to a flat steel circle with a harness just like the one for sale now by Peary Rader in Iron Man.

"One day I tried using my Magic Circle for shrugs and it worked great. Gone was the discomfort of the bar across the shoulders and my chest was free to really expand. Also, the guys and gals that try the magic circle at my home gym live it for it's so easy to use. You can really 'stand tall' in a circle!

"To keep my interest high I like some variety, and with this in mind I tried other methods of doing the shrug. The squat harness worked fine, but I wondered if the further out the weight was suspended from the shoulder joints, the less weight you would have to use.

"I tried dumbbells, but they tended to slip out of my grip when doing high reps or using extra heavy weight, and in addition they rubbed against my legs. I got to thinking about the old time Irish laborers who years ago pushed a wheelbarrow all day and the stories about how rugged they were. They had to breathe as they pushed huge loads around during the work day. For those of you who have never tried pushing a wheelbarrow with 500 or 600 pounds of concrete, bricks, or rocks, try it sometime. It will give you an idea of what strength and power it took to run it all day. What power they must have had in their legs, back, hands and shoulders!

"So I made a pipe frame with hinges at one end and one inch diameter handles on the other. A bar was fastened across just in front of where one gripped the handles. This frame was fastened by the hinges to another frame with four legs which supported the handles. The handles could be made closer together if you wanted, but I made it so any size person could use it, wide or narrow shouldered. At this height the weight could be shrugged as high as necessary.

"This was very similar to gripping the handles of a wheelbarrow except that all the weight was on the cross bar just in front of where my hands gripped the handles. I find this is just right for me. It is really no better for results than the magic circle or barbell, but it is easier and handy to use. I enjoy training outdoors, but there is no reason why you couldn't set up my shrug machine indoors on a platform.

"It's a lot of fun to just walk outdoors during my regular workout or whenever the mood strikes me and use my shrug machine. Now I have the choice of shrug methods and never need to become bored"

The shoulder shrug originally came from the puff and pant squat. Charles Tiffin, a pal of Harry "Bosco" Paschall, was working with it at the Eells gym in Columbus, Ohio.

The True Story of Roger Eells, by Harry Paschall, here:

Tiffin used light weights and went as high as 150 reps while 'breathing up' the weight being shrugged. He was called a genius by Hise and both Tiffing and Eels gained and lost large amounts of bodyweight using the shrug.

When J.C. heard about it from friend Eells, he began to experiment with it using heavy weights and see if it would cause an increase in bodyweight the same as the puff and pant squats. Some self-made experts jumped in later and suggested Hise was looking for an easy squat without the squat part of the exercise, which just wasn't true.

As Hise said, "When on a shoulder shrug program don't worry about breathing with your squats. Do a few sets of squats with heavy weights for 5 reps and about 5 sets. Let the breathing when you breathe and shrug the bar up take care of the chest expansion. Also, to get the gain in chest expansion be sure to do some light stretching pullovers."

Yet there were times when Hise would do the 20 rep squat and then take the same poundage and do 60 reps in the shrug. But for the most part he seemed to favor the squat for leg power in low reps and his shrug to give you a super chest expansion.

The equipment used during the shrug is very important for both your safety and in getting maximum results from your efforts. Dr. Kelling mentioned to me he felt the cambered bar was a great help to him when doing the shrug. Cambered bars have been out of style for a long time except those used for deep bench presses. I have no idea if those would be good for squats.

But no matter what bar you may use, straight or cambered, you will need to pad the bar. Do not put too much padding, towels or whatever you may use for it will push your neck forward and far out of line. This will nullify any gains you will get from this breathing shrug exercise.

Do not go to the other extreme and try to do the exercise with little or no padding for with the bar hitting into your vertebrae the only thing you will be able to think about is the discomfort the bar is causing you. Dr. Kelling showed me a one inch thick vinyl foam type of pad he wraps around the bars in his gym for this purpose. It has a lot of give to it, yet it is stronger than soft foam rubber you can buy in a local store.

Shop around and you may find something even better. Kneeling pads used by gardeners, if thick enough and the right size, might make an ideal bar cover and can be cut down to proper size.

Those of you who are lucky enough to have a magic circle will avoid this problem entirely. I myself during the formative years used a straight bar, for I needed to use that bar for deadlifts, too! If I may add a few words about my own use of the Hise shrug before we talk about the best type of rack to use.

I stared to use the Hise shrug when I picked it up from the bulletin I mentioned before and found it gave me a better appetite. As a kid with asthma and arthritis  -

more on Mr. Howell's history here:

 - I needed all the help in that department that I could get for I would much rather skip a meal and eat what we call junk food today. With the use of the shrug all this changed and meals were important for I was hungry! Later when reading back issues of Iron Man, I found out from Dr. J.S. Van Wye this exercise that wasn't an exercise was the Hise Shrug.

Here's that article by J.S. Van Wye:

As the poundage climbs you will need a good strong power rack. Do not use a normal squat stand. Using regular squat stands makes it hard to place the weight back into the supports. If, for some reason you must use regular squat stands, be sure to have a training partner standing by when you do the exercise. Be sure to check out just how much weight those stands are capable of handling. Remember we are talking about 500 pounds or more and safety should be your first priority.

Shrugging with a heavy poundage, Dr. Kelling almost had a serious accident when his rack pulled away from the wall and collapsed. Doc had the good fortune to have help close at hand and was able to unload the bar. His solution to this problem was to dig a large pit in his garage. At the bottom of the trench were graduated steps, so no matter what your height, by using the right step all you had to lift the bar was up an inch and you were ready to shrug. Here Doc, his brother Bud, Frank Regan and the late Foster Mays and his wife June were the guinea pigs working out the best way to do the Hise shrug for best results.

We all can't rush out and dig a pit in our garage [the dang wife came home after dark and drove her car into that pit in the garage], but we can make sure we have solid. strong equipment to use. If at all possible, make sure all you have to do is lift that bar an inch or so and you are ready to shrug. Having to step back with such a heavy poundage is not only dangerous, but wastes a lot of energy!

The poundage you should use when first doing the Hise shrug should be light and easy. It will feel strange at first and you need to build up your coordination so you can breathe in as you shrug and out as you relax.

I personally feel after watching many people do this exercise, that any poundage up to 675 pounds will build a large rib cage. You can in time learn to handle this weight with ease and it's not so heavy that your mind must fully concentrate on holding the weight. Also, as the weight goes beyond 675 it will compress the chest and there will be a loss of rib cage expansion. It may be fine for body power and strength, but you will not be able to expand the chest enough to gain size in the rib cage. Of course, this problem only occurs when using a barbell bar on your shoulders.

Weights over 700 pounds might cause a sore neck area if you don't have thick trapezius muscle padding, for the barbell descending quickly as you relax after shrugging upwards can act just like a hammer on your vertebrae. I will leave it up to our mathematician readers to calculate the amount of force a 700 lb. barbell would generate, but by feel I would say it is considerable.

The number of times per week will best be gauged by your own personal energy level and reaction to exercise. Dr. Kelling worked out twice and sometimes three times a week. Hise told me, "For maximum strength twice a week is best. If you're looking to gain weight and the time and energy, three times a week might be best for gaining bulk." I myself found, like Hise, that because of my great interest in strength, twice a week was best for me.

Nutrition, as you know if you're a steady reader of Iron Man, is an important factor to consider. I have seen many men fail to get results from the shrug and other exercises because they insist on eating junk food and refuse to eat enough nutritious food. If you have a small appetite, eat six small meals a day. No one says you must eat till you fall off the chair, but you can't eat like a tiny sixty year old female and expect to gain strength and muscle from your efforts.

Hise believed in lots of meat, but in 1938 it wasn't as full of hormones and drugs as it is today [1986]. I much prefer chicken, turkey and fish such as tuna as my protein sources. As added benefit will be a lot cleaner arteries and better health in later years. A full range of vitamins and minerals should put all the odds in your favor so that this exercise will work for you.

You may add the Hise shrug to your present routine or use this type of exercise course. The good part about this shrug is that it will blend into any type of routine. A good course for example would be:

after a warmup ,
do the squat 5-8 reps for 4 sets.
Hise shrug, 25 reps for 2 sets, Pullover 15 reps after each set of Hise shrugs.
Barbell press, 10 reps for 2 sets.
A set of leg raises would complete the routine.

If you have the time and energy, go to 3 sets for the exercises listed as 2 sets.

Kelling, because he was such a tough nut to gain, used only the Hise shrug in some of his routines. But it is better to have a fully rounded exercise routine for we all look for a full coating of muscle. This exercise is not designed to make anyone a flabby hulk, but to increase your chest measurement, gain weight for those who need it and that is controlled in part by your food intake. By cutting her food intake, June Mays found she could lose weight by using the Hise shrug. The exercises will, of course, trigger muscle growth but only if there is adequate nutrition. There is no mystery to the Hise shrug as long as it is done correctly, and then it will give you results far beyond your expectations.


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