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Getting Trapped by RenEx

Getting Trapped by RenEx

17 comments written by Joshua Trentine

Getting Trapped by RenEx

by Joshua Trentine

My apologies to Ad I managed to miss his question on the blog “Trapped”.

adligtvoet December 1, 2012 at 5:55am

Joshua and the RenEx team,

Very good article. I see that you bent forward during the OME shrug but not during the neck/shoulder (brings the plates down to rest??). Could you describe what you exactly do during the OME shrug? Is the start sort of retraction movement of the traps? I also see that(in my opinion) your neck flexes more forward than keeping it in line with the thoracic spine. Is this for a specific reason or do I misinterpret the situation? I do the shrug also on the OME but with a straight bar (not ideal). Could you post a picture of the bar you use eventual with measurements? You describe that when the machine (neck/shoulder) allows for a high elevation the retraction movement will be involved too. When I do shrugs I keep the retraction during the movement.

I can tell that the stabilizing function of the muscles concerning the scapula are very important for proper body posture. I mean look around in our text sending/reading age. My have could avoid surgery of the shoulder by using the med-x neck/ shoulder and row .Done for keeping the shoulder blades more stable during daily activity and also to pull the humerus a bit down because of stronger latissimus. Living proof, but what do many others do when explained to them the value of proper exercise? They do a shrug, to shrug off that idea and went for a walk on the treadmill head down while looking for texting.



Hi Ad,

…Again my sincerest apologies for not getting to this sooner. This is a very thoughtful question, and I’m embarrassed that it got buried under all of the nonsense.

I have a statement that I frequently make that I think applies here: “To a great extent the equipment you use will ultimately dictate the expression of your intended protocol.”

The reason the behaviors are different on the two exercises is because the lines of pull are very different on the exercises. Compounding the line-of-pull differences, the exercises utilize different means to arrest reactionary forces and utilize different means by which the resistance is applied to the body.

On the SuperSlow® Systems Neck & Shoulder the direction of pull is oriented downward and coupled through the lower arm. While the machine has a rotary axis, the net effect is that of a straight pull directed downwardly on the arms. The coupled force against the lower arms draws the shoulder girdle downward.

The Neck & Shoulder is not for performing an unslumping/ slumping movement. Slumping merely causes unloading of the musculature. The only time to unslump/slump in this machine is to load/ unload the musculature; the force remains as resistance against the musculature only when the torso maintains an erect attitude.

One might believe that this posture precludes complete involvement of the intended periscapular groups. This might be true with conventional apparatus like a Hammer Strength® Deadlift/ Shrug or a Barbell Shrug, but the compounding effect of this exercise—the inclusion of all of the intended musculature—is granted by cam effect, protocol, and available range of motion (ROM) (the small stuff 😀 ).

Ken and I were recently discussing what happens on the Neck & Shoulder exercise when the cam varies enough to allow us to elevate our shoulder girdle adequately to congest against ourselves in the exercise. We agreed that if you are allowed to get that far into the exercise and inroad effectively, and recruit deeply enough, you will not only call upon the muscles that elevate the shoulder girdle, but also the ones that retract it.

Effect the entire back

The Neck & Shoulder exercise will provide a more-complete stimulus for the entirety of the trapezius (upper, middle, and lower) as well as provide a compound-like effect to the entire back. This is why I do not like placing Neck & Shoulder in the same workout as either overhead press or deadlift.

Now the shrug exercise on the Nautilus® Omni-Multi-Exercise (OME) is a completely different exercise. The line of pull is not straight down. It is well in front of the torso and its line of pull is on a diagonal—forward and downward.

The other big variable is that the Neck & Shoulder machine radically reduces the load toward the upper turnaround as we begin to become congested against ourselves. This explodes the exercise to make it far more inclusive as stated above. It really must be felt to be believed.

The OME cam does not vary this way at all. As a matter of fact it slightly does the opposite… it undesirably increases the resistance during the positive. We can somewhat minimize this problem by maintaining the range of the movement arm during the exercise to correspond with a rather slight variance of the cam. Since the shrug traverses a short ROM, we can select the right spot on the cam where we can experience a very mild cam effect… one that only slightly varies the load.

Now this situation is neither variable nor balanced to the user’s needs, but we can still pick up a great effect by using the line of pull of the apparatus against the muscles through the fullest available ROM we can manage. The inclusion of shoulder elevation, retraction, along with cervical and thoracic extension makes this exercise one heck of a work-around when ideal equipment is unavailable. It keeps tension on the muscles well enough to achieve a thorough and efficient inroad.

Now take these behaviors that we tailored to the apparatus and add low-friction retrofits throughout every articulation on the OME along with a custom shrug bar that completely gets out of your way and we have a fine exercise for some of the population. Here we have an exercise that I’ve used to release muscle tension in my neck, but also an exercise that has likely added mass to my trapezius and upper back over the course of the summer and fall of 2012.

Nautilus OME at The Strength Room in Toronto

I’ve had a very unique opportunity over the last year. I’ve consistently been trained by Gus, Al, or even Ken. Most of the time I train with Al Coleman, since we work out of the same location. During the five or six times a year I’m with Ken down in Florida I get Ken to train me as often as possible.

Getting Trapped

Since March of 2012 I’ve made it up to Toronto just about every other week; and over this period Gus has trained me more than anyone else. The reason I mentioned this is because I feel like I’ve had my best and most productive year training ever and I’ve had a number of people mention the same thing to me quite a few times, especially at our conference in October. The most common comment I’ve heard from people in the last few months is that my upper trapezius looks bigger.

Nearly every time I train with Gus I do my “B Routine,” and I always do shoulder shrug in that routine. Gus does not have a Neck & Shoulder machine, so a great number of times my B Routine includes shrug on the OME. There is no way to estimate how much the change in my appearance came from the inclusion of this exercise on this machine as compared to the designated Neck & Shoulder apparatus down in Cleveland. I do know for sure that I added muscle in this area, and I do know that this exercise is one that I wasn’t doing before. Now whether this was from the inclusion of this exercise, Gus’s expert instruction, the sum of all of my RenEx workouts or the Neck & Shoulder machines in Cleveland and Orlando, I don’t know. I do know that I experienced significant growth and this was one of the variables.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Joshua Trentine December 21, 2012 at 11:59 am

Still on vacation, but I hope to keep providing material for people to enjoy over the holidays.

To Ad, I hope this helps some….the only other thing I could include is video showing the OME Shrug from front and profile.


avatar ad ligtvoet December 22, 2012 at 6:05 am

Hi Joshua,
Thank you very much for taking your time to explain in words as good as possible the WHY of the shrugg execution on the ome. I will experiment a bit to get the right feeling of the exercise and will then implement it in my workout.Let you know how it works out. A video from the side would be nice since I could use that image to relate to my execution form. But no hurry here, I don’t like to “claim”time . When you talk about adjusting the cam ,do you mean one can start with the movement arm at a certain height away from the endstop?Can be done with attaching a chain to the hook,correct?What would be the best start position with this in mind?
There was really no need to apologize and you delivered more then expected.
Enjoy your holidays and best wishes to everyone for 2013.May the discussions stay rational,only then is there something to learn.


avatar Joshua Trentine December 23, 2012 at 12:16 am


You are very welcome.



avatar Bill S. December 21, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Very valuable information.

The Strength Room looks sweet and I really like that lighting.

Josh, you are looking great.


avatar bobby December 22, 2012 at 6:59 am

That’s why we read these posts. You travel to Toronto to train and I am less than an hour away using equipment, similar to bags of potatoes,and have no help at all. I’ll check them out now.
Every one have a merry Christmas and happy new year


avatar Bradley warlow December 24, 2012 at 9:54 am

This reminds me of the photos of Ellington Darden with his really thick neck muscles that he built from doing neck isolation exercises.. He knew back then that muscles needto be targeted directly for superior development. Its really got me bak into adding isolations exercises on top of the conventional routines.


avatar Bradley warlow December 24, 2012 at 10:00 am

Although the trapped post clearly shows that the trapezius is very difficult to target with the big five routine, i think this post tells us the importance of isolating weak body parts for optimal growth stimulation


avatar Donnie Hunt December 27, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Something that keeps going through my mind is a comment that Gus had made a couple of times, something along the lines of “muscles don’t lift weights, they contract”. This has made me think about the load aspect of exercise. It’s almost like the load is simply there to help you FEEL the muscles contract? Has anyone ever progressed doing dynamic contractions with no load or outside resistance?

The load being as low as necessary in conjunction with the slow speed of contraction keeps the forces/wear and tear on the body very low? It’s almost like the slow speed of movement requires alot of effort/ energy output in and of itself.


avatar Donnie Hunt December 28, 2012 at 6:43 pm

The load helps keep the trainee in check? When using as low a load as necessary in conjunction with a speed that minimizes momentum, keeps the trainee from ever reaching a contraction with too much force or sudden changes in speed?


avatar Mark February 15, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I believe that somewhat the opposite of “load keeping the trainee in check” can also take place: “Contract the muscle, don’t lift the weight” also assists in constructing what might be called an “intellectual cam” to shore-up weak segments in resistance curves : When it gets easier, contract harder.


avatar Donnie Hunt February 24, 2013 at 8:14 pm

I just read this comment Mark. Would you mind going into more detail?


avatar Donnie Hunt February 24, 2013 at 8:16 pm

You are saying that when the resistance is less, it is easy for the trainee to just sort of go along for the ride?

avatar Pete December 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm

It has been about 6 mths since I purchased the book and got access to the two videos, these combined with the discussions on this website are proving to be invaluable to my training progress, I am in Australia and train on Kieser machines (similar to MedEx) once weekly using an A & B routine. I am 44 yrs old and am experiencing muscle development, strength gains and body fat reduction even better than when I tried training like Arnold s encyclopedia in my twenties but with one clear distinction. My goal then was to impress people, gain respect, be the tough guy, today my goal is to be free of disease and immobility, be strong enough to have fun and survive well while avoiding the “belly of the beast” as Doug McGuff said. I focus on perfecting the process itself, inroading, safety recovery, rest, sensible nutrition, what I am saying is, change the quality of ones intention, become emotionally and intellectually aligned to it and the results will manifest, “energy flows, where attention goes, as guided by intention”

Best to you all, I hope to become more involved in the future and visit you in the USA



avatar ad ligtvoet December 29, 2012 at 6:07 am

I agree.
I think that many of us started the muscle building game for the same reason as you did in the past. But I think and experience that this impressing etc.(not the goal anymore but happens anyway )is what happens the older one gets and be able to keep the muscles,stay healthy and out of the belly of the beast. If you look around and see all these out of shape people , young and older, we ,looking vital, become a rare breed. We can stay this way because of not destroying the skelleton while stimulating the muscles. So I think that a lot of the younger trainee’s looking good now won’t be able to keep up at over 40 of age.


avatar Donnie Hunt December 29, 2012 at 10:33 pm

I have really been getting alot from the recent, very detailed writings regarding form on this website and Drew Bayes website.


avatar Pete December 30, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I have too, Drew has some great insights, i have down loaded his ramblings, excellent reading.
Gents regarding traps development, I do not practice a specific movement directly, however I perform neck flex-ion, neck extension, compound rows as part of my A/B routines, does this negate the need for a direct exercise?



avatar Donnie Hunt December 30, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Hey Pete, I remeber reading some Drew’s Post Workout Induced Ramblings back in 2000 or 2001
. Great stuff indeed! I can relate to your history with training.


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