How To Do The Scarecrow Exercise Properly

If you are a bench press lover who constantly experiences shoulder pain from muscle overuse, then thank the heavens you’ve come across the scarecrow exercise.

Sure it does have a strange name, but this exercise will have you regretting not knowing about it earlier.

It is essentially meant for your neck muscles

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and grab a weight plate in each hand.
  • Tighten your abs and bend at the hips and knees until your upper body is almost parallel to the floor.
  • Keep your lower back arched the entire time and your hands hanging straight down.
  • Row the weight plates to the sides of your upper body until your upper arms are in line with your entire body.
  • Then, rotate both forearms until the weight plates are at the same level as your head.
  • Press the plates out in front of your body before slowly returning to the starting position. This is a complete rep.
  • Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps each, making sure to rest for 60 seconds between your sets.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE SCARECROW EXERCISE WORK?

During the exercise, you target the deltoids and rotator cuff muscles in your neck primarily. As you work your deltoids you also recruit the upper and lower trapezius muscles on your back.

The scarecrow exercise also requires that you tighten your core, which means you get to strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles too.

BENEFITS OF THE SCARECROW EXERCISE

REDUCES SHOULDER PAIN

If you regularly press heavy weights with shoulders that are not conditioned to accommodate heavy weights, you unknowingly open the gates for all kinds of shoulder injuries that could reduce your range of motion and increase risk for muscle damage.

The scarecrow exercise can help reduce this risk by strengthening your rotator cuff muscles and your deltoid muscles, which then increases your shoulder stability.

IT IS VERSATILE

This exercise does not restrict you to only using weight plates; you are free to use other weights such as dumbbells if you find them easier to use.

Also, if you are not open to the idea of using weights you can instead just do it without weights, which would make it more of a stretching than a strengthening exercise.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE SCARECROW EXERCISE

OVERHEAD PRESS

The overhead press, also referred to as the overhead shoulder press, is a great shoulder movement for anyone looking to develop both shoulder size and strength.

You can take the difficulty a notch higher by using heavier weights, but this is not advisable if you are a beginner.

It recruits your deltoids, triceps, trapezius and pectorals.

How you do it:

  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Lift dumbbells or a barbell to your shoulder and raise it over your head to perform an overhead press.
  • Hold it above your head for two seconds before lowering it down in a slow and controlled motion until you get back to the starting position.
  • Do as many reps as you wish.

If you are at an advanced fitness level, you could try out a variation of this movement called the military press.

This variation is almost completely similar to the overhead press, except you do it with your feet together instead of keeping them apart.

It works your core a bit more since it requires more stability.

STABILITY BENT-OVER DUMBBELL REAR DELT RAISE

This exercise is used to increase muscle size in your rear deltoids, but it also works your middle traps and rhomboids.

How to do it:

  • Start by standing beside a squat rack and hold on to it below or at chest level.
  • Grab a dumbbell with your opposite hand and then hinge at the hips.
  • Keep your chest up and shoulders down then, with your working elbow slightly bent, squeeze your shoulders and upper back.
  • Press the dumbbell up and outwards along your side.
  • Slowly get back to the starting position and repeat these steps.

This movement trains your posterior deltoids along with your upper back.

It also helps you correct muscle imbalances between the two sides by making you move unilaterally to work one side at a go.

SCARECROW EXERCISE MISTAKES TO AVOID

NOT TIGHTENING YOUR CORE

Engaging your core with provide you with the stability you need for your torso to remain stable during the exercise.

It also works your abs, which is a plus for anyone looking to tone their midsection.

JERKING THE WEIGHTS UP

This is a strengthening exercise that relies on the amount of time your target muscles spend under tension.

This means you need to use slow and controlled motions instead of jerking motions which would have the effect of reducing the time under tension (TUT) of your muscles.

NOT WARMING UP

Warming up before the scarecrow exercise will help activate your muscle fibres for a more effective workout.

If you do not warm up, you might not only get a less effective workout but also risk hurting your muscles.

USING HEAVY WEIGHTS

If you choose to use weights for this movement, you may want to go light on them.

Going heavy, especially if your shoulder strength is still limited, could be counterproductive as it puts you at risk of hurting your shoulders even more.

FINAL WORD

Your shoulders play an important role in keeping your upper body stable and enabling you to perform a wide range of activities in your everyday life.

Hence, your shoulder health should  not be overlooked.

This exercise is among the many movements that you can use to strengthen them and increase their flexibility for a greater range of motion.

With stronger shoulders, you will likely develop a better posture and better form for pressing movements and most other exercises that require you to use your upper body.

However, if you have a history of significant injury or pain on your shoulders or upper back, make sure to consult a health care professional on whether or not the scarecrow exercise is good for you.