Build big shoulders that look AND feel good. Here’s the exercise you need to add.
Whenever one exercise serves several functions, that’s a win. Halo rotations do just that. Do them as a time-efficient upper-body warm-up drill, as an accessory lift that’ll target your shoulders, or as a minimal-equipment conditioning option. And you can do it all with one weight plate.
- Grab an Olympic-sized plate with hands at 3 and 9 o’clock, and arms bent at stomach height.
- Raise the plate by leading with one elbow so that your forearm barely grazes the top of your head.
- As it does, bring the other elbow up so the plate is now behind your head with arms bent. This opens the shoulders into flexion while stretching the lats and triceps.
- Avoid excessively arching the lower back, and try to keep the ribs stacked over the pelvis.
- Return the plate to the start position, now having the opposite forearm move over the head.
- Visualize “framing” your head with your elbows as you work through this. Once you have a feel for it, focus on performing the halo in a smooth, continuous motion.
- To hit the shoulders, keep your hips stationary. This helps place more tension on the delts. You’ll be strongest in this position.
- For longer-duration sets or more of a conditioning intent, allow your feet and hips to pivot and rotate naturally. Think of yourself corkscrewing upwards from the ground as the plate revolves around you.
Some do this with a kettlebell, but I prefer the plate because its diameter provides more space to clear your head than the narrow grip of a kettlebell’s horns. The plate makes this pattern easier to access for most and is less clunky overall.
You can do plate halos half-kneeling and hover half-kneeling. Half-kneeling may be best if you have trouble establishing a stable pelvis position and want to especially challenge mobility.
- Bend both legs to 90 degrees in a split squat position.
- Crush the glute of the down knee and tuck the back foot of the trailing leg so that the big toe is rooted into the floor.
- If the right knee is down, lead with the right elbow to bias an extra stretch of that same-side hip and lat as you perform the movement.
- To do hover half-kneeling, just raise your down knee so that it floats one or two inches above the ground.
Due to the increased balance demands, you’ll use less weight, but the challenge to core stability is heightened. You’ll instantly understand the need to create full-body tension as the plate encircles you.
Fit plate halos into your training session for reps or timed sets:
- Do them as part of a warm-up, 10-20 reps per side.
- Do them as an accessory move near the end of a workout. Try either 15-30 reps per side, or 30 to 60 seconds of work. Both leave your shoulder girdle feeling pumped and resilient. These are a great way to loosen up after a tough day of pressing and pulling.
Alternatively, try adding halos into a shoulder-focused finisher circuit:
|Plate Halo, Left Side
|Rear Delt Raise
|Plate Halo, Right Side
|Seated Lateral Raise
Do this for 2-4 rounds with 45-60 seconds of rest between sets to cap off your shoulders for the day.
Halos also contribute to a metabolic effect. I like to use these in place of battle rope drills or sledgehammer strikes to get in some different upper-body-focused conditioning work. Set your timer and perform for 45-60 seconds per side as part of 3 or 4 exercise conditioning circuit. Do these in the standing, dynamic fashion.
|Air Bike, Rower, or Jog
Perform the circuit at a repeatable pace. Rest for 60-90 seconds and repeat for 3 to 4 rounds.