Kylo Ren, aka Ben Solo, may be dead, and in Jedi heaven, but his spirit lives on in fanfic and internet challenges. This week, the #BenSoloChallenge struck a collective nerve, as fans attempted to recreate the moment Solo gets ready to fight the Knights of Ren while wearing a tastefully tailored black sweater. And while they may not realize it — fans are subtly inching towards a physique of which Shirtless Kylo Ren would approve, if they make a slight modification to the challenge.
The #BenSoloChallenge recreates the moment where Solo prepares to do battle on the Sith-controlled planet, Exegol. Once he’s surrounded by baddies he reaches behind his back, pulls out a blue lightsaber, gives a yeah I’m a good guy now shrug, then goes into butt-kicking time.
Fans of all ages have lovingly recreated this moment and shared their #BenSoloChallenge across the internet, sometimes with lightsabers, sometimes with other weapons, and other times with a bit of a surprise.
While there’s nothing wrong with doing the #BenSoloChallenge for the sake of showing off some good-natured fandom, the physical movements involved in the challenge beg the question: what will this do for my bod? And it’s that not absurd to go to the way of the Jedi when you work out — there are a number of Star Wars work-outs designed to help people get into shape.
The shoulder shrug
Sharon Woodard, an associate professor in Wake Forest University’s health and exercise science program — and a big Star Wars fan — points out to Inverse that the “shoulder shrug” exercise is a part of a healthy fitness program. These shrugs target the trapezius muscles, which are located in the upper back and cover the neck and shoulders.
Woodard explains, that by doing shoulder shrug exercises, one strengthens the trapezius muscle to improve posture and reduce neck and shoulder strain. To do a correct shoulder shrug exercise, you begin by standing or sitting with your arms down and palms facing your sides. Then, you lift your shoulders toward your ears then back down, and repeat.
But let’s cut to the chase — while Woodard concedes that the #BenSoloChallenge does “look cool!” it doesn’t offer any strength building due to “incorrect form and minimal repetitions.” Sorry.
That said, she does offer Inverse a twist on the challenge that could ignite some benefits:
If one was to get two lightsabers, which weigh around 11 pounds each, hold them down at their sides and perform three sets of 10 reps at least 3 times a week, one would build strength.
Simon Holzapfel, a clinical assistant professor in exercise science at Arizona State University, also tells Inverse that a possible benefit of the #BenSoloChallenge “might be improved shoulder mobility and range of motion” — although, he’s careful to note that’s his speculation. He recommends doing this exercise with both arms (but one at a time is fine).
So there you go: When the viral component of the challenge is over, you don’t have to give up playing Ben Solo. Just grab a couple of lightsabers, Ahsoka Tano style, and do some reps. You could also throw in some other shoulder mobility exercises while you’re at it.
While you won’t become the most swole Jedi in the galaxy, at least you’ll get in a healthy stretch.