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June 22, 2022

How And When To Use Scapular Pull Ups

Today we’re covering all things scapular pull ups – the what, why, how and when!

I’d argue most humans who are able would benefit from using scapular pull ups in some way shape or form. They’re great for warm ups, gaining awareness of your scapulas and how to move them, and of course strengthening your back.

Below is a video demonstration. Look at the space that is created between the ears and shoulders as the scapulas are drawn down “into my back pockets.” These can be scaled with assistance (as shown), use a band, or made more difficult via adding a weight belt. Benefits all around.

It’s such a small movement but not one to be scoffed at. I see this all the time with one on one clients who are wanting to achieve their first pull up. For someone who struggles with initiating their pull and tends to let shoulders elevate towards the ears as they pull up, these might be a great drill.

Watch below for more on scapular pull-ups:

▪️WHAT: Vertical pull – can be done with many grip options. Pronated shown here.Scapular depression, retraction and thoracic extension. Targets ALL of the things: rhomboids, lats, mid and lower traps, teres major and more.Think of this as the segmented initiation phase of the pull up. Straight arms, scaps in your back pockets, space between the shoulder and ears.

▪️WHY: Fantastic for mobility, awareness and scapular control.

▪️WHEN: Likely in a warm up/movement prep for a vertical pressing or pulling day. You could use it as accessor as well, just be able to explain why.

▪️HOW: I am doing one of my all time fave assisted versions here. Under a BB, in a squat with feet out front.

You can do these bw from a pull up bar, weighted even. On an assisted machine, or under a bar with feet in pike, squat, or cross cross.I am more concerned with full ROM and control than if you do these with assistance or not.

Do you and/or have you used scap pulls in your training?

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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