Is Scapular Pull Ups Bad For Shoulders?

The scapular pull ups are the best exercise for your shoulder blades. However, other people experience pain when they do exercise or after exercising. This does not mean it’s a bad exercise. This article gives you clear instructions that you can follow to do the scapular pull ups workout.

More so, the following paragraphs discuss the different causes of shoulder pain that you might experience when doing the scapular pull-ups exercise. In addition to that, it also discusses the different alternatives that you can try if you can’t do the scapular pull-ups.

Scapular Push Ups.

Doing scapula push-ups is good for making the shoulder blades stronger. That’s why they are called ‘scapula’ because they hit the scapula muscles. Scapula muscles are also known as the shoulder blades. Strengthening the shoulder blades improves your shoulder mobility. To do the exercise; follow the steps below;

  1. Position your body to a high plank and plant your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Your toes must be balancing your body.
  2. Make sure that your body is in a straight line.
  3. Pinch your shoulder blades and keep your arms fully stretched.
  4. Lower your body towards the floor. But make sure you do not lower the chest too much to reach the floor.
  5. Return your body to the plank position. 
Scapular Pull Ups - Scapular Push Ups

Scapular Pull Ups.

The scapular pull-up is the best exercise that you should consider when you want to hit your shoulder blades successfully. The intense exercise can be done with additional weight to make it more intense. To do the exercise correctly; follow the instructions below;

  1. Start by placing a bench under the pull-up bar. Then stand on the bench.
  2. Grasp the bar with your hands a bit wider than the shoulder-width apart. Your hands should be gripping with an overhand and make sure that the palms are facing away from your body.
  3. Then remove your feet from the bench and hang on the bar and avoid swinging your body.
  4. Move your body up for about an inch or do a reverse shrug.
  5. Return your shoulders to the starting position.
  6. You can do three sets of 10 reps.

Scapular Pull Ups Shoulder Pain.

Having shoulder pain after doing pull-ups does not always mean you are developing your shoulders. You might also experience pain when you are doing pull-ups. The pain might be caused by various things. Doing scapula pull-ups incorrectly may result in pain and injuries.  As such, you should make sure that you execute the exercise in the correct way.

Scapular Pull Ups - Shoulder Pain

You might injure your shoulders while training. Shoulder impingement is the common shoulder injury caused by scapular pull ups. Shoulder impingement is the pain in your shoulder blades caused by inflammation or repetitive shoulder movements. You might need to rest or seek medication to relieve yourself of the shoulder pain caused by impingement.

Scapular Pull Ups Jeremy Ethier.

Jeremy Ethier is a Kinesiologist, and he provides scientifically proven methods and ways of training. When it comes to the pull-ups, Jeremy says that there are areas of weakness that prevent many people from doing pull-ups. He mentions lack of scapular stabilizers, lack of core stability, lack of motor control,  weak back strength, and weak brachiodialis as the areas of weakness that prevent many people from executing pull-ups the right way.

To deal with these areas of weakness he suggests doing several exercises such as negative pull-ups to strengthen the back muscles. Another exercise that can strengthen your back is inverted rows. For scapular strength, Jeremy recommends the scapular pull-ups. Then to improve the motor control, he recommends assisted pull-ups. The reverse curls are said to be the best exercise to deal with weak brachiodialis.

Scapular Pull Ups Climbing.

For climbing strength, the scapular pull-ups is one of the ideal exercises. Climbers use their shoulders when climbing, as such having strong shoulders can make climbing more easy and interesting. You may also minimize injuries if your shoulders are well-trained and stronger. The scapular pull-ups do not only strengthen your shoulders but it also stabilizes them. Therefore, you might be able to climb for longer while maintaining a proper form.

Weighted Scapular Pull Ups.

The weighted scapular pull-ups involve training with additional weight to your body. You can use a weight vest or weight belt when doing the scapular pull-ups. Using weight when doing the scapular pull-ups add more resistance and this is good for challenging your body.

In addition to that, additional weight makes you build more muscle mass easier. You build muscle strength by doing fewer sets and reps. Due to the weight, you don’t have to do more reps. Weight makes the exercise more challenging, hence, you just do a few sets and reps.

You can use the weight that you are comfortable with. Use a weight that you can manage as you do the pull-ups. Weight must not block you from doing the pull-ups the right way. You should keep on having a good posture on the bar with the additional weight. Therefore, with weighted scapular pull-ups; you can always adjust the weight.

Can’t Do Scapular Pull Ups.

Scapular Pull Ups - Pull Ups Workout

If you cannot do pull-ups for different reasons, you can try other exercises to strengthen your upper body muscles. The scapular pull-up is a demanding exercise. You must have a strong upper body to do the exercise successfully with a good posture. As such, you can focus on strengthening your upper body to prepare yourself for the scapular pull-ups. Some exercises that you should try to include assisted pull-ups, scapular push-ups, as alternative exercises.

In addition, weak muscles that are connected to the scapular muscles may also affect your pull-ups. You may fail to lift your body up if the muscles surrounding the shoulder blades are weak. For instance, some muscles that affect your pull-ups include rhomboids, lats, trapezius, serratus anterior. As such, these muscles must be strengthened because they affect the shoulder movements, and they may result in uncoordinated moves.

Alternative Workouts.

There are a lot of exercises that you can do in place of the scapular pull-ups. If you cannot do this exercise due to a number of reasons, you can take a look at alternative exercises below;

Assisted Pull Ups.

Assisted pull-ups target the arm muscles. This is good for strengthening the muscles closer to the scapular. Having closer muscles stronger improves the scapular’s strength. And this can improve your motor skills in doing the scapular exercise. You can use a band or assisted pull up the machine to do the assisted pull-ups. Follow the steps below to do the exercise;

  1. Start by tying the bar with a resistance band. Step onto the band with your foot.
  2. Grasp the bar over your head with an overhand grip and keep your palms facing away from your body. Make sure that the band is at the centre of your hands.
  3. Pull your body up until your chin is over the bar. Pause in that position and make sure that you breathe.
  4. Lower your body slowly to the starting position.
  5. You can do 5 sets of 8 to 10 reps. However, if you are a beginner you can start with a few sets and increase the number of sets gradually.

Scapular Push Ups.

Push Up Workout

The scapular push-ups is also another good exercise that you can do to work your shoulder muscles. Besides that, the exercise also works serratus anterior muscles, arms, and more. To do the exercise; follow the instructions relayed in the second paragraph.

Wall Slides.

This another alternative exercise that hits the shoulder muscles effectively. Besides working the shoulders, the wall slides also target the quads and traps. Follow the instructions below to do the exercise;

  1. Stand with your feet at shoulder-width apart. Keep your back against the wall and stand up straight.
  2. Make sure that your shoulder blades are against the wall and then fold your arms in front of your body.
  3. Then bend your knees and slide down the wall until the knees are bent and form a 45-degree angle.
  4. Pause in the bottom of the move for about 5 seconds.
  5. Return your body up to the starting position. Exhale as you return your body up.
  6. Repeat the moves.

Muscles Worked.

The scapular pull-ups primarily target the shoulder blades or scapular muscles. It is a strength exercise, as such; it strengthens your shoulder muscles. Besides targeting the shoulder blades, the exercise also works several upper body muscles. For example, some upper body muscles that the scapular pull-ups targets include traps, lats, rhomboids, external oblique, teres minor, and biceps. As you lift your body, you use your arms. Therefore, the arms definitely benefit from this workout. They get strengthened.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the scapular pull-ups exercise is a strength exercise that might be difficult to execute. However, it cannot be said that it’s a bad exercise for shoulder exercise. It only becomes bad when you fail to do it properly. That may lead to shoulder pain or injuries. As such, many people end up saying it’s a bad exercise due to poor posture on the bar.

 Push up Workout

The above text gives you clear instructions that you can follow to do the scapular pull-ups. Those who are not comfortable doing the scapular pull-ups there are alternative exercises that work similar muscles. Some alternatives include scapular push-ups, assisted pull-ups, among others.

What were your experiences doing the scapular exercise for the first time? Share your experience below?

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