Scapular Retraction

While this seems like a simple exercise, scap retractions are difficult to perfect because people have a difficult time developing the mind-muscle connection.

Here it is…

As you see in the video, doing scap retractions basically is squeezing your  shoulder blade together.

All pulling movements start with this motion. Well, in theory. Otherwise you end up “arming” the movement. Basically you pull with your arms and shoulders instead of the stronger back muscles. So, every time you do a back exercise like Rows, Lat Pull-Downs, Face Pulls and even Pull-ups, think about this exercise and initiate the motion with your scapula.

How to do Scapula Retractions

Think… Put your shoulder blades in your back pocket.

  1. Attach a light band at shoulder height.
  2. With arms reached straight out front, squeeze your shoulders together.
  3. Hold for 3 – 5 seconds.
  4. Release. and let the band pull your arms forward.
  5. Repeat as prescribed.
  • Keep elbow flexion to a minimum.

Common Errors With Scapular Retraction

  • Trying to strong-arm the movement. “Arming” the exercise.
  • Using the upper traps instead of the scapula. Shrugging the exercise.
  • Thinking it’s a huge movement. Start with what you can control.

While I focus on horizontal cap retractions think about doing the vertically as well.

The vertical scap retraction is a similar motion. You pull back. But add a downward motion to the mix. I typically do them on a pull down machine. But a band works. Just make sure you have a high enough spot to make an attachment above you head.