Answer: The Scapula Pull up
Scapula Pull ups are a very underutilised movement by almost everyone. However they are extremely beneficial for shoulder health, scapular strength, improving pull up form and helping to progress to more difficult calisthenic exercises such as the Front Lever. We dive right in and have a quick look at this small but mighty exercise.
Function of the scapula
The primary function of the scapula is to attach the arm to the body. The head of the Humerus bone sits in the Glenoid cavity of the scapula, to create the shoulder joint. The scapula is a winged, floating bone that slides around the back of your rib cage. It allows your arm to move freely through a large range of motion.
The scapula pull up exercise
Demonstrated on our Power Rings by bodyweight athlete Mr Pep.
Take hold of the rings and let your body sink down, allowing your arms to be pulled up as high as possible. Then by retracting, pulling back, your shoulders the aim is to pull your scapula down as low as possible. Ensure to keep your arms straight and locked at all times. Think of the movement as the opposite of a shrug, with a shrug you begin with your arms low and pull the traps up.
The reason why it is so good
Many people carry lots of tension in their traps, combined with spending many hours a day at our desks, we are always in anterior flexion. This means our shoulders are hunched forward and traps are tight. This exercise helps to counteract this, pulling the traps and shoulders back and down – where they belong.
It is also essential for proper pull up and lat pull down form. These movements must begin by first retracting the scapula, to engage the lats, then the rowing part of the movement begins. This helps to fix shoulder problems when rowing, and maximise lat engagement.