How To Do Scapular Push Ups Properly

Scapular push ups, aka scap push ups or shoulder blade push ups, use a limited range of motion to strengthen and build your scapular muscles.

In case you don’t know what the scapula is or where it is located, it is the wide bone which connects the trapezius, rhomboids and pectoralis minor.

If the term “scapula” sounds foreign to you, then maybe you’ll find “shoulder blades” more familiar.

The two mean the same thing; the former is the medical term that describes the latter.

There’s a lot to learn about scapular push ups but before we get to everything else, let’s start with how to do it with the correct form:

  • Begin by getting on all fours with your toes and knees flexed and pressed to the floor.
  • Grip the ground with both hands and engage your lats by rotating your shoulders outward.
  • Extend your legs to lift both knees off the floor so that you get into a high plank. Make sure your legs are hip-width apart.
  • Pre-tension your hips and shoulders while bracing your core.
  • Squeeze your glutes and quads. This is your starting position.
  • While keeping your body aligned from head to toe, straighten your arms and pull your shoulder blades back. Pause for a few seconds.
  • With your arms still straight, push your shoulder blades away from each other to protract them. Pause again for a few seconds.
  • Keep retracting and protracting your shoulder blades for as many reps as you desire.

WHAT MUSCLES DO SCAPULAR PUSH UPS WORK?

The main muscle targeted by scapular push ups is the serratus anterior which is located on either side of your ribcage.

These muscles work together to keep your scapulae flat against the upper back.

Other significant muscles involved are the levator scapulae, rhomboids, pectoralis minor and the subclavius.

BENEFITS OF SCAPULAR PUSH UPS

CORRECT “WINGED SCAPULA”

Winged scapula is a condition where the muscles of your shoulder blades are weak, which causes them to stick out like wings.

Physical therapists recommend this exercise to help correct this condition and get your shoulders back to normal.

IMPROVE SHOULDER MOBILITY

Scapula muscles enable movement in your shoulders and shoulder blades.

Working these muscles makes it easier to move your shoulders more easily as you perform your daily tasks, which makes it a functional exercise.

ARE A GREAT WARM UP EXERCISE

Scapular push ups are great for preparing your body for exercises that require a lot of shoulder strength and mobility, like pulling movements.

Use them to warm up your shoulders, arms and chest the next time you want to perform pull ups or deadlifts to activate your muscle fibers and minimize the risk of injury.

IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE

Scapular push ups can help improve your overall posture.

When you strengthen the muscles that are responsible for controlling your shoulder blades, your body naturally pulls your arms and shoulders backward to give you a better posture.

This is especially helpful if you spend long hours working on a computer, which tends to encourage a posture that slumps forward.

ALTERNATIVES TO SCAPULAR PUSH UPS

BARBELL OVERHEAD SHOULDER PRESS

Also known as the barbell standing shoulder press, this classic shoulder exercise works more than just your shoulders.

It also recruits your arm, chest and back muscles which are all involved in pressing the bar upward.

To do it properly:

  • Hold a barbell at shoulder height, with both palms facing forward.
  • Position your feet at shoulder width.
  • Tighten your core to give you stability.
  • Press the bar upward and tighten your shoulder blades at the top position.
  • Lower the bar slowly and with control to get back to the starting position.
  • Repeat as many times as you please.

SEATED DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESS

This exercise uses dumbbells to strengthen and isolate your shoulder muscles from a seated position.

To perform it well, follow these steps:

  • Find a bench with a low back and sit on it, with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Lift the dumbbells to shoulder level and make sure your palms are facing forward.
  • Keeping your spine and head straight, lift the weights overhead towards each other, stopping just before they touch at the top position.
  • Hold this position for a second or two before reversing to the starting position.
  • Repeat as many times as you desire.

SCAPULAR PUSH UPS MISTAKES TO AVOID

PROGRESSING TO THE GROUND TOO QUICKLY

When you are doing this exercise, avoid rushing to the ground almost immediately after starting.

This could be because your upper body isn’t strong enough to allow you to progress to the ground gradually as you focus the tension on your shoulders.

If you are having a hard time getting yourself to progress downward slowly, you could try placing your hands on an elevated surface so that your torso does not have to bear too much bodyweight as you move towards the floor.

As you get stronger, you can ditch the elevated surface and start trying the push up with your hands on the ground.

SAGGING YOUR HIPS

Hip sagging is an equally common mistake among people who are performing scapular push ups. It mostly happens when you lack adequate core and hip strength to get yourself into the proper position.

When your hips drop into extension, your back is put under a lot of stress, which could lead to lower back pain or even worse, disc bulges and herniations.

To prevent a hip sag, put your hands on an elevated surface (such as a bench) to reduce the amount of weight that your core is required to support during this exercise.

You can also roll your hips underneath you to keep your abs and glutes tight. This helps keep your hips in the correct position.

FORWARD HEAD POSTURE

Most people tend to jut their heads forward while doing scapular push ups, which could happen because they have unstable shoulders.

Reaching your neck and head forward puts a lot of stress on your cervical spine and your neck muscle stabilizers.

You can fix this by tucking your chin slightly at the top position, as if you want to make a double chin.

This relaxes your neck muscles a bit so you don’t have to strain them during the exercise.

CONCLUSION

Whether you are just bored with regular push ups or you are looking to strengthen your shoulder blades, scapular push ups are a great option to consider. Try them out today and see for yourself!