Scapular Push-Up (Push-Up Plus)

Posted on 20 Feb 2012 17:57

The scapular pushup is a variation of the push up plus exercise, which is a regular push up that adds a maximal scapular protraction at the end of the ascent, the "plus" position. This scapular protraction in the closed chain position has been demonstrated to cause high levels of activity in the serratus anterior muscle, more than the traditional pushup. It also recruits the other scapular stabilizers.

The serratus helps hold the shoulder blade tightly along the torso and it's proper functioning is of great importance in scapular stability and therefore stability. It is a primary exercise to treat and prevent scapular winging.

Scapula protraction is also known as scapula abduction, which is movement of the scapula laterally away from the midline of the body, which you can think of as the spine in this case. It's opposite, scapular retraction, is also known as adduction, which is moving the scapula medially, toward the midline or spine. Although you can think of these movements as movements of the shoulder blades, technically they are shoulder girdle movements which involve three joints: The sternoclavicular (SC), acromioclavicular joint (AC), and the scapulothoracic joint. You can read more about the shoulder girdle and the shoulder complex in The Shoulder Complex: Demystifying the Shoulder.

You can perform the traditional push up plus and add a scapular protraction at the end of the ascent of each rep, or you can assume a push up or "plank" position and only perform the scapular protraction and retraction. It would be ideal to use both at some point in your training.


Scapular, Shoulder, Shoulder Girdle


1. Assume a plank or push up position.

2. Keep your arms straight and allow your scapulae to retract (move toward your spine) so that your torso lowers an inch or so toward the floor.

3. Keep your arms locked and protract your scapulae so that they move laterally along your ribcage, away from your spine. Your torso should rise back up an inch or so and your upper back should assume a sort of hunch-back shape.

4. Hold for a second or two.

5. Repeat for 8 to 12 repetitions.

Remember, if you wish you can also add the scapular protraction into regular pushups.

Scapular Push-Up Plus Video Demonstration


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