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Scapula Pull Ups: The Exercise To Boost Your Pull Ups

Scapular pull-ups, also known as scapulas pulls, are an isolation exercise focussing on activating the scapula.

The scapula more commonly called the shoulder blade. The health and mobility of the scapula and muscles controlling the scapula are often overlooked even though they a crucial to almost all upper body movements.

What Muscles are worked in the Scapula Pull-ups?

Scapula Pullups work the lats, trapezius, rhomboids, and serratus anterior muscles.

How to Do Scapula Pull-ups

  1. Start in a dead hang position
  2. Squeeze your shoulder blades back and together and slightly lift your chest slightly upwards.
  3. Hold the top position for 1-2 seconds before you lower back to the dead hang

How to make Scapula Pull-ups Easier

If you are just starting out and scapula pull-ups are too challenging here are 3 methods to make it easier.

1) Australian Scapula Pullups

Find a low bar around chest height and perform the scapula pullups while your feet are on the ground.

1) Partner/Machine Assisted Scapula Pullups

Find a partner to hold one of your knees while you perform the movement.

Alternatively, if you have access to a machine use it for assitance instead.  

1) Band Assisted Scapula Pullups

Wrap a low to medium strength resistance band to the bar.

Then grab onto the bar with your hands and place your foot or knee onto the loop.

Perform the movement as you would have without the band.

How to make Scapula Pull-ups more Challenging

Scapula Pull-ups are relatively easy to perform than regular pull-ups, and the 10-15 rep range that we recommend may not be enough.

Here are 3 methods to make the movement more challenging!

1) Paused Scapula Pullups

The Scapula pullups involved scapula depression and scapula retraction. Although they are usually performed simeautaneously, they can be performed in isolation with a short pause between each movement.

Pausing will ensure you are not using momentum to perform either scapula movements.Pause between scapula depression and scapula retraction.

1) Start with Deadhang

2) Depress Scapula first,

3) Pause

4) Then retract scapula

5) Pause

6) Back to Deadhang

2) Weighted Scapula Pullups

If bodyweight is too easy, try adding weight with a dip belt or a weight vest.

3) One arm Scapula Pullups

If you don't have weights, another option is to work on one scapula at a time, however this will mean you will have to lift double the amount.

If that is to much you can consider performing assisted one arm scapula pullups. Swing a strap, rope or a towel around the bar and hold it with your assisting hand. Use the assistance as much as needed.

About the Author

Remy started calisthenics in 2014 and has mastered advanced movements such as the one arm pull-up, front-lever, one arm muscle-up and more.