Scapular Pull Ups – Rotator Cuff & Grip Training

Movement: Scapular Pull Ups

Range of Motion: Relaxed bottom of a pull up position (hanging from a bar), “shrugging” up with arms straight to a position with the shoulder blades retracted (pulled down and back).  Bottom is “passive” hang position, top is “active”.

Equipment: Bar, rings, or any other kind of improvised pull up bar

Rep/Time Methodic: Perform on a tempo, counting for a 1- or 2-count on the way up, pausing for 1-2 seconds, lowering for a 1- or 2-count. Sets of 20 repetitions or 1 min continuous, up to 100-300 repetitions over 3-5 minutes or broken up into smaller sets.

Coaching Cues: Pull up with arms straight, as if “shrugging” up; Keep core braced, and only use shoulders to pull up (don’t use momentum); Control both the raise and descent;

Warnings: Never go to joint pain! If history of previous shoulder injury/current injury, especially in the glenohumeral joint or labrum tears, this movement could initially cause a lot of irritation and even further damage, so everything around the shoulder has to be stronger and moving properly before progressing here (try movements with straight knee first, such as Standing Single Leg Raise Holds or Single Leg Calf Raise Holds for time).  Seek a medical opinion before starting any sort of movement plan.

Benefits: Basic strength foundation; Overhead strength endurance; Shoulder/grip strength

How I Use This in Programs: 3x/week for 30 seconds of 3 sets during Movement Prep of Beginner Foundation A

Progressions: Can start with a supported version, with feet on ground/raised box and gradually keeping less and less weight on the floor; Can progress to adding weight on waist or between feet, One-Arm Scapular Pull Up Holds, more complex/advanced hanging abdominal work

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