Scapular Push-Ups

Woman's back in the fitness room.
A scapula pushup helps work the shoulder blades. (Image: hammett79/iStock/Getty Images)

The pushup is a classic strength-training move that can be performed without weights and instead uses your own body weight as leverage to build muscle. When performed correctly, pushups help strengthen the arms, legs and core muscles. Scapula pushups are a variation on the traditional push-up, where the hands are shoulder-width apart. This pushup type specifically builds the muscles surrounding the scapula, which also is known as the shoulder blade.

Starting Position

Scapula pushups are generally considered more difficult than traditional pushups. To perform, start in a plank position with your arms straight under your shoulders and your toes touching the ground. Your body should be in straight alignment, with your head looking toward the ground in line with your torso. Move your hands in to bring them slightly closer than shoulder-width apart. Your fingers should face forward. Move your feet in as well, until there is about six inches between them.

Working Motion

The scapula pushup requires only a small movement from the plank position. If necessary, drop from your feet to the knees to make the pushup slightly easier. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, which will lower your torso slightly. Do not, however, bend your arms. When you have brought your scapula together as much as possible, release the exercise and return to your starting position.

Benefits

Performing a scapula pushup targets the muscles that control your shoulder blades and help pull your arms backward. Strengthening these muscles helps to improve your posture as you pull your shoulders back and sit up straight. This exercise specifically trains a muscle known as the serratus anterior, which is a scapula muscle that is difficult to target via traditional training moves like a bent-over row. Stronger scapula muscles can help prevent injuries. This is particularly helpful if you play a sport that requires shoulder range of motion to be effective, such as tennis, golf or baseball.

Tips

When performing scapular pushups, don’t start with shrugged shoulders. Lifting your shoulders too high can cause pain in your scapula and does not target your muscles as effectively. If you are having trouble getting a feel for the motion, slow it down by counting to five as you pull your shoulder blades together and then counting to five to pull them apart. In the beginning, you may only be able to perform three repetitions. As you gain strength, work your way up to 15 per set.

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