Scapular Pull Ups: How To Do, Muscles Worked & Benefits

Scapular pull ups, or Scapula pull ups are one of the best exercises for strengthening the upper back muscles and improving shoulder strength and mobility.

Incorporating retract scapular pull up into your exercise routine can help to build additional strength, muscle mass and improve weak areas in your shoulders and upper back.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about how to perform the scapular pull up correctly. You will also learn its benefits, how to avoid common mistakes, and what are the best variation of scapular retraction pull ups and how to do them.

What Are Scapular Pull-Ups?

Scapular pull-ups, also known as scapula pull-ups, are an upper-body workout that uses a smaller range of motion than a regular pull-up to activate your shoulders and back muscles.

When performed correctly, scap pull-ups can lead to increased upper-body strength and improve the range of motion that your shoulders can do.

A scapular pull-up also helps you keep better shoulder positioning when climbing a ladder or performing conventional pull-ups.

The main difference between pull ups and scapular pull-ups is that conventional pull ups use your arms to pull you up. On the other hand, scap pull-ups work your back and use your arms isometrically and do little range of motion.

Understanding how you recruit the shoulders may help you to figure out how to recruit the specific muscles required to perform the scapular pull-up

Benefits Of Scapular Pull Ups

The Scapula pull ups exercises are a good choice for training: Benefits of regularly performing scapular retract pull ups include:

  • The scapular pull is a great exercise for strengthening scapular depression, which is important for shoulder health and stability.
  • The scap pull ups calls on strength in the serratus anterior, helping to keep your shoulders working with both power and full range of motion.
  • Pulling the scapula downward and against the rib cage, which helps to keep the scapula stable. Scapular depression also prevents the shoulder blades from being rounded over and pulled forward.
  • They can help you improve your balance, coordination, stability and flexibility, it is an excellent choice if you want to get better at any sport or form of exercise.
  • You don’t need any special equipment to practice the scapula workout. All you require is the right technique and some willpower.

Scapular Pull Ups Muscles Worked

The muscles involved in Scapula pull ups are:

  • Primarily muscles Worked:  Serratus Anterior, Lats
  • Secondary muscles Worked:  Chest, TrapeziusRhomboids, levator Scapulae, Core muscles and Triceps.
scapular pull ups muscles worked

How To Do Scapular Retraction Pull Ups

Choose your sets and repetitions based on how many you can do without losing good technique. Or you can begin with 2–3 sets of 6-12 reps.

  1. Start with your normal pull-up position. When you do the exercise for the first time, hold your hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. While you are hanging from the bar, keep your abs and glutes tight to stay still and not swing back and forth.
  3. Take a breath and initiate the scapular pull-up by bringing your shoulders back and down. Keep your arms straight.
  4. From a full hang, with just slightly shrugged shoulders, you want to draw the scapula down and together, thus raising your body slightly but without bending your arms and pulling as in a regular pull-up. 
  5. Hold the retracted position for a second or two, making sure to feel your back muscles working.
  6. Then return to the starting position. The range of motion is only a few inches.
  7. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions.

Make It Easier Or Harder (Regression & Progression)

You can make pull-ups for the scapula simpler by doing assisted Pullups. This beginner version is easy to do because you aren’t lifting a large percentage of your body weight, and it doesn’t require a large amount of flexibility.   

To make Scapula retraction pull ups harder, you can increase the number of sets and the number of times you do them. To do weight Pull ups to make this exercise more difficult.

1. Assisted scapular pull-up

Start with an assisted pull-up if you’re new to the exercise. To do an assisted scapular pull-up, put a resistance band around the pull-up bar and put a foot in the other end of the resistance band. Then, do the exercise.

2. Weighted scapular pull-up:

Scapular weighted pull-ups are a more advanced variation. Weighted pull-ups are strength-training exercises in which you wear weights while doing a pull-up.

If you’re an advanced climber, with strong shoulders and pulling muscles, then the scapular Pull-up with weight is for you.

Weighted scapular pull-ups can be performed using resistance bands, dumbbells, or a dip belt with barbell plates if you don’t have access to a weight belt.

Scapular Pull Ups Proper Form And Mistakes

Proper exercise technique is essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of an exercise program.

  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Keeping your back in a straight line and without bending your elbows.
  • Keep your chest tall and your shoulder blades pulled back throughout the exercise.
  • You have to account for the training volume and avoid doing more than a few sets of scapular pull-ups at a time.
  • Ensure you maintain some tension in your abs and don’t allow your lower back to excessive arch.
  • To see continual progress and build body strength, incorporate proper warm-ups, rest, and nutrition into your exercise program.
  • Ultimately, your results will depend on your ability to adequately recover from your workouts. It is recommended that you allow at least 36 to 48 hours of rest before training the same muscle groups again, in order to allow for sufficient recovery.

Best Alternative Of Scapula Pull Ups

Before we deep dive into the best scapula pull ups alternatives. We must remember, a good scap pull up will be able to satisfy the following criteria:

1. Activate the shoulder muscle groups which are trained in the retraction pull ups.

2. Isolate the muscle groups during execution

3. Train the shoulder muscle through a longer range of motion

Scapula Push Up

The scapula push up is known for being an advanced variation of the traditional push-up. It is also often recommended for individuals looking to improve their shoulder mobility, as well as their core strength and stability.

Scapular Push Ups

Scapular Dips

Scapular dip is the simple yet effective alternate of scapular pull up that you can do at home. This is likely the best bodyweight exercise for a beginner at home.

Your scapula should also always stay active. No matter the exercise, you are actively moving the scapula in both directions—your scapula is never relaxed.

Scapula Dip Muscles Worked


Scapula pull ups exercise is one of the most classic ones for strengthening the muscles in the upper back and shoulders.

If you’re looking for a way to mix up your upper body workout, try this move. It’s a move that can help improve shoulder mobility, too.

The Scap Pull Up is a great way to build your upper body and keep your shoulders in a better position when you’re climbing a ladder or doing regular pull-ups.

People Also Ask

Do scapular pull-ups work lower traps?

It is so effective because it builds up the strength of the scapulars and also engages your lower traps and lats.

Leave a Comment