Scapular retraction is really important to be able to master the pull up. This is really just fancy talk for ‘squeezing your shoulder blades together’.
Most people try to pull up with just their arms and then they internally rotate the shoulders to get no where on their pull up. By learning to do a scapular retraction, you’ll learn to pull with the stronger muscles of the back.
To do this, hang from the bar with straight arms. Think about lifting the chest UNDER the bar instead of getting the chin OVER the bar. Look up and squeeze the shoulder blades together. You should notice that you’re able to lift yourself up a few inches. Remember to start all pull up reps this way, even warm up on the bar by doing a few reps of scapular retraction.
I explain and demonstrate in this video:
Here’s the workout from the video:
- Do a warm up and then do a few scapular retractions to get those back muscles warm.
- Do 10 assisted pull ups – You can do band pull ups, jump pull ups, step up pull ups. Just remember to do a slow hang every time you get your chest to the bar to work the negative or eccentric portion of the movement.
- Do 10 DB rows per arm – Use as heavy dumb bell as you can. Start with your weak arm.
- Repeat this three times.
- Finish with hanging leg raises. Do 10 leg raises, ensuring you rock at the hip instead of just bringing the knees to parallel, rest up to 30 seconds and repeat.
For more pull up tips and a progressive workout plan, head HERE.
Good luck with those pull ups!