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How to Do the Scapular Pull Up (Step-by-Step)

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

The scapular pull-up is a fundamental training exercise. In this exercise guide, I'll show you how to do the scapular pull up properly.

Training the scapular and its surrounding muscles is essential for proper shoulder muscle strength and size.

Regular training of the surrounding scapular muscles will help improve the strength of many different muscles.

Furthermore, performing this exercise has many benefits ranging from increasing strength of the shoulders and back, to bodybuilding and even a better ability to climb.

It is a great all-round exercise to add to your workouts.

What Muscles Does This Exercise Work?

Performing the scapular pull up works a variety of back and shoulder muscles.

There are two sections of muscles in and around the scapular, the superficial and deep muscles.

scapular pull up muscles worked

The scapular pull up works the following muscles:

  • Levator scapulae

  • Rhomboid major

  • Rhomboid minor

  • Trapezius

  • Infraspinatus

  • Deltoid

  • Teres minor

  • Latissimus dorsi

Other assistance muscles are also worked such as the abdominals, triceps, biceps and other minor underlying muscles.

Step by Step Instructions

  1. Begin by gripping your rack bar or pull-up bar with a pronated grip.

  2. You need to lift yourself up a few inches from a dangling posture without moving your arms. To do this, depress your shoulder girdle in a reverse shrugging action, depressing your shoulder blades and lifting your body up.

  3. Hold this posture for as long as you'd like (I suggest between 3 and 10 seconds), then gently return to the dangling position with your arms at your sides.

  4. Repeat for your desired number of reps.

Using a rep timing of slow controlled reps is the best way to perform this exercise.

You can also make this exercise harder by wearing a weight vest.

Additional Tips

Including an isometric hold at the peak of this exercise where muscle tension is highest could promote muscle growth even further.

Perform between 6 and 12 repetitions, this is likely the optimal number of repetitions.

You may find that transitioning from a generic pull up to the scapular pull up is more effective.

Sets of 2-3 with around 3-5 minutes rest between sets is optimal.

Doing the scapular pull up is great for enhancing overall body strength.

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