Correctly place your scapula for rows

We find that the scapula is a little bit of a mystery to many people. After all, it’s a highly mobile bone with 6 separate movements and it’s hard to know exactly where it is or where it should be.
Here are the movements of the scapula and common motions to help you understand when each of them is in play.

  1. Elevation – lifting your shoulders up toward your ears
  2. Depression – pushing your shoulders away from your ears
  3. Upward Rotation – lifting your arms out to the side and overhead
  4. Downward Rotation – lowering your arms back down by your sides
  5. Protraction (Abduction) – reaching your arms way out in front of you, scapulas separate from each other
  6. Retraction (Adduction) – pulling your shoulders back, pinching your scapulas together
  7. Neutral – not a movement, but consider it a home base for the scapula that would be a safe bet in most situations
  8. Winging or lifted scapula – again, not a movement but common scapula placement for those who lack strength in the muscles that pull the scapula snug against the ribcage. You’ll see that the medial border or lowest point of the scapula lifts away from the ribcage.

It is possible and perfectly awesome to move between protraction and neutral while doing rows. In fact, we coach many clients through this to strengthen the smaller, and often underutilized, stabilizing muscles within the shoulder joint before the larger lat and other muscles take over. However, for the purpose of this video, we’ll show you how to get into neutral scapula and avoid common mistakes to ensure you’re in a safe position to do rows. After all, we don’t want to just strength train, we want to strength train effectively.

Want to know if your scapular placement is correct for rows or any other shoulder or arm exercise? Schedule your free 90 minute consultation.
Addie Kelzer is a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. She believes that by making fitness and good food practical, her clients will hold the power to positively change their health and the health of those closest to them.