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How to Strengthen Scapular Muscles

by Mike Samuels Google

About Mike Samuels

Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.

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The muscles around your scapular, specifically the rhomboid and trapezius muscles, are important yet often overlooked muscle groups. Training them improves your posture and strengthens the scapular area. Weak scapular muscles and tight chest muscles are often a cause of upper-crossed syndrome, or hunchback posture, which can lead to upper back pain. To strengthen your scapular muscles, follow a balanced exercise routine that targets your rhomboids and trapezius.

Step 1

Perform single-arm bent-over dumbbell rows first in your upper body workout. Hold a dumbbell in one hand with your palm facing inward, and place your other hand on a bench. Walk your feet back until your upper back is flat, then bring your abdominals in to support your back. Pull the dumbbell up until it lightly touches your outer chest, keeping your elbow straight behind you. Pause briefly in the top position, then lower it again. Keep your head looking just in front of you the whole time. Perform four sets of eight repetitions and switch arms.

Step 2

Move on to face pulls as your second exercise. Attach a rope handle to a cable station set at head height. Grasp both ends of the handle with your arms straight and brace your abdominals. Pull the handle toward you by flexing your arms and squeezing your shoulder blades together as hard as you can until your hands are in line with your ears. Pause for one second, then slowly straighten your arms. Aim for three sets of 12 reps. Face pulls promote correct upward scapular rotation and external shoulder rotation, both of which are vital for maintaining good posture.

Step 3

Finish your workout with prone I, Y, T, W, O formations. Lie face down on a mat. Raise your arms up in front of you while keeping your elbows straight, until they are parallel to the ground, forming the letter "I." Move your arms outward to form the letter "Y," then straight out for the letter "T." Bend your elbows to form the letter "W," then complete the series by bringing your hands together at touch your fingertips and form the letter "O." Repeat the series four times.

Step 4

In between your workouts, do four sets of 10 scapular wall slides every day. Weakness in the muscles around your scapular may be caused by poor scapular stability, which wall slides can correct. Stand against a wall with your heels, buttocks and upper back touching it. Hold your arms up so that your elbows are at 90 degrees and level with your shoulders. Slide your hands up the wall as high as you can, aiming to keep your elbows and wrists in contact with the wall at all times. As you progress, you should be able to increase your range of motion, which can aid in strengthening the scapular muscles.

Photo Credits:

  • Edgardo Contreras/Photodisc/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.