Knowing how to perform different workouts is great, but understanding the muscles being used will help you develop a more holistic workout routine that you won’t get sick of. It’ll let you throw in some variations and challenge yourself in new ways.
One of the most important muscles to activate for a broader and bulkier appearance is the shoulder, but the muscles and bones in this area are more complex than you may think. Scapular exercises focus on improving strength and stability in your shoulder joints while also toning and broadening your upper body.
Let’s look at why scaption exercises are essential before we walk through some of the best exercises to strengthen this area.
What is the Scapula?
No, it’s not a tool for flipping burgers. Your scapula is the bone that connects the humerus (upper arm) with your clavicle (the collar bone). You probably call it your shoulder bone or shoulder blade.
It engages in six types of motion: protraction, elevation, depression, upward rotation, and downward rotation. Each one of these motions requires the use of a complex system of muscles that surround the scapula.
These muscles include your deltoids, which cover your shoulder, and the trapezius, which sits between the shoulders and neck. However, your rotator cuff, rhomboids, and serratus anterior are also pretty involved here.
Alterations in these muscles can make it difficult for you to perform functions that have to do with reaching overhead. That’s why it’s so important to engage in exercises that toughen up these muscles so that injury doesn’t occur.
What is Scaption Exercising?
Scaption exercises are ones that essentially work the muscles listed above. It’s the action of lifting your arms from your sides and bringing them forward around 30 to 45 degrees. Sometimes, it’s referred to as scapular plane elevation.
Why is Scaption Exercising So Important?
Strength conditioning, in addition to a balanced diet, is an essential way to keep yourself looking fit. But scaption has specific benefits that make it necessary for your next total body workout.
Build Strength and Improve Mobility
Building strength in your scapular muscles will help improve your physical appearance by giving you more buff shoulders and a toned upper back. It also helps strengthen your rotator cuff, which improves shoulder stability. Scaption exercises might make you more flexible and prevent muscle stiffness while you perform other workouts.
While looking good is always desirable, the best thing about strength training is that it keeps you safe. Building up muscles around your scapula can help prevent strains and broken bones in the surrounding area.
Also, having a strong scapula can improve your posture and help you determine if your shoulder blades are working properly. If you can’t complete these exercises, it may be a sign that something is wrong.
Enhances Overhead Movements
Ever wanted to scale the side of a cliff? Scaption exercises can help you become more equipped to handle overhead movements such as climbing. However, it can also help you throw things further, which can be useful if you’re an athlete.
Scaption Action: Best Shoulder Exercises
Now that you’ve got the lowdown on all things scapulas, it’s time to put yours to the test. Whip out some dumbbells and throw some bands on your Gorilla Bow and build your upper body strength with these scaption workouts.
Exercise scientists and fitness aficionados sometimes call lateral raises “scaption raises” because they are so good for targeting your anterior and posterior deltoids. There are also so many different variations, so you’ll never get tired of finding new ways to do them.
To start, here’s how to do a standing lateral raise:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Dumbbells should be down at your sides.
- Lift your arms up so that they are parallel to the ground, elbows slightly bent.
- Slowly lower your arms back to the starting position. Repeat.
- For an added challenge: Get out your Gorilla Bow and detach the resistance band. Wrap both ends around each hand and hold them straight out in front of you, chest level. Pull your arms to the sides so that you make a T-shape with your body, allowing the band to touch your chest. Be sure to squeeze your shoulder blades to really activate the traps.
You can also do lateral raises on a flat or incline bench to focus more on the chest while still working the deltoids. Additionally, you can take this to a reverse fly by hinging your hips and keeping your body at a 45-degree angle. This activates your back while also giving some love to your glutes.
This is an exercise that doesn’t require much movement, but it’s sure to get your shoulder muscles feeling that healthy burn. You’ll want a dumbbell, hand weight, medicine ball, or sack of potatoes for this one.
- Feet shoulder-width apart. Hang your arms down in front of you, so the weight is near your hips.
- Without bending your arms, lift the weight out in front and up to shoulder level. Really engage your shoulders, drawing them back and away from your ears.
- Slowly lower the weight back to your starting position.
- For an added challenge: For the best results, use your Gorilla Bow for the ultamine front raise.
Front raises give a lot of attention to your deltoid muscles, which is perfect for protecting that scapula. You can also incorporate some leg movements into this exercise by dropping to a squat after you bring the weight down to starting position.
While the chest press naturally focuses on your chest, this workout also does some work on your scapular muscles, particularly your deltoids and serratus anterior, which is below your armpits.
This is another workout that has a good number of variations. Let’s look at a standing chest press first:
- Feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold a medicine ball in the center of your chest. If you’re using the Gorilla Bow, place the bands right below your shoulder blades and hold the bar at your chest.
- Push straight forward until your elbows are almost locked.
- Slowly return to starting position, keeping the weight at chest level.
- For an added challenge: Bend your knees even more and take it down to a squat while you perform the chest press.
You can also do chest presses while seated on an incline bench. This helps work your biceps and latissimus dorsi to a more significant degree than the standing option.
Bent Over Row
Rows are one of the best total body workouts because they target your back, core, arms, and your legs. But you don’t need a row machine or a kayak to do some work on your scapular muscles. All you need are some dumbbells or a Gorilla Bow:
- Feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and push your hips back, sort of like a high squat. Keep your back straight at a 45-degree angle with the floor. Stand on the resistance bands if you’re using the bow.
- Hold the weight down at your thighs. Pull up towards your abdomen, squeezing your shoulder blades and engaging your core each time.
- Slowly return to starting position.
- For an added challenge: Feel free to increase your weight or add some extra resistance. Just be sure that you’re always keeping proper form, decreasing the weight if need be.
With the Gorilla Bow, you can also take this to a seated row by putting the resistance bands under your feet while you sit on the ground. Make sure the bands are secure by using a band strap to hold them together.
The Cool Down
Your scapula is the bone that connects your upper arm to your collarbone. It’s better known as the shoulder blade, and strengthening the muscles in this area is essential for preventing injury and increasing mobility.
The muscles that scaption exercises work with your deltoids, traps, serratus anterior, and rhomboids. However, most shoulder exercises that work your scapular muscles incorporate other ones like the chest and triceps.
Some of these workouts include lateral raises and front raises, chest presses, or bent-over rows. Most of these can be done with dumbbells or medicine balls, but you can take them up a notch with the flexible Gorilla Bow.
To learn even more exercises that improve your scapula and beyond, join Gorilla Bow’s All-Access Membership program, where you can have access to our full library of classes as well as unlimited live sessions at your disposal. It’s like having your very own team of strength and conditioning coaches on-call anytime and anywhere.
Anatomy, Back, Scapula | NCBI Bookshelf
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