T Nation

Chin-ups with scapular retraction

In a follow-up to my previous post on power cleans, what does everyone think of doing chin-ups with the shoulder blades pulled back together tightly during the entire lift? If no horizontal pulling movements are being used (inc. deadlifts, cleans, etc) will chin-ups with scapular retraction be enough to utilize the rhomboids/lower traps to avoid upper body postural problems?

It is a very good exercise. I recommend scapular retraction in all the back exercises I prescribe. Even if loading is minimal the postural effort is there so the muscles can be strenghtened in he retracted position and the CNS will come to accept thesemi-retracted position as “normal”, which will improve unvoluntary posture.

I agree. When the load goes up, I don’t think it is too good of an idea to let the little guys of the back be exposed to that. If their role is to stabalize, I am not so sure that full range motion makes it in the risk reward analysis. protract/retract moves could be a good finisher with a lesser weight. Have you postural problems?

David, Chinups can be done that way. They are very challenging in this manner. But why don’t you do them both ways? In order to go through the fullest ROM you have to allow the scapula to abduct at the bottom position. In your power clean post a while back you mentioned that you thought you had a scapula stabilization problem. Do you? Attempt high pulley vertical pulling first in the “tight scapula” position first to see if you are performing the exercise properly and both scapula are functioning, moving, stabilizing equally. This may be all that you need to improve postural problems. If your shoulder joints are healthy you can even perform the pulldowns to behind the neck. This is a great exercise for the lower trapezius. I’ll explain how to if interested. I’ll let
The Society Against Behind The Neck Exercises
attack me now.

How much weaker will I be in the retracted position? I normally do sets of 6 reps with a 20kg plate attached (for a total weight of just over 100kg).


Jay sorry, I didn’t quite understand your post. Are you saying that the rhomboids/lower traps should not be exposed to too much weight? (if so, I disagree - look at their role in deadlifts). I have no postural problems at present, but I want to minimise the amount of volume in training and the only pulling movements consist of weighted chins and (poorly executed) hang cleans (only about 70 kg for reps at the moment).