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Retracted Shoulder Blades for Pulling Exercises


So, I've always known to retract shoulder blades on the bench press and pressing in general.

But should they also be retracted for pulling movements (pullups, rows, pulldowns)? Curls? Shoulder raises? Can not having them retracted for these exercises cause problems?

I've been having some shoulder pain (rotator cuff?) for a little while and I talked to the PT. I learned something that after hearing made me feel stupid - that they need to be tucked for dips as well, not just stuff where your back is on a bench...

Made me wonder about other exercises because I know I don't think about them at all for non-pressing movements and in retrospect I think they could be contributing to the problem.


Dips are a pushing movement just like bench press and push ups.

For pulling movements you dont need them retracted at the bottom of the movement. But you should also not let the fall so fast that you lose control and the weight yanks against your joints. The stronger you get the more leeway you have while rowing. But in order to get a max strecth (which creates the biggest possible contraction) you need to release your shoulder blades during pulling.

Deadlifting is done with the scaps retracted until you are pulling enough weighg for that to be impossible.


Although in general you should try to maintain good posture while you exercise, no you do not need to purposefully retract your shoulder blades when you do curls, I mean come on man jesus christ.

Bodybuilding is not that complicated, I promise.

It is a good idea to keep the shoulder blades together when you bench press, and for some people during military presses, because it helps to stabilize the shoulder joint in a dangerous position. I would hope your shoulders aren't put in a dangerous position during curls, or lateral raises, or most back exercises for that matter and in fact I think it's crucial to stretch and spread the scapula apart on the negative of most back exercises.

Keep it simple.


Lol I wish I didn't have to think of these things, but I've been lifting < a year and have had issues with every joint but my ankles. I've had to question a lot of things and have come to expect that 'natural' for me is not necessarily right when it comes to form

But thanks for the responses, that pretty much clears it up. I'm pretty sure my shoulder got beat up from sloppy db presses and dips. The couple of times curling or pullups have irritated it is probably just because it was already very sensitive from being injured.


3g of fish oil per day should help a lot. It has plenty of other benefits too