Scapular Mechanics: Lesson 2 | D. Martin Fitness D. Martin Fitness Banner

Scapular Mechanics: Lesson 2

The last lesson on scapular mechanics was via a Facebook Live video where I discussed scapular mechanics during a horizontal rowing pattern. Here is a great example of both vertical AND horizontal rowing with the plate loaded high-row machine. This is by far one of my favorite pulling exercises because the seated position allows you to use leverage in a vertical and horizontal pulling pattern to target the latissimus dorsi, mid to lower traps, rhomboids,  and other assisting musculature.

What many do not realize about rowing-focused movements is that they help to pull the shoulder blades back on the rib cage into retraction and downward rotation, thus allowing for good posture, making the chest appear bigger, and aiding in keeping the shoulders healthy. I would even say MOST individuals should be doing more pulling than pushing and more rowing than chin-ups. This is a simplistic explanation but think of it this way: when the shoulders “roll forward” into the socket, the humeral head (upper arm) cannot move freely in its intended range of motion. Over time, this can lead to shoulder injuries and limit your potential to perform pressing, pushing, and reaching movements.

Individuals should more so focus on allowing the shoulder blades to “glide freely” across the rib cage as if reaching forward or upward for something. This is the eccentric phase (stretching phase) of any rowing movement and also where the most micro trauma is likely to occur for hypertrophy. The actual pulling phase is where the individual should focus on the shoulder blade retracting or pulling back and slightly downward. This is what good rowing mechanics is all about. Check out the Instagram video below for a lateral view demonstration:

I’m a let you finish but, the high-row machine is one of the best back machines of all time! Do you agree? Highly recommend getting more of these into your back day or pull-focused days to reap the benefits of both horizontal and vertical rowing patterns. HOWEVER, when I do see people performing this exercise, it looks half-assed. WHY? Lack of scapular control or awareness. In any rowing-specific movement, allow the scapula to fully protract and upwardly rotate (if vertically pulling) THEN focus on scapular retraction and downward rotation without bringing the elbows past the rib cage. The further the elbows pass the rib cage, the more “anterior glide” you get on the humoral head in the shoulder joint. This is not ideal for long-term shoulder health. Think about “REACHING” on the eccentric (stretching) phase of of any rowing exercise you perform. Now get that back on swole! #dmartinfitness #liftwithmeyouknowigotit #backday #backdayworkout #pullday #fitness #fitfam #gainz

A post shared by D. Martin MS CSCS CISSN (@dmartinfitness) on

The High Row machine is one of many pulling variations I like to implement into one of my structured hypertrophy or strength based mobile training programs. If you want a thick, muscular back, or healthy shoulders then you need to know how to row properly and with the appropriate training volume to make long-term gains. Let me put together a training program and nutrition strategy for you to take your fitness past your sticking point! You can click on the Contact form above or apply for training HERE.

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