Scapular Retraction and the Deadlift


This is a hot topic right now at BucksFit. With the new baseball players getting settled in for the off-season, we’re constantly coaching the guys to keep their scapular retraction going as they pull from the floor. Let’s dive into this topic and, hopefully, you’ll have a better understanding on how to keep your shoulder blades packed when you perform any deadlift variation.

Number 1: What is scapular retraction? Simply put, scapular retraction is taking your shoulder blades and pulling them back to your midline (spine). We’ll either start off with some scapular retraction/protraction sets (2 x 8) or add that same set in with active rest while the athlete is performing a deadlift. Why, might you ask? Well, if the shoulder blades are not properly retracted, you will get rounding of the upper back. Rounding of the upper back in a deadlift will leave you feeling jacked up and not in the good sense (see video).

See what I’m talking about? I’m pretty sure his spine made it to a complete 90 degree angle…Wheeeeeeew, my back hurts just watching! Below is an example of the proper way to retract those scaps. Now, I will say this is not a perfect deadlift, but it’s pretty damn good, and it was AJ’s first day back in the gym, so without further ado…

Notice the difference in the upper back of both lifters in the videos. Video one was rounded, leaving the lower back no protection. In video two, AJ was able to keep his upper back firm, core tight, and produce the desired result of the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps doing a majority of the work.

If you’re going to deadlift, pay attention to those scaps! It’s one of the most faulty areas I see on a daily basis and if you’re not able to retract your scaps, you shouldn’t be deadlifting. Thanks for stopping by, I’ll see you soon!

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