3-Way Scap Circles (Scapular Muscle Activation & Mobility Exercises)

3-Way Scap Circles (Scapular Muscle Activation & Mobility Exercises)

many people suffer from poor scapular
muscle activation and mobility in this video you’re going to learn a common
mistake people make when working the scapular muscles and a simple drill to
get all of your scapular muscles fired up and working through their full range
of motion yo what’s up Coach E here from Precision Movement and today I’ve got an
awesome drill to get all of your scapular muscles fired up activated and
working through their full range of motion but before we get to that I just
want to know do you have any specific issues with your scapula or scapular
muscles and if you do just leave a comment down below and let me know what
it is and I’ll look through that and see if there’s some topics that I should do
a future video on ok so leave your comment down below now let’s get into
the drill the drill that I got for you today is called 3-ways scap circles
and you may have seen scap circles before or taught scap circles before but often
they’re taught in a very lazy way it’s basically just move your scapula around
move your shoulders around in circles and there’s your scab circle there’s
some subtle technical cues that are super important that when you do them
will activate the muscles properly fully activate all of the scapular muscles and
get you working through the full range of scapular movement okay so those two
cues are keep the elbows locked out so get some tricep activation there and
before you even do the second point I want you to try that so lock the elbows
out make sure they don’t bend at all and just work yourself through the full
range of scapular motion and what you’ll notice is there’s some areas where you
feel like you’ve never been before especially in elevation and protraction
okay so that’s super important lock out the elbows throughout and even
overemphasize that a little bit okay that’ll make sure that you’re isolating
the scapula and getting those scapular muscles
if the other queue is to make sure that the spine is staying in neutral so
especially when you’re going into protraction the tendency is to go to
forward head flexion of the thoracic and even lumbar spine like that if you find
you’re doing that then when you go into protraction think of actively pulling
your chin in tucking your chin giving yourself a double chin
so elevate protract tuck that chin in get long through the spine and that’s
gonna isolate or stabilize the spine and isolate the movement to you the scapula
okay so those are the two important technical cues to remember when you’re
doing the movement throughout the movement to do the movement what you’ve
got a picture is make sure your picture a circle and when you’re working in that
circle you’re trying to dig the circle out so that you’re stuck in the middle
of the circle and you’re trying to dig yourself out and the circles getting
bigger and bigger in each direction whenever you’re moving there’s two force
vectors one is the isometric force vector so when I’m in retraction I’m
still trying to retract even though I’m at the end range of motion I’m not going
anywhere but I’m still activating those muscles and then there’s the movement
vector which is elevation so I’m trying to retract not going anymore
there’s no more retraction but I’m elevating now I’m at full elevation I
protract and I keep trying to elevate even though I’m not going anywhere as
I’m moving in a protraction now depression protract and protracting
as the scapula is moving into depression and then once I’m at max depression I
keep trying to depress the scapula as I retract so there’s always two movements
there’s the isometric force and then there’s the dynamic movement force
vector remember that as you’re going through that circular always trying to
expand that circle from the inside out okay so the drill we’ve gone through it
already basically but it’s in each direction you’re gonna go
through the full range scap circles going nice and slow really
experiencing that range of motion especially the ranges where you’re
uncomfortable and unfamiliar with and you do three reps three circles in one
direction that was too but let’s say it’s three and then three circles in the
other direction keeping the elbows locked out and the spine tall and in
neutral you might hear some crunching and
clunking that’s totally okay as long as there’s no acute pain no radiating pain
no tingling no sharp pain okay so that’s your standard scap circle just standing
open chain movement that’s what you want to focus and work on until you feel like
you’ve got the full range or working through the full range and you’re able
to isolate the scapula keep the elbows locked out keep the spine in neutral
once you’ve done that let’s add the other two ways to make this 3-way
the first way is the hinge so you’re gonna hinge like a deadlift or a stiff
leg deadlift keeping the spine neutral and just letting the arms hang here
because the arms are dropped and I’m fighting gravity here it’s going to put
more of the focus on the retractors so the rhomboids middle traps lower
traps those muscles so here the same thing retract now I elevate and I’m
still keen to try to retract and then I elevate and protract and then hasn’t
protracted I depress and you’ll find it feels a little bit different because of
now gravity is acting on the scapula in a different way so again three circles
in one direction three circles in the other direction
keeping spine in neutral and elbows locked out
after that go down to the floor and you could start off in the four-point
position it’s a four-point year now I’m pushing
my body away from the floor we’re focusing more on the protractors
so you’re targeting the serratus anterior and the pecs a little bit more
then same thing elbows locked out retract elevate protract depress retract
full range pull yourself right through elevate protract depress and then switch
directions you can think of two force vectors being expanding that circle
digging it out keeping the elbows locked and the spine in neutral so there you
have three waist gap circles really simple drill but applying those
technical cues makes it difficult as you’ll see once you try this drill I
like to use it as part of a warm-up and even when I’m just sitting there in line
waiting for the teller to check out everybody in front of me in the grocery
store it’s something that you can do and you don’t look too crazy you look a
little bit crazy especially when you get up in here but that’s fine crazy is good
different is good okay so it’s something that you could do all the time different
positions activate those muscles but definitely use it in your warm up
because the scapula is the key to shoulder stability if your scapular
muscles aren’t activated aren’t working properly then your shoulders aren’t
going to be stable and you’re gonna run into shoulder issues like I mentioned
before impingement rotator cuff tendonitis and nasty things like that
okay so make sure you do that three reps in each direction so forward backwards
in all three positions do one set of that and your scapular muscles are going
to be fully activated and ready for you before your workout
okay so hopefully that is a drill that if you’ve seen it before you’ve got you
see it within a new way and it feels new and different and more beneficial for
you if you’ve never done it start doing it like I showed you here and you’re
gonna really benefit okay and I have a program that is really all
focused on the scapula getting it moving properly and building up its strength so
that it provides your shoulder with the stability it needs to lift heavy weights
overhead throw things superfast punch people really hard whatever it is you do
with your shoulders the scap strength program will help support you and your
goals there so you can check that out at the link at the end of this video and in
the description down below otherwise thanks for watching and tuning in and
I’ll see you next time peace


  • Richard Coleman says:

    @ 9:30, Golf, shot for the videos.. South africa

  • Andre Yeu says:

    Thanks Coach E, love your videos and also have bought a number of your courses over the years, all of which have helped me and others tremendously.

  • Polad Alamdar says:

    I visited a physiotherapist a while ago. After examining; he told me that I had what's called a depressed scapula. I did not understand what he meant, nor did I ask him to elaborate. Could you please make a video on fixing depressed scapula?

  • Jude Sullivan says:

    Awesome – love the change in body orientation to change the stimulus.

  • Joann Wheeler says:

    Another great video. Thank you.👍

  • mzek says:

    Video on winged scapula

  • Exo Thermic says:

    You have videos on dealing with AC joint pain but what about those that have permanent seperation in the AC? Would this help with that or be safe to do with an slight AC seperation? I'm trying to figure out how to get back to overhead activities like hanging/climbing/chinning but I have this AC issue combined with poor serratus function. I'm trying to figure out what to focus on and what I should and shouldn't do in the process.

  • jgoodyer says:

    You are from Toronto, aren't you? I was just diagnosed with Bertolotti's syndrome. Is there anything general you can recommend for strengthening?

  • Wendy Hartland says:

    Scapula winging please. Nothing I’ve tried so far has helped.

  • Jody Ash says:

    Any recommendations on shoulder tendonitis? Thanks.

  • nouf alosaimi says:

    Thank you 🙏🏼🌷

  • Dario Rox says:

    on one side my scapular muscles just dont work due to innervation problems, that really sucks, but I gently train anyway

  • Robert Semenoff says:

    Would be interested in exercises to immunize the subscapula – this one has given me problems twice over the last couple of years. I can’t think of what would be causing strain there, but i guess its general neglect .

  • Chinnanas Mansoor says:

    The most useful fitness channel on YouTube great fan of coach E❤️

  • J D says:

    I have mild scoliosis in thoracic part of spine, due to my bad right hip which made my right leg half an inch shorter than left leg. I wear orthotic on my right shoe for decades but would like to know are there any exercises to improve my condition. Thanks

  • BobbyG says:

    Great video – been doing these shrugs for years…I guess ineffectively haha — do you suggest sucking in abs/core?

  • keto بالعربي says:

    yes when my shoulder dislcote i feel i lost control of it

  • Alisha L says:

    This guy is legit people. I got rid my neck pain by following Eric and his various activation exercises.

  • FrankA1948 says:

    Hey Eric! Would this help with winged scapula?

  • Paul Malone says:

    Guess this will help with upper cross syndrome ?

  • James Walker says:

    freakin brilliant man

  • Claudia Ramirez says:

    About 6 weeks ago I was benching heavy and felt a little sting in my right rhomboid. Didn’t think too much of it but later that day and for several weeks I have felt like my medical shoulder blade muscle wants to cramp up. Been doing some lacrosse ball work on it and it’s feeling better. It was worse in the morning. Couldn’t bend over to put on my shoes without feeling like it was going to cramp up. Within an hour of working with personal training clients my shoulder felt fine. Also have had a significant drop in horizontal pressing strength and vertical pulling strength. I’m baffled by this weakness. PT tells me my right shoulder blade is a little lower than my left and massage therapist tells me my left blade is a little stuck to my rib cage. Any ideas?

  • C.J says:

    👍as always

  • Vinni Jones says:

    Could you please make a video about hip-impingement?

  • Mieke Kuppen says:

    Feels great, thanks.

  • Diane Wiese says:

    Hi Eric! Thanks so much for the video, I’ve been struggling with one sided back pain for a year now and not sure what exercises to do. When I tried the movements you showed – I experienced pain in my rhomboids with retraction – I am assuming this is good coz it means it is being exercised – are there any other exercises for the rhomboids and erector spinae?
    Thanks in advance

  • Sharon Fuller says:

    Diagnosis: Scapular dysfunction; occipital neuralgia.

  • Keanu Barrage says:

    Hey Coach,

    I got into a car accident a few years ago and suffered whiplash. I also sustained damage to my facet joints in my left cervical region.

    The injury has gotten worse and I now have scapular winging on my left side and extreme tightness in my neck, mostly on the right side.

    Currently I'm working on thoracic mobility, fixing my hips, and fixing my flat feet.

  • Luis Crespo says:

    Eric, I've had a problem for 5 years. The outward manifestation is that when I externally rotate my left forearm the scapula engages sooner than it should, almost as if the shoulder girdle would freeze up, forcing the scapula to retract along with the arm external rotation. Would be greatly appreciated if you posted a video addressing this issue. Thanks a mil!!!

  • sukhmanicambridge says:


  • LetitGo lazziter says:

    Freggin outstanding!!

  • corwyn says:

    Very interesting ! I've also seen doing this exercise alternating one side after the other. What would be the advantages of doing that over both sides at the same time ?

  • Vicky Polinsky says:

    Hello Eric
    My daughter is a softball pitcher and is hyper-mobil in the scapula. This is causing pain in the front of her shoulder. Will this help or is there something else she should be doing to strengthen the area.

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