Scapular Stability 101: A Simple Warm-Up Progression for the Upper Body

By Jesse Kepka
NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist


I’m a warm-up girl, all the way. I would even go as far to say that if you don’t have time to warm-up before your workout, you’d be better off not doing it at all. (I might get some push-back on that one, but can you sculpt anything out of concrete? Nope. You want soft and supple before you recreate.)

Today’s tip is a super simple warm-up progression for your upper body. If you plan on working any of the main upper movements, at the very least, run through this exercise first.  I’m talking any or all of vertical pushing and pulling, and horizontal pushing and pulling. Also any sort of carrying, while we’re at it.

This progression runs through all of the scapular positions in which it provides stability for all the aforementioned lifts to take place. There are four of them: elevation (vertical pushing), depression (vertical pulling), protraction (horizontal pushing), and retraction (horizontal pulling). Follow the video and pictures below to commit it to memory. Then pull (no pun intended) it out of your pocket before all your upper body workouts. Why is it important? Because there are 17 (!) muscles that insert into or around these bad boys. And we can get them all hot with 10-12 reps! Just a little extra: if you have a desk job, run through this sequence a few times through the day to keep your shoulders and back from getting cranky. Don’t skimp on the range of motion either. Take it all the way through.


Tip shared by Jesse Kepka, NASM-certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist and owner of Elevate Fitness. Jesse is a co-organizer for Priority Fit Camp. Each week, we publish a health and wellness tip that is shared at the Priority Fit Camp community workout. The free group class happens every Saturday at 7:50 a.m.  

Click for more info on the free Saturday group workout.