Scapular Muscle Keys to Remember When Doing the Lats Pulldown Exercise

The lats pulldown is a great exercise for the scapular muscles.

It is also important in working shoulder adduction and abduction plus working the latissimus dorsi and rhomboids muscles.

There are a couple of key things to remember when performing the lats pulldown machine in order for it to work your scapular muscle better.

Don’t Move Your Shoulder Blades Down and Together at the Start

This is a common cueing that is given in fitness.  It is taught in most personal training course and is in most descriptions of the internet.

This is wrong!

When you start the exercise by moving your shoulder blades down and together you affect the proper movement pattern of the scapula and scapular muscles.  When you move your arm from overhead down to your side like you do in a lats pulldown, you want your scapula to downwardly rotate and posterior tilt.

If at the start of the exercise you move your shoulder blades down and together, you affect the proper movement of the scapula.  You want to have tension around the scapula but you want the scapula to downwardly rotate and anterior tilt as you start and end the exercise.  Then you want it to upwardly rotate and posterior tilt as you move from the end to the start of the exercise.

I hope this makes sense, I know it can be confusing but very important if you are doing the lats pulldown exercise in order to improve your scapular muscles.

Don’t Let Your Shoulders Rise at the Top

At the top of the movement, don’t let your shoulders relax and elevate.  This promotes over activation of the upper trapezius, which is over active in most people.  Plus you could get the head of the humerus bumping up against the clavicle which can lead to pinching of the structures between the head of the humerus and clavicle.  This may not be an issue if done once or twice but over time it can lead to a shoulder injury.

Elbows a Touch in Front of Your Shoulder

Moving your elbow behind you shoulder, leads to two things: the head of the humerus moving forward in the shoulder joint and the scapula tilts anterior.

With the head of the humerus moving forward it leads to greater stress on the anterior structures of the shoulder which can become an issue with time and lead to anterior shoulder instability.

With the scapula tilting anterior, this decrease the subacromial space which can lead to pinching of the structures in the subacromial space.

Keep doing the lats pulldown exercise.  It is very important for the scapular muscle but remember the three key things I went through in order to work the scapular muscle better and keep the shoulder injury free.

If you forgot they were don’t move your shoulder blades down and together at the start, don’t let your shoulders rise at the top and keep your elbows a touch in front of your shoulder.

Take care.

If you are looking for specific scapular exercises that target the scapular muscles, I would CLICK HERE.

If you are looking for exercises to help strengthen your scapular muscles, this program will help:

Rick Kaselj, MS