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  1. #1
    Registered User gainsfordays93's Avatar
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    Chest exercises without retracted scapula

    For years I had poor bench form (Wasn't retracting my shoulder blades) Additionally, I didn't really focus on smaller mid back muscles and wasn't doing many exercises aside from lats and upper trap stuff, so little to no mid lower trap, rhomboid, posterior delts) and so with a bad cocktail of anterior leaning shoulders and weak back muscles I ended up with injuries and tightness along my back (levator scapula, serratus posterior superior, etc).

    My shoulders are still leaned inward and my head is too far forward and so im following the sticky on shoulder rehab and focusing on pulling exercises to basically correct all of these issues. Its going to take some time because of how long I spent unaware of this issue.

    My problem is that I still cant do any benchpress with retracted scapulas without pain in the front and back of my neck on one side, and pain around my levator scapula. It feels like on one side (the side leaning more forward) the scapula wont stay in the right position for bench (which is i assume because there's just too much shoulder lean).

    If I do bench-press without retracted scapulas, I have no pain and feel a good workout, though it definitely hits the shoulders a bit more, and I just don't want to continue promoting the anterior shoulder lean issue. The problem is at this point my chest muscles have significantly atrophied, and I think avoiding chest exercises is going to make a whole other imbalance issue if they don't get worked. Is it a bad idea to do light bench and dumbell pressing for the time being without retracting my scapula to maintain some chest strength, assuming I just use light weights? What chest exercises can I do without requiring a retracted scapula? Machines?

    edit: for reference im 27yo
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    Registered User Szyszak's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by gainsfordays93 View Post
    For years I had poor bench form (Wasn't retracting my shoulder blades) Additionally, I didn't really focus on smaller mid back muscles and wasn't doing many exercises aside from lats and upper trap stuff, so little to no mid lower trap, rhomboid, posterior delts) and so with a bad cocktail of anterior leaning shoulders and weak back muscles I ended up with injuries and tightness along my back (levator scapula, serratus posterior superior, etc).

    My shoulders are still leaned inward and my head is too far forward and so im following the sticky on shoulder rehab and focusing on pulling exercises to basically correct all of these issues. Its going to take some time because of how long I spent unaware of this issue.

    My problem is that I still cant do any benchpress with retracted scapulas without pain in the front and back of my neck on one side, and pain around my levator scapula. It feels like on one side (the side leaning more forward) the scapula wont stay in the right position for bench (which is i assume because there's just too much shoulder lean).

    If I do bench-press without retracted scapulas, I have no pain and feel a good workout, though it definitely hits the shoulders a bit more, and I just don't want to continue promoting the anterior shoulder lean issue. The problem is at this point my chest muscles have significantly atrophied, and I think avoiding chest exercises is going to make a whole other imbalance issue if they don't get worked. Is it a bad idea to do light bench and dumbell pressing for the time being without retracting my scapula to maintain some chest strength, assuming I just use light weights? What chest exercises can I do without requiring a retracted scapula? Machines?

    edit: for reference im 27yo
    More pulling wont fix rounded shoulders. Rounded shoulders means weakness in upper trapezius and serratus, and tightness in chest and lats. If you want to have perfect posture you should prioritize over head pressess, and modified shrugs.

    When you do bench press, you should slightly retract scapula to have better activations in pecs, if you dont feel it, try wider grip. Second thing- you cant only do bench pressing, your muscle also has to work in stretch position (it will also open your chest and fix posture) so choose exercises like dumbells flys. Third - you can also hit chest without retracting if you use cables (cable flys exercise). or push ups, focusing on big protraction at the top - it will strongly hit serratus and keep your shoulders healthy.
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  3. #3
    Registered User gainsfordays93's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Szyszak View Post
    More pulling wont fix rounded shoulders. Rounded shoulders means weakness in upper trapezius and serratus, and tightness in chest and lats. If you want to have perfect posture you should prioritize over head pressess, and modified shrugs.

    When you do bench press, you should slightly retract scapula to have better activations in pecs, if you dont feel it, try wider grip. Second thing- you cant only do bench pressing, your muscle also has to work in stretch position (it will also open your chest and fix posture) so choose exercises like dumbells flys. Third - you can also hit chest without retracting if you use cables (cable flys exercise). or push ups, focusing on big protraction at the top - it will strongly hit serratus and keep your shoulders healthy.
    any particular way you recommend modifying shrugs?

    On scapula retraction, how do i tell when theyre in the right spot? I see alot of advice for "squeezing" them together, and holding them super tight, but that doesnt seem to work well for me. When i retract them just a bit to where i can feel them on the bench, and dont try too hard to freeze them during the pushing movement so that they can move a little, i seem to have better luck pain wise.
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  4. #4
    Registered User Szyszak's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by gainsfordays93 View Post
    any particular way you recommend modifying shrugs?

    On scapula retraction, how do i tell when theyre in the right spot? I see alot of advice for "squeezing" them together, and holding them super tight, but that doesnt seem to work well for me. When i retract them just a bit to where i can feel them on the bench, and dont try too hard to freeze them during the pushing movement so that they can move a little, i seem to have better luck pain wise.
    shrug 30 degree abduction with barbel, bands, cable any resistance. It's not about keep scapula retracted as much as possible and staying there all the time, it's more about stick your chest out a little bit so you have stable position, and then press. Try to press as your body feels but never push your scapula back and down, it's terrible cue.
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