Scap Pull Up – Excellent Shortcut To A Pull Up

Scap pull up also known as scapular pull up is a great exercise that will prepare you for a regular pull up.

It’s a small movement that targets mostly your traps. It will help you activate your scapula. When used with other exercises like inverted rows and assisted pull ups it will slowly improve your strength.

With increased strength, you will be able to do your first pull up.

When I started my fitness quest over four years ago, even just hanging from a pull up bar was too hard for me. I started by hanging in an inverted row position on a semi high bar. That is pretty easy to do.

I went on doing inverted rows and slowly moving to a lower and lower bar. After a while, I was able to hang from a high pull up bar. After that, I was finally able to do a scap pull up.

With scap pull ups, inverted rows, assisted pull ups and pull up negatives I concentrated all my effort on improving my pulling strength. After a while, I was finally able to do my first pull up.

What is a scap pull up

Scap Pull Up

Scap pull up is a small movement. It will move you from a dead hang into an active hang position.

You will be hanging freely from a pull up bar. After moving your shoulder blades down you will be in an active hang position.

This is the first part of a pull up movement. So, this exercise will help you polish your pull up form.

This exercise can be found in a muscle up progression. This progression will be great for you if you want to improve your pulling strength.

Even if you think you will never be able to do a muscle up, working on this progression will be helpful. It will help you build strength and make your back muscles easily visible.


Scap Pull Up

The first important benefit of a scap pull up is improving the strength of your upper back muscles. Mostly your trapezius.

It also helps you improve the starting movement of a regular pull up. Regular pull up starts from a dead hang. The first part of the movement is getting from a dead hang to an active hang position.

To be able to perform a scap pull up you should be able to hang from a bar. So, this exercise helps you improve your grip strength. It will also improve your shoulder extension.

Everything mentioned is needed to prepare you for your first pull up.

Scap pull up muscles worked

Scap pull ups will primarily work your trapezius. They will also work other upper back muscles. Those other muscles will help you pull it off.

Scap pull up muscles worked:


  • Trapezius
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Rhomboids
  • Teres minor
  • Rear deltoids
  • Infraspinatus


  • Forearms
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Abs

How to do a scap pull up


Scap pull ups are performed on a high pull up bar. Grab a pull up bar a bit wider than your shoulders. Point your feet down while hanging freely from the bar. In an ideal case, you will be hanging without touching the ground. Your head should be set the same as when you are standing upright. Don’t raise your head up to look at the bar.

Upward movement:

Scap pull up is a small movement from a dead hang to an active hang position. By activating your upper back muscles, move your scapulas down and your chest a bit forward.

You are in an active hang position.

Downward movement:

Release your scapulas slowly. Let your scapulas sink down and your chest move back a bit. You should come back to a dead hang.

Repeat those small movements for reps.

Common mistakes

Mistake 1 – Loose legs


If your legs are left hanging without any tension it will prevent you from doing scap pull ups right. You will be swinging without control. You will see various sources touting scap pull ups with your legs bent. This will make doing pull ups later on harder. It’s because you will lose energy through your legs.


Correcting this mistake is rather easy.  Keep your legs straight with your toes pointed down. Keeping your legs straight and your core muscles tight will help you keep your body under tension. It will prevent swinging and avoid energy leaks all over your body. If you concentrate on keeping your legs tensed with your toes pointed down, it will do magic when you are going for your first pull up.

Think about active hang as a hanging version of a hollow hold. If you have problems with this, you can also try improving your hollow holds.

Mistake 2 – Extending your neck up


When performing any kind of a pull up, scap pull up included, people tend to look up to a bar. Pull up bar seems like a point where you are aiming to go to. So, your eyesight as you would expect goes towards the bar.


To fix this mistake, you have to focus on keeping your head level. It helps to look at some fixed point far in front of you.

Mistake 3 – Using momentum to make a movement


If you lack strength you may find yourself making a movement using momentum. This will prevent you from reaping the most benefits of this exercise. It’s because you will only engage your muscles to start the movement. You will not use your muscles during the entire ascent and descent.


Focus on doing the move slowly. Both when going up and more importantly when going back down.

Scap pull up progression

If scap pull ups are hard for you, there are other exercises that will help you build the strength needed. Here are some of the easier exercises you can try:

When scap pull ups are no longer difficult and you want to progress further, there are a bunch of options you can explore. Here are just some of the exercises you may try:

Since this exercise is one of the easiest in the muscle up progression, there are only a few options that are easier to do. But, there is so much you can try when you master it. 

Key takeaways

Scap pull up is an excellent and underrated exercise that will help you build your upper back muscles. It will help you prepare your body for harder exercises like a regular pull up.

One of the added benefits is improved shoulder extension. It will also help you improve your pull up execution.

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