Since my childhood, I'd been affected by lateral scapular winging that never really affected my life and me while doing sports (mainly soccer, martial arts / combat sports and some inline hockey). It has nothing to do with a weak serratus anterior and the physiotherapists could not help me further. I've been lifting since approximately one year at home, got a bench and a barbell (db and bw only previously) 4 months ago and took my workout more seriously. Switched from 2 long sessions a week to upper/lower split 4 times a week. So far, I've only bulked for two months (one at the beginning and the other recently) because I'm on nofap and waiting until marriage for longer bulks and therefore increased libido.

To increase the strength and function of my scapular stabilizers, I started with bent over rows up to the chest 3 months ago. I noticed that I'd been already very weak with this exercise and only went up around 4 kg / 9 lbs until now. Do you think this has to do with my scapular winging? Could it be that my weak lower traps causing the winging? My upper traps are particularly strong (thx to db pullover) just where my physical "weakness" is (winging), which the physiotherapist, who's practicing powerlifting, also noticed. My military press stats aren't impressing either.

Stats from my workout on strengthlevel:





  • Found an interesting article: sportsinjurybulletin.com/…
    – Some One
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 12:54
  • Typically weakness is a sign of a muscle being very weak, or your other muscles being really strong.. its odd that the pullover is so much weight considering it uses lats and back muscles. I am just commenting because this is not a proof of an answer
    – user32213
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 1:38
  • @AceCabbie The db pullover might hit the lower traps to a lesser degree than the upper the way I'm doing, but I'm not completely sure. My lats on the other side are surely not badly built.
    – Some One
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 10:24

1 Answer 1


I'd say, yes, certainly, broader muscle group exercise can be negatively impacted by weak stabilizers.

I injured my shoulder reaching for a volleyball swing years ago, and assumed it was a rotator cuff injury. After a couple years of not being able to fully throw a ball or spike a volleyball, I saw a physical therapist, who identified it as scapular stabilizer weakness (my rotator cuff muscles were VERY strong from futilely trying to solve my problem with those exercise for a long period of time).

He gave me excerises that focused specifically on those muscles, and I was able to throw and spike without pain very quickly, which suggests, to me, that improving the small stabilizers greatly improved my ability to perform the broader, larger muscle group movements.

I think "a chain is as strong as its weakest link" is an appropriate saying for this situation.

If you want to improve scapular stabilizers, broad muscle-group exercise like bent rows will help, but not in a targeted or focused way. One that worked for me: hold a small dumbbell, upper-arm down at the side, bent 90 degrees at the elbow, extending the lower arm straight in front. Squeeze the scapula to hold the shoulder blade still, and then make tiny left to right movements for a set period of time (I do 25 seconds), followed by tiny up and down movements. Switch hands, and repeat on the other side. That had me going from not being able to throw a softball with velocity for a couple years to winging it in a few weeks.

I'm a big guy with big back muscles, in general (lifetime swimmer), so I use 12 lb dumbells. I'd recommend trying a can of soup or stew, or a 5 lb dumbell, and then increase if it seems to be working okay. Or increase the amount of time spent. In any case, I just do one set of each direction on each side when I do weight workouts, and it helps a lot. The main focus is whether you can hold that shoulder blade still when making the movements. If you can't, then move down in weight.

  • Thank you for the suggestions, I'll try this exercise asap.
    – Some One
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 16:14

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