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Scott Pelton-Stroud

Why is it important to retract in a Front Lever?

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Scott Pelton-Stroud

A friend asked me recently why it is important to focus on scapular retraction while doing Front Lever work, and I realized I did not have a confident answer.

 

My best guess is that retracting to a neutral scapular position would help with maintaining a flat body-line, while letting the scapula be pulled into protraction could allow an unwanted curve in thoracic spine area. But maybe it has to do with scapular health/development? Balance or strength?

 

Does anyone know why this is important?

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Mikkel Ravn

Coach recently stated (again) the scapulae are neither retracted nor protracted - They are neutral, but made as wide as possible, as this maximizes strength.

 

I believe the reason to not retract is that retraction switches of lat activation. Try it yourself.

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Léo Aïtoulha

Coach Sommer on reddit :
 

Scapula should NEVER be fully retracted during front lever work. When the scapula are fully retracted the lats are deactivated.

This is easily verified. Stand upright. Now flex your lats. Now fully retract your scapula until the shoulder blades are touching together. Now try to flex your lats again. It can't be done.

The problem arises from an issue of semantics. What we are striving for in front lever is to be neither fully protracted nor full retracted. The most efficient position is the scaps protracted with the shoulder blades spread as wide as possible. This is your position of greatest strength.

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Joshua Slocum

Warning: this post is speculation.

 

My best guess would be that the more the scapula protract, the further they twist forward, thus disadvantaging the long head of the tricep: neutral scapula provide the best leverage for the tricep. Retracting past neutral would similarly disadvantage the tricep. The lats [i think] have about the same leverage whether the scapula is neutral or protracted, so neutral is the most advantageous position. 

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Scott Pelton-Stroud

Krel and Ravn, please note that my question is not "What scapular position is correct?". The answer to that is neutral.

My question is WHY is it important to retract to a neutral partially protracted position rather than allowing gravity to pull you into full protraction?

 

Edit: My mistake--as Krel actually pointed out above, Coach states that "The most efficient position is the scaps protracted"

Edited by NoHiddenCosts

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Fred Mak

no, the scapula should be somewhat protracted.  see the linked reddit thread with coach.  although, i do not know why it is important to do so.

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Scott Pelton-Stroud

Whoops, that was silly of me. I misread coach's post and somehow missed the line (which Krel kindly and obviously bolded) "The most efficient position is the scaps protracted". Please excuse my oversight.

 

Alright, so the correct position is with a protracted scapula but not a fully protracted scapula? I assume if you retract further, the lats become deactivated. (Though I actually tried Coach's example and felt like my lats remained activated with a fully retracted scapula.) But why retract at all? Does a fully protracted scapula deactivate the triceps, as Joshua suggested?

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Coach Sommer

 ... Though I actually tried Coach's example and felt like my lats remained activated with a fully retracted scapula ...

Then you were not fully retracted with the shouldes blades touching.

 

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Scott Pelton-Stroud

Then you were not fully retracted with the shouldes blades touching.

 

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

I think you may be right... That or I am having trouble accurately telling whether or not I am activating my lat muscles.

Could you shed any light on why we should strive for a somewhat protracted position rather than a fully protracted position? Or why it is the position of greatest strength?

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Alexander Svensson

I know this thread is about the FL but what about rows and pull-ups; should we not aim for full retraction there as well or is it different in that regard?

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