Reverse Fly – Scapula Retraction | Build Good Posture and Strong Shoulders Without Pain

For those of us who spend too much time behind our car’s steering wheel or bent over our keyboards and cell phones, the reverse fly can help rescue us from bad posture and a shaky balance.

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From exercise physiologists Ivan Ferran, Jamie Costello, and Jackie Gavino at the Pritikin Longevity Center, get tips on how to develop strong shoulders and good posture.

Good Posture

For those of us who spend too much time behind our car’s steering wheel or bent over our keyboards and cell phones, the reverse fly can help rescue us from bad posture and a shaky balance.

Strong Shoulders

In strengthening the major muscles of the upper back, shoulder, and upper arms, the reverse fly also promotes a broad-shouldered, upright stance and strong, confident walk.

Computer work and poor posture can lead to shoulder pain. Improve your posture and developing strong shoulders will help with the pain.
Do you spend your days bent over a keyboard? Get back to good posture. The reverse fly can help.

“What’s more, exercising major muscles increases blood flow and burns calories. Your body composition improves as you reduce fat and build muscle. You look and feel healthier,” adds Jamie Costello, MSC, Director of Exercise at the Pritikin Longevity Center.

Reverse Fly Video

So let’s get started! Watch this 1-minute instructional video on the reverse fly by Jamie and other exercise staff at Pritikin.

When starting out, use resistance bands with light tension so that you can spread your arms more easily and focus on correct form.

Key Tips

Begin by standing erect with good posture. Keep your shoulders back and down, your head back, and your chin tucked in alignment with your spine. With the ends of a resistance band wrapped around the palms of each hand, extend your arms straight out in front of you and slightly below shoulder height.

Now, begin to slowly and smoothly stretch the band by moving the hands away from each other and keeping your arms parallel to the floor. As you widen your arms, it’s important to feel your shoulder blades or scapula moving toward each other. Imagine that your shoulder blades are trying to squeeze a pencil between them.

Breathe out as you stretch the band. Pause at the out-stretched position with the shoulder blades nearly touching each other. Then breathe in as you slowly return your arms and hands to their original position in front of you.

Repeat this movement 8 to 12 times for each set. Do 2 sets 2 to 3 times a week. Allow 48 to 72 hours between sessions to rejuvenate the muscles.

Jamie Costello Shows You How to Exercise Without Pain
Jamie Costello, MSC, Exercise Director at Pritikin: “Many of our guests have difficulty exercising because it hurts. But by the time they leave us, they’re doing much better. The expert attention they receive here is a huge help.”

Avoiding Neck Pain

To avoid neck pain as well as achieve maximum benefit, do the reverse fly slowly and smoothly, maintaining form throughout the movement. If you are unable to do at least 8 repetitions without straining and breaking form, lessen the tension on the resistance band. When you can easily do 12 or more repetitions per set, increase the band tension.

Expert Guidance at the Pritikin Longevity Center

When you are first learning new exercise movements like the reverse fly, it’s best to be observed by a companion, or better yet, a highly qualified trainer like those at the Pritikin Longevity Center to be sure that you are using the proper technique.

Do it right, and the reverse fly will reward you with enhanced strength and capability. You’ll look better, too. You’ll stand and move with more vitality and self-assurance.

Strength Exercises | Key Benefits, Recommendations

We tend to know the benefits of cardiovascular exercises like jogging or swimming. They improve heart function and circulation. They also help lower blood pressure and reduce risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

But many of us don’t fully understand, or appreciate, the benefits of strength (also called resistance) exercises such as the reverse fly, also called the scapula retraction.

Strength exercises are exercises that strengthen all the major muscle groups of the body. If you do them regularly, you’ll reap huge benefits:

  • You’ll feel your muscles grow firmer and more powerful as your endurance increases.
  • Your coordination, agility, and balance improve.
  • You can better perform a myriad of daily activities – like climbing stairs, getting in and out of your car, carrying groceries, playing golf, hiking the countryside, and playing basketball with the kids. You do them all with greater ease, confidence, and joy.
  • As you increase strength and agility, you reduce the chance of falls and injuries.
  • You improve your body composition. That’s because as you build lean muscle, you reduce body fat. As you lower your percentage of body fat, you lower your risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
  • Finally, strength training helps prevent bone loss, even in those with osteoporosis.

Along with all the above, you’ll also look and feel better. There’ll be more pep in your step.

“And your body—from calves and thighs to butt and stomach to chest and arms—will definitely look fitter and trimmer,” encourages Pritikin’s Exercise Director Jamie Costello.

“But the key to all these benefits is not just doing strength exercises, but doing them right. If done incorrectly, they could create pain and keep you from exercising. They might even cause injury, which would also put you on the sidelines,” cautions Jamie.

To accentuate the positive benefits and eliminate the negatives, “we focus on one-on-one guidance here at Pritikin,” says Jamie. “Within a week or two, our guests are noticing that their muscles are automatically falling into correct form, and they’re feeling the benefits.”

Pritikin Basic 8

In addition to the reverse fly, there are 7 other exercises that are part of the Pritikin Video Series for strengthening the body’s major muscle groups.

All 8 are:
1. Squat: When done correctly, the squat exercise not only helps you look better (who doesn’t want a nicer-looking butt?), it makes life better. That’s because squatting is a movement we use in all sorts of everyday activities.
Watch the How To Do Squats Without Knee Pain video »
2. Calf Raise: Calf raises are a great exercise for toning up legs. What’s more, calf raises train your body to maintain balance, which can help you avoid nasty falls. Watch the Calf Raises Video: How To Shape Up Your Legs Without Pain »
3. Chest Press: The chest press not only tones your chest, shoulders, and arms, it strengthens your core. But it’s really important to do the chest press correctly to avoid pain and injury.
Watch the Chest Press Video: Tone Your Upper Body Without Pain or Injury »
4. One Arm Dumbbell Row: This exercise builds a strong back. It also strengthens your shoulders, upper arms, and core. You’ll be able to walk and stand longer – at football games, at museums – without having to contend with an aching back. Watch the One Arm Dumbbell Row Video: Strengthen Your Back Without Pain or Injury »
5. 45-Degree Shoulder Raise: The 45-degree shoulder raise can power up your shoulder muscles. You’ll be able to do a lot of things more easily, like lifting your carry-on into the overhead bins of planes. Watch the 45-Degree Shoulder Raise Video: Powerful Shoulders without Pain
6. Reverse Fly – Scapula Retraction: The scapula retraction is a great exercise for improving your posture. The exercise experts at Pritikin recommend using bands. Essentially, you’re moving your shoulder blades (scapula) back toward your spine.
7. Standard Crunch: Here’s an important exercise for your core. Your Pritikin video will show you how to start with the simplest and safest movements, and from there progress to more challenging forms.
Watch the Standard Crunch Video: How To Do Crunches Without Hurting Yourself »
8. Prone Leg Lift: The prone leg lift is a superb all-purpose exercise for your lower body. It strengthens the lower back, glutes (the three muscles that make up the buttocks), hamstrings, and core. Watch the Video: How To Do Prone Leg Lifts Correctly »

At the Pritikin Longevity Center, the #1 priority is performing every type of exercise correctly to avoid pain and injury.

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