The Scap Step Up: Shoulder Control + Core Stability

Today’s exercise builds off of the last post I shared on the blog (Exercise to Cure Serratus Anterior Amnesia), which got some great feedback from Mike who said:

“I did it and my shoulders feel much looser and
almost gave me like a warmed up looseness…”

Immediate looseness like Mike experienced happens when you activate stabilizer muscles (i.e. the serratus anterior) because your central nervous system sees that the joint is stable and can let go of protective tightness, which guards a joint from injury when no stability is present.

It’s like when you’ve got a powerful urge to do a #2 but there’s no toilet in sight – you clench up your glutes and sphincter and all the muscles down there to protect you from making a poopie in your pants (and the associated shame and embarrassment).

Same thing happens at every joint in your body including the hips, spine, ankles, etc.

I guess your anus isn’t really a joint, but I digress.

Let’s get back on track here.

The Scap Step is a great exercise because it trains the following important elements:

  • Straight-arm strength (to counteract all the bent-arm strength training that's mostly done)
  • Unilateral serratus anterior strength and control through the full range of protraction/retraction
  • Integrated diagonal core stability (rotational power anyone?)

And more, which you’ll discover in the video:

Do anywhere from 4 reps on each side if you’re going for activation as part of a warmup or multiple sets of up to 10 reps per side if you’re trying to build strength-endurance.

I also recommend you do the sequence from the last post FIRST, as it’ll release the naughty pec minor and get the serratus anterior activated at a low level before jumping into the Scap Step Up, which is a higher intensity drill when done correctly.

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Pamela struble
Pamela struble

I to would really like this in hard copy we have very limited Internet access and I did order your program at first but got a refund cause was unable to us it,have a lot of shoulder issues and am in pain, have been told I need to build some muscle in my shoulders, have frozen shoulder along with calcium deposits


Really like your last two articles, I have bicep impingement and have been doing scapular retraction with a band as well as one arm presses on a yoga ball against a wall combined with shoulder and pec stretches. It seems to have some effect but after 6 months of no pain it came back. Do you think I can replace these exercises with what you have suggested in your articles? My shoulders are still tight and quite achy despite 6 months of doing this rehab so might try replacing the exercises with what you suggest.


I like this, but find it hurts my ac joint a bit. It was diagnosed with osteo AR (which I find hard to deal with, 33yrs old popped the clavicle sparring). Do you reckon your shoulder flexibility program could help me carry on training despite the irritating pain?

Eric Wong
Eric Wong

This is quite an advanced exercise and requires a lot of strength and if your AC joint is messed up, it may be too much for you and you’ll have to build up to it.

AC joint issues can definitely cause serratus anterior inhibition, which would further the cycle of pain.

Bottom line – you need the SA working properly, as well as the rest of the muscles that will prevent anterior tilting and retraction of the scap.

Based on these thoughts, I believe the new program that is coming soon is the best to begin with, then you’d go with the Shoulder Flexibility Solution.

Make sure you’re on my email list to be notified of the program release.

Lisa DeVries
Lisa DeVries

I have a lot of shoulder, neck and chest area pain. Do or will you have hard copies of what you do? I live in the country and our internet service isn’t good. I need your help!

Eric Wong
Eric Wong

I do not have hard copies, unfortunately.

We may consider it if there’s a great enough demand, so after I launch I’ll do a survey to see if demand exists.