Functional Training Institute

WEDNESDAY WISDOM: Movement Sins – Poor Push Pattern

poor push pattern

In exploring the 7 common movement sins, we have worked our way up the body from knees to hips and spine, and now we’ve reached shoulders…

Movement Sin:


The shoulder is a complex joint, and it’s health relies heavily upon the function of the scapulothoracic joint – if the scapulae don’t move effectively along the ribcage then the glenohumeral joint is forced to compensate.

There are two key ways the shoulder can move poorly in a push pattern:

  1. Lurching:

You can spot this as the front of the shoulder rolls forward as you get to the bottom of a push up or chest press, and it happens as the scapula fails to retract effectively.

  1. Winging:

You’ll see this when the scapulae fail to stay flush with the ribcage as you complete a push up, so the medial border of the scapulae protrude up.

Due to the complexity of the shoulder there are numerous imbalances and muscle weaknesses to consider when working to eliminate these sins.

  1. Pec Minor dominating the Lower Trap

When the Pec Minor is hypertonic it pulls the scapular into an anterior tilt.

  1. External Rotators (infrasprinatus, teres minor & posterior delta) dominating the Subscapularis.

This imbalance causes the humerus to sit high in it’s socket and reduces the space it has to freely move.

These imbalances can both contribute not only to both lurching and winging, they can cause shoulder impingement.

It is important to note that the Serratus Anterior is also the most commonly weak muscle that causes the scapula to wing, as without strength in this muscle the scapula cannot be held down close to the rib cage.

So how can we improve our shoulder function and eliminate poor push patterns:

  1. Release the dominant muscles – the pec minor and the external rotators
  • The massage ball, posture pro or a kettlebell handle are the best way to reach these small and specific muscles.
  1. Determine which muscles require strengthening and get to work – the lower trap, subscapularis and the serrates anterior are the key muscles to consider.
  2. Work to strengthen these muscles in isolation.
  3. Retrain your push patterns with correct scapula movement before integrating heavier resistance and load.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter

For for Newsletter

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Scroll to Top