Five Midback Strengthening Exercises

Stabilize the shoulder complex and improve posture with midback strengthening exercises. Consistent focused training to strengthen the thoracic spine muscles and the scapular retractor muscles improves health, fitness and posture. The thoracic paraspinal muscles extend the thoracic spine. The rhomboid major, rhomboid minor, middle trapezius and lower trapezius retract the scapulae. Strengthen these muscles to prevent and correct postural impairments such as scapular dyskinesis and upper cross syndrome.

Isometric Scapular Retraction

Sit, stand or kneel in good posture.

Hold chin parallel to floor.

Hands resting on thighs.

Pull inferior medial borders of scapulae toward spine.

Hold isometric contraction for two to six seconds.

Advanced arm positions: Shoulders flexed ninety degrees, shoulders abducted ninety degrees and shoulders flexed one hundred and fifty degrees.

Build to fifteen reps.

Pull-up Bar Scapular Retraction

Grip pull-up bar.

Straighten arms and let body hang straight downward in pull-up starting position.

Contract scapular retractor muscles to pull inferior medial borders of scapulae toward each other.

Hold for two to six seconds.

Build to fifteen reps.

Use numerous hand widths and body positions to target muscles at variety of angles.

Prone Cobra

Works entire posterior chain. Advanced exercise.

Isometric exercise. Hold two to six seconds.


1) Forearms assisted spinal extension.

2) Palms assisted spinal extension.

3) Arms by sides. Retract scapulae and extend spine.

4) Arms by sides. Retract scapulae, extend spine and hip extension.

5) Shoulders abduction and external rotation. (Thumbs pointed upward.) Retract scapulae, extend spine and hip extension.

Bruegger’s Exercise (AKA Brugger’s Exercise)

Start with no resistance. Once technique is flawless, progress to a light resistance band.

Stand in good posture. Arms hanging straight down. Elbows by side.

Elbow flexed to about ninety degrees. Forearms supinated.

Retract both scapulae. Hold this position throughout entire exercise.

Externally rotate shoulders.

Extend elbows. Then flex elbows.

Internally rotate shoulders to return to starting position.

Build to fifteen reps.


Stand in good posture. Feet slightly wider than shoulder width.

Arms hanging by side. Shoulder neutral (thumbs facing forward.)

Retract scapulae and hold throughout entire exercise.

Exhale and raise arms along scapular plane. If unable to hold scapular retraction, stop arm motion when scapula retraction is lost.

Inhale and lower arms to starting position.

Build to fifteen reps.

Can also be performed with shoulder in internal and external rotation.

Perform these five exercises to build strength and endurance in the thoracic spine and scapular retractors muscles. The strength and endurance will stabilize the scapulae during shoulder motions and provide a solid foundation for proper neck motions. Stabilizing the scapulae will help to prevent shoulder conditions such as subacromial impingement syndrome, rotator cuff syndrome and long head of the biceps tendinopathy.

Disclaimer: Viewing this video does not take the place of seeing a medical professional, receiving proper training in the medical profession or working with a fitness professional. Please visit a medical professional for evaluation, diagnosis and treatment. Please work with a fitness professional to learn proper exercise technique and to develop a proper training program. Never perform an exercise that elicits or intensifies symptoms. If an exercise elicits or intensifies symptoms, stop immediately and use a viable substitute. Please receive proper medical training before attempting these medical procedures.

Dr Donald A Ozello DC of Championship Chiropractic in Las Vegas, NV

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