Retracting your shoulders on the RipRow and bike

Hey Lee,
seeing some good progress with the RipRow so far.
I’ve been struggling with my right shoulder after a crash (as well as the common rolling forward problem due to office work), my physio has given me exercises to adjust my positioning of the scapula and my shoulders in general better.

I showed him the RipRow and the lowrow exercise in particular. He likes the machine and suggests I always pull my scapula’s close to one another (which in turn brings my shoulders back), except when i reach the point of trying to push the bar away as far as possible, IOW he suggests at the end of the push away to also release the scapulas to extend the reach at the end of the spectrum, and when pulling back, start with the scapulas before bending the arms to pull.

What are your thoughts on shoulder/scapula positioning in the shredlift, lowrow and straightrow exercises or on the bike in general? Are there rules of thumb like “always try to keep shoulders back” ?



Thank you for reaching out.

Your PT is spot on.

On the RipRow, on the bike and in general:

Keep your shoulders back. I’ll also add down. Keep them back and down. As my doctor Dane DeLozier at REVO Physiotherapy and Sports Performance says, “Shoulders and ears are enemies. Keep them away from each other.”

When you reach to your maximum extension on the RipRow and bike, release the scapulae forward and upward.

When you start pulling, retract your scapulae first.

Move this way as often as possible. On the bike, on the RipRow and in daily life.


1) You ride and live stronger.

2) You have less pain.

3) You look more muscular!

A surprisingly high percentage of riders don’t know how to retract their shoulders. When I touch my students on the inside bottom corner of the shoulder blade and say “Pull with this muscle,” there’s often a big gap where meat should be.

When I started PT at REVO a few years ago, Dane found the same gap. My shoulder retractors had atrophied and become almost non functioning. This was exacerbating my existing shoulder problems and making me weak — and embarrassing me at the swimming pool.

Dane gave me exercises like the ones you’re doing. I did them religiously. As the RipRow came into being, I started using it for most of my training (with intense focus on my shoulder blades). Now my shoulders are way better, and I actually have muscles back there. When I take my shirt off I look like Wolverine!


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