Today I am giving you another tool to add to your training with my Old Man Conjugate: New Upper Back Exercise. Lots of time I come up with new things to do at the oddest times. This time it was in the shower.

So, before I tell you about the Old Man Conjugate: New Upper Back Exercise, I’m going to tell you how it came about.

My upper back (t-spine) lost of lot of movement and mobility over the past few years and it just seemed to appear one day. Of course, that isn’t what happened, I just ignored the warning signs of impending gimpery. I really noticed it at the range shooting rifle prone.

I just couldn’t get into a position to see my optic. So, I’ve been working on fixing the problem.

Well, the other day I started getting shooting pain in my neck and behind my shoulder blade for NO APPARENT REASON. I didn’t do anything traumatic or sudden. I just woke up old.

As I was scrubbing the days filth off of me in the shower I noticed that raising my left arm hurt. A lot. So I tried thinking of things to do to make it better.

This is when the Old Man Conjugate: New Upper Back Exercise popped I my head.

Since it was a regularly scheduled training day I figured I’d toss it in as part of my warm up.

Here is how you do it.

Take a sled, a sled strap and a light weight (25-45 pounds the first time you try it.) and loop a Spud Inc Kaiju Long Ab Strap around your shoulders.

Note: It’s hard to see in the video because the strap is black and so is my hoody.

Walk backward until there is tension on the sled strap and then squeeze your shoulder blades together and spread your chest. Step back, repeat 50 or 100 times.

When you squeeze your shoulder blades back do it in three distinct motions over the course of the whole session.

Pull them:

  • Back and up to hit the upper Traps/Levator Scap/Rhomboid minor more
  • Straight back to hit the mid Trap/Rhomboid major/Teres more
  • Back and down to hit the Serratus anterior/lower Trap/Lats more

(These suggestions go for any row type movement)

Watch the video below to see how to do them.

What was my goal for the Old Man Conjugate: New Upper Back Exercise-Scap Rows?

My goal was multifaceted.

I wanted to:

  • Use the sled to get a lot of blood in the muscles in hopes of reducing pain and not adding any soreness.
  • I wanted to improve mobility and movement. Adding them first as part of my warmup indicated that I would have a more productive and pain free training session.
  • Finally, I wanted to see if this was a viable exercise or another one for the trash heap.

I’ll tell you, I’ve done them twice this week and will go another day.

Scap Rows did everything I expected them too. All of the above goals were met. And yes this is a viable exercise. I’ll add that they took the majority of the pain in my neck and upper back away for about 12-14 hours. This leads me to think that if I add them in daily for a while it may eliminate it, especially with some Graston and Art.

Once I am off the restrictions from my surgeon I’ll try these with a cable stack to see how they feel as a traditional eccentric/concentric movement.

I think I came up with a winner here.

Did you miss last week’s log?

Read it here.

C.J. Murphy,; Firefighter ELPAT Ladder Event Simulator; firefighting, conditioning;



Vincere vel mori

C.J. Murphy

Total Performance Sports

February 1, 2024