Research has shown that recreational weightlifters have greater imbalances between the upper and lower trap than the general population. Therefore, performing lower trapezius work is important in this population to prevent injury as well as properly condition the scapular muscles. The chair press-up helps do just that.

Place the hands on the armrests of a chair and essentially hover over the chair not touching the backside down. Both feet should be flat on the floor. The elbows will remain locked throughout the exercise.

Once safely situated in the starting position, press down through the hands and lift the backside upward while pushing the shoulder blades downward. Pause at the top and then slowly lower down to the start position. The feet remain on the ground throughout. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.


Strengthening the lower trapezius muscle is important for overhead athletes and recreational weightlifters. Due to poor posture, computer work and muscular imbalances, the upper trapezius often dominates the lower trapezius with shoulder movement which can lead to faulty scapulo-humeral rhythm and contribute to shoulder pain and dysfunction. You may even notice a client’s scapula may appear elevated more on one side when observing static posture from behind.

Additional notes:
This exercise can be done on the edge of a flat bench in the gym; however, use caution and ensure that the bench is secure and will not slide out from under the client while performing the exercise. Some clients may have wrist discomfort with this variation because it calls for full extension. If that is the case, they may be able to try to a fisted version instead. Just be aware that this is a more unstable and advance way to execute the exercise, and it should only be used if you are confident in the client’s ability to safely perform the exercise.

Brian Schiff, PT, OCS, CSCS, is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. Currently, he serves as the supervisor at the Athletic Performance Center in Raleigh, NC. Brian presents nationally at several professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention, rehab and sport-specific training. For more cutting edge training information, subscribe to his monthly Training & Sports Medicine Update