Advanced Pressing Strength: Air Flys for Protraction Mobility & Strength

June 10, 2023 by VAHVA Fitness

Don't skip this exercise! A necessary preparatory exercise for advanced pressing exercises and skills. 

Today, we have an exercise that will not only teach you how to properly protract your shoulders but it will also develop the involved muscles very well.

Your shoulder girdle (scapula) has many functions which include:

  • Protraction (shoulders forward)
  • Retraction (behind)
  • Elevation (up)
  • Depression (down)
  • Downward and upward rotation

In order to develop advanced levels of strength or impressive bodyweight skills, it's vital to understand the difference between the scapula articulations and how to train them properly.

Even in sports and martial arts this is extremely vital. For example, a lot of your punching power and speed will come from scapula protraction.

This is why serratus anterior has been called the "boxer's muscle" – it's involved in the protration of the scapula. Similarly, all throws such as in baseball involve the scapula protraction.

By practicing this exercise you will not only learn the proper body mechanics but you can also expect your strength and mobility improve in your shoulders which will of course transfer to better athleticism and overall functionality!

Air Fly - Protraction Exercise

Squeeze Reps 3 x 10-20 repetitions

Continuous Reps 3 x 15-30 repetitions

Isometric Hold 3 x 20-60 seconds hold

air flys exercise

Protraction develops muscles that play an important role in the full function of the shoulder girdle and deltoid.

The Air Fly develops the protraction in a way that it supports both pressing & pulling strength.

Solid protraction strength & mobility is crucial for many bodyweight skills and even for maximal punching power. You can expect to supercharge your form in push ups and handstand push ups especially. 

Repetitions work more on the full range mobility whereas isometric holds emphasise the stability of the joint.

The exercise may not look much but you are not going to develop the advanced pressing skills without the proper mechanics of protraction. If your mind is stuck with the conventional ways of training, the exercise may not make any sense to you.

However, by practicing the exercise you will notice that even without additional resistance the shoulders, scapula and chest muscles start to get tired which means the exercise is working.

Bear in mind that this is only one of the many preparatory exercises we do in Skill Master before learning the advanced bodyweight skills such as the freestanding handstand push up.

This is literally only a 4 minute clip, while a typical month in Skill Master has many exercises/movements and 20-30 minutes of video. This exercise is far from useless though – you will get a glimpse of proper training and body development.

Basically, most people who are into calisthenics and advanced skills have no idea about proper body mechanics or even proper body alignment. Instead they are just trying to brute force their results which often leads to plateaus and broken joints. 

Although learning advanced bodyweight skills is not a high priority for us anymore (we are focused on MMA and other aspects now), we would be able to make unbelievable progress with skills with the knowledge and methods we have now. 

If we knew what we know now we would have reached much higher levels back in the day when we were literally obsessed with the skills. And of course without breaking the joints, which happened relatively quickly when we first started training.

Learning how to develop your body is a form of art and a science that takes lots of research, study and experience to do it correctly.

Brute forcing your results with volume and intensity will only lead to a graveyard of broken joints and lost dreams.

If you want to build your body properly from the get go, or you are already hitting problems and plateaus in your training, building a strong foundation with 20XX Methods is key. If you want to learn advanced skills, go for Skill Master. 

Stay strong.

samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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