The Serratus Anterior, often known as the “Big Swing Muscle” or “Boxer’s Muscle,” is a key muscle that aids appropriate shoulder mobility.
This muscle is required for a variety of arm movements, whether open chain (punching/grabbing something from the cabinet) or closed chain (lifting something off the floor) (pushups, planks, downward dogs, or handstands).
Furthermore, the serratus anterior is best recognized for aiding in the prevention of scapular winging, which occurs when our shoulder blade moves excessively away from our thorax during arm motions.
This post will show you how to increase the activation and control of the serratus anterior, a crucial scapular stabilizer!
What are some exercises that target the serratus anterior?
Serratus Exercises That Work
- Roll out your abs.
- Bear Crawl at a High Level.
- Push-up on the scapula.
- Band Chest Press (Unilateral).
- Pullover with Dumbbells
- Lateral Raise of the Scapular Plane.
- Rotational Punches using Dumbbells
The Best Serratus Anterior Exercises
Here’s a sample video on serratus anterior best exercises. Check it out!
Where does Serratus Anterior Appear?
The Serratus Anterior is a large, flattened muscle that goes from the lateral surface of the ribs to the costal side of the medial border of the scapula, passing posteriorly around the thoracic wall.
By placing your palm right beneath your armpit, you can feel this muscle.
The scapula is pulled forward along the rib cage by this muscle, which allows for forward elevation of the arm (protraction).
Because it plays such an important function in stabilizing the scapula and contributing to overall shoulder health, when it is weak, it typically appears as scapular winging or poor scapular control.
3 Functional Components Of Serratus Anterior
The serratus anterior is divided into three parts: superior, middle, and inferior.
These are listed in the following order:
- The superior medial angle of the scapula receives this section, which comes from the first and second ribs. When the arm is lifted overhead, this component acts as an anchor, allowing the scapula to spin.
- The middle component of the serratus anterior originates from the third, fourth, and fifth ribs and inserts on the scapula’s vertebral border to protract it.
- The inferior component arises from the sixth through ninth ribs and inserts on the scapula’s inferior angle. This section also rotates the inferior angle upward and laterally while protracting the scapula.
Overall, the serratus anterior’s MAIN action, with all parts of the muscle working together, is to protract and upwardly rotate the scapula.
It is to keep the shoulder blade close to the thoracic wall and optimally positioning the glenoid for maximum upper-extremity efficiency during various overhead motions.
The serratus anterior is an important part in maintaining proper shoulder control. T
he Shoulder [P]Rehab Program is a step-by-step program established by a physical therapist that teaches you how to improve your shoulder health.
This four-phase program will introduce you to a variety of science-backed scapula and shoulder strengthening and stabilization exercises.
Why Is Serratus Anterior Training Important?
Despite the fact that the serratus anterior is such a crucial muscle for shoulder girdle function and health, it is sometimes overlooked during exercise programming!
When this muscle is weak or serratus anterior pain is on the go, the shoulder blade does not move smoothly over the thorax (rib cage) as it should when performing functional arm movements like reaching overhead.
When the serratus anterior is not adequately engaged, the inferior border of the scapula will become more apparent (scapular winging).
The Best Serratus Anterior Exercises With A Close Chain
Closed chain serratus movements are frequently used as a starting point.
When your body is stabilized or anchored to the floor, you can perform closed chain workouts.
As physical therapists, we frequently discover that the problem is caused by a lack of control rather than a lack of strength in the serratus.
Scapula exercises should be done in a closed chain environment for greater feedback.
Your body weight on your shoulders acts as a resistance cue for your scapula protractors, the serratus anterior in particular, to work!
- Twist your triceps to the inside of your armpit. Why are your triceps pointing towards your armpit? To reduce the amount of assistance provided by the major pec muscles in order to bias the muscle we wish to target. The Anterior Serratus!
- Your body should be pushed away from the floor. Pushing your shoulder blades out and around your body accomplishes this.
You can control how much weight is placed on your shoulders with this modified push up plus.
The less demanding this gets for your shoulders as you raise your hips towards the sky and lean back towards your knees.
More demand will be placed on your shoulders as you shift your body weight forward onto your hands.
The Best Serratus Anterior Exercises With An Open Chain
Make sure that whatever exercise you do is in line with your goals!
Excessive scapular elevation is frequently used to correct for excessive scapular elevation when performing wall slides.
For example, if the goal is to strengthen the scapular elevators (upper trapezius and levator scapula), as in patients with TOS (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome), the wall slip with scapular elevation is not an issue.
However, the wall slide demonstrated here is designed to maximize scapular upward rotation, not elevation, in order to target the serratus anterior.
Sub-acromial impingement has also been linked to excessive upper trapezius and anterior deltoid muscle activation.
You must have appropriate mobility at the glenohumeral joint, scapulothoracic joint, and thoracic spine in order to attain full overhead motion.
The glenohumeral joint isn’t always the problem for those who have trouble moving their shoulders.
The problem is caused by a lack of full scapular upward rotation or full thoracic spine extension.
Serratus Anterior Activation – Wall Slides
When done correctly, the wall slide is an excellent way to stimulate the serratus anterior. Individuals with shoulder pathology should include this workout in their routine.
It’s very useful and applicable to people who have shoulder impingement problems, because many of them start to feel pain at 90 degrees of shoulder flexion, which could be attributed to poor serratus anterior activation and/or scapular kinematics from other muscles.
As a result, the wall slide exercise allows people to work on recruitment of the serratus anterior muscle over 90 degrees of shoulder elevation.
Supine Overhead Reach Is One Of The Best Serratus Anterior Exercises
Here are two Serratus Anterior Exercises that are both basic and effective:
- Wrap a thera band across your back and lay on your back.
- When you reach overhead, keep your elbows straight and focus on the extra scapula push-out; this will aid with Serratus Anterior Activation!
- While standing, concentrate on a hip hinge.
- Raise your arms to the ceiling.
- Take note of how I rotate my shoulder externally while pointing my thumbs upwards. This is a small change that can result in more serratus anterior recruitment and less pec muscle engagement.
- Do not arch your low back during either of these workouts. By lifting the shoulders in the scapular plane of movement and horizontally abducting your shoulders 30 degrees, you can make this more functional.
Exercises For The Serratus Anterior : Uppercut
When completing an uppercut, the pectoral muscles are frequently overcompensated!
If you want to target the serratus anterior with this exercise, try externally rotating your shoulder as you raise your arm.
During this exercise, keep your elbow medial to your wrist to ensure external rotation of your shoulder.
The serratus anterior is a crucial muscle for optimal scapular mobility and shoulder health.
There are a variety of exercises you can do to improve the activation and overall strength of this muscle, including the ones we’ve shown you in this post!
It is critical to continue to educate yourself and learn what movement inadequacies may be causing an underlying bodily problem.
Serratus anterior muscle dysfunction has been linked to a variety of shoulder problems.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Eight muscle “slips” that join to the side of your ribcage give rise to the serratus anterior.
It then snakes its way around the side of your rib cage and beneath your scapula.
It goes along the medial margin of your scapula there.
The Pushup Has Been Improved!
Few people are aware of the “pushup plus,” although it is an activity that almost everyone should perform.
This is because, in addition to exercising your chest, it also works your serratus anterior, a small but vital muscle that helps you move your shoulder blades.
Scapula push-ups strengthen the muscles that keep the scapula from winging.
As the arm moves, the shoulder blade slides upwards, downwards, forwards, backwards, and rotates clockwise or anti-clockwise.
It should not, however, pull away from the ribs, as shown in the right shoulder blade in the illustration below.