5 Unique Serratus Anterior Exercises for Strong & Stable Shoulders


in this video you’re gonna learn five
unique serratus anterior exercises that will be beneficial whether you’re
looking to improve shoulder stability for sports performance or your
performance in the gym you’ve got scapular winging that you’re
trying to fix or just want to improve shoulder function for long-term health yo what’s up it’s Coach E here from
Precision Movement and today I’ve got five serratus anterior exercises for you
that will help you get that muscle working properly integrate it into
patterns that you’ll use in everyday life Sport and the gym and to prevent
problems like scapular winging if you have that and if it’s hurting you so the
serratus anterior that’s something that you may or may not have heard of before
and it’s a muscle that attaches it originates and starts on the medial
aspect of the scapula but you can’t touch it because it lies deep to the
scapula is on the anterior aspect which is the front facing aspect of the
scapula or the shoulder blade wraps forward around your ribcage and inserts
in a serrated fashion that’s where the name comes from into the ribcage here
you might have heard of it referred to before as the boxers muscle because it
adds reach to a punch so if your arm is just stuck out without really extending
it here like this and then you reach it like that the serratus anterior
contributes a lot to that movement protraction of the scapula which is the
scapula wrapping around the rib cage so that’s why they called the boss response
because you can get an extra couple inches of reach and if I were to measure
right here the difference between full serratus anterior activation which is
protraction the scapula and then retraction you can get about six inches
so it could be significant if you’re not using it properly or if it’s
dysfunctional because of different things there’s a few different things
common things that result in its dysfunction
one is carrying heavy backpacks that’s for long periods of time so if
you’re a student you’ve got a book full of bags and you’re lugging them all
around campus that could cause damage to the long thoracic nerve which innervates and
fires up the serratus anterior if that nerve gets damaged it will no longer
fire that muscle and the muscle will weaken and atrophy that’s one common
scenario another common scenario is musculature in the front so internal
rotators of the shoulder like the pec major or the subscapularis as well as
the pec minor if those muscles are hypertonic and they are contracted they
can cause inhibition of the serratus anterior so it doesn’t do its job
properly so in this video I’m gonna show you a technique to dis inhibit those
muscles shut them off decrease their tone to allow the serratus to fire up
better finally here’s one that I hear or I come across quite often is that common
cue that a lot of trainers or you might hear in videos or articles of keeping
the shoulder blades down and back and when that cue is overused and applied to
techniques where that shouldn’t happen that will shut off the serratus interior
so the serratus anterior is responsible for protraction of the scapula
protraction of the scapula should occur whenever your arms are in front of you
so at the top of a push-up or whenever your arms are up above the serratus
should be protracting and elevating that’s called upper rotation that
facilitates that movement of the arm the shoulder flexion if you’re always
keeping your shoulder blades pinched down and back that’s going to recruit
the rhomboids middle and lower trapezius and it’s not gonna allow the serratus to
do its job which is to move the scapula and maintain that dynamic stability of
the scapula during shoulder movements if you don’t use it you’re gonna lose it
okay so if you’re always told to keep your shoulders down and back whether
it’s pressing overhead doing bench press that’s a common one you want to do that
during the bench press if your shoulders safe especially if you’re lifting heavy
chin-ups is another keep any shoulder blades down and back
even though you’re hanging and your arms are your shoulders are in full flexion
that cue is not going to serve you and your shoulder health for the long term
so allowing proper scapula humeral rhythm which is movement of the scapula
in conjunction with the arm they should move together in a coordinated rhythm
allowing that to happen is going to help you to keep your shoulders balanced and
healthy so in this video let’s go through the five exercises now that are
going to help to get the shoulder girdle working properly and to get the serratus
anterior firing and to get it stronger the first technique active self
myofascial release four just call it the anterior shoulder
we’re gonna hit deltoids pec minor impact major here all you want to do is
start with your arm across grab on to your opposite shoulder so it kind of
relaxes those muscles and then dig your fingers into this area of the shoulder
from there there’s various moves you can do but basically you’re just opening up
reaching back as you’re sliding the fingers down this way this will dis
inhibit these muscles decrease the tone so that other muscles like the serratus
that are opposed to the movements and the functions of these muscles can fire
better so key is grab a cross shoulder find an area dig in pull and then open
up and you can with this arm you can do different motions like more of an
external rotation motion or just a pure horizontal extension motion and go from
the clavicle the collarbone here under there right down down into the belly of
the pec major okay so that’s active self myofascial release do it for about a
minute or two on each side and that’s the first technique to decrease the tone
of these muscles so that the serratus can fire better next up first technique
the shoulder rotation robot now I’ve shown this before and it’s one that I
really like because it trains reciprocal movement of the shoulders which is as
one arm moves the other moves in the opposite direction and then they
alternate between those two okay you tell why it’s robot
all right so that’s a natural pattern what it’s
like walking one arm goes forward the other goes back it’s reciprocal movement
this is creating dynamic stability of the scapula and it trains the serratus
when the arm is down especially okay so here you do want to keep the shoulder
blades down and back go up against a wall heels about six inches from the
wall or so and just abduct the shoulders a little bit like so keep a fist keep
the wrists in neutral and one arms up one arms down so you maintain shoulder
blade position scapular position and then at the end range here I’m still
trying to push my fist down here closer to the wall and I’m driving this fist
into the wall hold for five seconds and then you switch so it go as far as you
can here I could push the fist in the wall here I can’t touch the wall but I’m
still trying to reach it still activating as much as I can make sure
you’re breathing while you’re doing that hold and activation and then you
alternate so the whole time the scapula don’t move you stay in basically a
neutral position when you go into internal rotation the scapula wants to
lift off so when the scapula so this is my right scapula as my right scapula
here when the scapula does that that’s known as anterior tilt anterior scapular
tilt just like the pelvis can tilt the scapular can do the same the serratus is
responsible for posterior tilt of the scapula so when we’re fighting this
anterior tilt of the scapula because we go into internal rotation that’s just an
Associated pattern the serratus fires up to maintain that so it’s saying hey I
don’t want that scapula to move I’m gonna fire it up and hold it there
that’s where your training dynamic Stability of the scapula very important
function okay and that is one of the probably the most important function of
the serratus is not the protraction movement
because we rarely use that it’s just a natural movement but we rarely require
it for activities of daily living support it’s not something that is
really targeted however dynamic stability is required with all shoulder
movements and the serratus is critical to providing that function next
technique one that you’ve probably seen before scapular push up some kind of
variation I’m just going to show you some quick variations from easier to
more difficult so first could be just a four-point position go from protraction control the retraction so it’s like an
eccentric movement of the serratus eccentric contraction the serratus
anterior and then protraction okay so this is really easy four-point
position and go to push-up position then again same thing protraction controlled
retraction so you get that eccentric contraction working okay a little bit
more load now one key when you’re doing any kind of scapular push up is push
through the palm of the heel down here that’s going to help to activate the
scapular stabilizers in general and the serratus a little bit better okay so
you’re not pushing through the fingers you’re pushing through the palm of the
heel one that I like now you can go to one arm as well show you that real quick
obviously more load don’t jump to the more advanced versions
and skip them because if you think they’re better what’s the best technique
is the one that you can do that’s a little bit challenging okay the hardest
one if you can’t do properly you’re gonna compensate with other
muscles and you’re gonna further that dysfunction and one that I really like
kind of the the last in the variations most challenging from a strength and a
complexity standpoint is the scapular step-up so you can use a step
traditional stepper or I’ve got some yoga blocks here spread the feet a bit
wider and the reason why I like this just
it involves a little bit more movement so you’re developing greater control
make sure you’re aligned in the spine okay started off in protraction of the
scapula lift one off controlled retraction and then switch switch your
weight that’s this hand and then go back change sides I can’t roll down switch
your weight and rinse and repeat here hits key continue to push through the
palm of your heel and make sure your elbows stay locked out you’re not
getting tricep we’re not trying to work the triceps we’re trying to keep the
arms straight to isolate the movement at the scapula yeah so those are some
scapular push-up variations ending off with the scap step up which is one that
I really like okay so that is how many techniques active self myofascial
release robot push-ups now we’ve got overhead roll out so overhead rolled out
another one of my favorite techniques this is gonna train that dynamic
stability of the serratus and integrate it with shoulder flexion so go into the
overhead position as well as neutral spine core stability what you want to do
just find the wall hands on the wall and if you have an ab wheel this is
great but if not you just put your hands on the wall as long as you can slide a
bit now maintain neutral of the core and then slide up and as you go up you’re
leaning towards the wall and allowing the scapula to upwardly rotate it’s
elevate and protract at the top hold briefly a couple seconds make sure
you’re breathing and then back down okay again maintain stability
well now the scapula to go through their full range training good scapula
humoralism hold breathe briefly up here let’s get some mobility and back down
okay so there you have well five techniques kind of like four techniques
if you count all the scap push up and then the scap step up as one grouping
but five serratus anterior exercises to hit the different types of functions
different functions of the serratus anterior so that’s dynamic Stability of
the scapula that is protraction controlling protraction retraction and
that is dynamic stability dynamic control in the overhead movement the
shoulder flexion movement okay so that there you have some great techniques to
use many you’ve probably never seen before and all that will help not only
your serratus anterior function properly but your whole shoulder girdle work
better to give you more stability better control greater mobility as well and
just shoulders that are healthier and move the way that they’re supposed to
okay so if you like this video you might want to check out and if you have
scapular issues or shoulder issues I highly suggest you check out my shoulder
control course I’ll throw the link on at the end of this video otherwise do these
exercises benefit from them and maybe give me a thumbs up and subscribe
whatever do what you want alright see you next time peace

54 thoughts on “5 Unique Serratus Anterior Exercises for Strong & Stable Shoulders

  1. No way in hell I can do the robot, maybe more success if I am lying down.
    I might just stick to a fitness ball, a lot less pain.
    My biggest issue seems to be internal and external rotation, which in turn causes pain in almost all movements of the shoulder with any load.

    I'll see how fitness ball and thoracic mobilisation helps, as i get literally no pain while doing them and my shoulders alway feel a bit more free, also that nagging upper trap and supraspinatus don't seem to burn, ugghh!

  2. Great Vid..thank you…How many reps for the Shoulder Rotation Robot, and how long to hold each time? Cheers

  3. hi nice post..I have bad joints n stenosis in my neck n lower back, looking for exercise s I can do low impact,get pain into left shoulder blade,scapula any help be nice. need to keep it moving….

  4. What about standing overhead press and shrugging at the top? It is similar to the last exercise and allows the scapula to upward rotate. This is the only movement I can feel my serratus working and sometimes I get sore. Knocking sounds in the shoulder while making circles decreased dramatically so I think that my shoulder is more stable now. That said my winging hasn‘t decreased yet.

    I‘m 23 years old, having scapula winging for a long time, because of the reasons you mentioned in the beginning. Working with the above mentioned exercise against the circumstance for a year now.

    How long do I approximatly need to train to reduce the winging?

  5. I'm a master's swimmer with L frozen shoulder. Excellent explanation. These exercises should help. Thank you. 🏊

  6. I love this channel! Just found it. Now I’m totally going to be that guy.. is it best to let the scraps move freely during face pulls and body weight rows? I’m really having trouble getting an answer

  7. Very informative Eric, Thank you. I have a question for you. I had rotor cuff surgery 10 years ago and now I cannot bring my affected side arm up to 90 degrees upwards like in your robot exercise. I can easily push it to 90 with my other hand but it springs back to about 80 degrees. ha… My other arm is capable of moving to a hundred degrees or better. Do you have any idea what's going on there? I am still very weak on my affected side but I am retired and am only now trying to figure out what happened. I did a lot of compensating during my last few years as a carpenter. Choking up on the one-handed sledgehammer stake driving and such. Thanks and God bless.

  8. Great video. I could really use your advice. I teach about postural distortions at UCSB and have a group of student interns who I train to carry our postural assessments and then take that person through what they should be doing to correct their issues. I live and breathe this stuff but I also take private clients on the side. I have a client with all the classic dysfunction of the kinetic chain. She has severe over-pronation of the feet, knee valgus, anterior pelvic tilt, severely flared ribs, and severe forward head posture. When I say severe, I mean it’s bad. It would be one thing if she had one or two main issues but with her, they all seem like they should be treated as a primary concern. My normal approach consist of 3 things. 1. Stretch /release tight dominant muscles, 2. activate and strengthen weak under-active muscles, and 3. integrate the newly activated muscles into the body’s movement patterns.
    That has always served me well but in this case, it’s hard to know where to start. It’s kind of like the situation of the chicken and the egg…which came first?I’ve been focusing mostly on correcting her feet and core (trans abd). I’m hoping that by working out those problems, her rib flare and upper body will kind of follow suit. (She has a lateral pelvic tilt as well but it’s not as urgent). I make sure she’s stretching her pecs and Lats everyday along with upper traps, scalenes, and SCM and have her doing chin tucks, but most of the corrective exercise is focused on her core and feet. However, she has zero mobility in her thoracic spine and she can’t protract her shoulder blades. When I cue her to close her ribs or pull them down, her head juts forward and her upper traps kick in to pull her shoulders up (basically it’s hunchback posture). When I have her pull her head back, her ribs flare up again. It’s involuntary- like they’re connected. This is apparent during any standing exercise when I try to get her to active her transverse or anytime she’s moving her arms. The one time I tried to get her to do a push-up on her knees, it was so excessive that I changed to a different exercise all together and am not comfortable having her do anything in the prone position including planks. The only other time I’ve seen something like this was a student who came in for an assessment. Her feet turned out and when I asked her to point them straight ahead, it made her knees cave in. Then i had her correct the knees, and her feet immediately turned out again.
    I’d love to get some feedback from you because I really want to help her but she has very limited body awareness and I don’t want her to feel like I’m picking on her the entire time. She speaks very limited English as well which makes things so much harder. I’ve been using google to translate to Chinese for some of the most important cues but can’t do that the entire session. Ugh. Help. Please.

  9. Good exercises and good advice. Thanks. If people don’t want to listen to the rather long introduction, they can go to 5:06 where the exercises start. Hey Coach, you really need to work on your high left shoulder and get even.

  10. Super helpful video, I've had discomfort in that area for so long due to carrying heavy backpacks and squeezing my shoulder blades too much. You explained so perfectly and all my questions have been answered.

  11. Love your content Eric. However, one thing in this video drove me nuts; it should technically be “heel of the palm”.

  12. came here expecting a few exercises for a muscle – what i got was an entire explanation of problems and fixes, activation and control 😀 im very happy right now 😛

  13. I tried some of the exercises and because of my scapular winging on one side i cant keep my shoulder blade down and back. I feel the muscle engading on the non winged side but not the winged side. Any suggestions?

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