PT on the Net Research

Serratus Anterior Strengthening


Question:

Are the development of the serratus anterior muscles a "byproduct" of exercise in general, or can they be trained specifically? If so, what exercises will specifically develop them?

Answer:

"Are the development of the serratus anterior muscles a "byproduct" of exercise in a general sense or can they be trained specifically?"

The serratus anterior (SA) is involved either concentrically, isometrically or eccentrically in EVERY movement of the shoulder girdle. According to Clark, the SA:

Weakness in the SA alters the normal scapulo-humeral rhythm, leading to synergistic dominance by the upper trapezius and levator scapulae and resulting in glenohumeral impingement and cervical spine dysfunction.

"What exercises will specifically develop serratus anterior?"

Pressing exercises at any angle, especially overhead, will have major concentric involvement of the SA. However, it is vital that optimum functional flexibility and posture be present and maintained at the shoulder girdle when regularly performing these pressing exercises. Over training of the pectorals, specifically the pectoralis minor, can cause excessive scapular protraction and possibly winging. This may feed into upper crossed posture (characterized by rounded shoulders and a forward head), essentially weakening the SA as well as destabilizing the shoulder girdle as a whole.

Reference:

  1. Clark, M. (2001). An Integrated Approach to Human Movement Science. (NASM)