This is your quick training tip, a chance to learn how to work smarter in just a few moments so you can start your training.
If you’re a casual lifter, you probably know all about combining a workout with bicep curls and tricep extensions to strengthen your arm muscles. You’ve probably adopted the weight room’s greatest commandment and never skipped leg day, even moving beyond standard squats to include moves like hip thrusts to target the largest muscle in your body, your glutes. You may even know that crunches alone aren’t the best way to build your six pack—there’s a lot more to a strong-looking core than just the rectus abdominis (even if you don’t know the exact name of the muscle).
But once you get past the casual state, you’ll start to focus on some of the other muscles in your body that will help you build an incredible physique, like the brachialis, vastus medialis, and perhaps the most overlooked but aesthetically pleasing. muscle of all, the serratus anterior.
The serratus anterior is not a huge muscle, especially given how big an impact a well-developed one can have on your overall physique. This is the kind of physical feature that draws attention and makes it clear to the viewer that the subject of their gaze has put in the necessary hours to be strong and fit. Muscle isn’t one you can always spot either; You’ll only be able to show off your serratus anterior if you open up your top and take your shirt off. That said, there are plenty of benefits to training it other than simply achieving a physical goal.
What is the serratus anterior muscle?
If you’ve ever seen a bodybuilder do the classic “front lateral extension” pose (standing tall with chest puffed out and fists on hips), you’ve seen the serratus anterior (SA) rippling just below the armpits. Located on either side of the ribcage, the muscle has a jagged appearance (hence its name), and on particularly chiseled bodies, it resembles a set of fingers that squeeze both sides of the upper torso.
The main function of the SA is to prolong (i.e. push forward) the scapula, like when you throw a punch (which is why it is also known as the “boxer’s muscle”). The muscle also plays a key role in the upward rotation of the scapula, such as when you lift a weight in front of you or push it overhead, and in the elevation of the rib cage when you breathe.
And because it helps stabilize the scapula during arm movements, strengthening it can help reduce the risk of injury, especially in the shoulders.
How to train the serratus anterior
Start giving the SA the attention it deserves in your workouts by performing moves that call it into action, such as scapula flexion, scapula flexion, punching, and any overhead pressing movement.
Do you need more inspiration? Take a look at the six best serratus exercises:
●Band chest press
● Thrust up in neutral
● Iron up
Trevor Thieme is a Los Angeles-based writer and strength coach, and a former fitness editor at Men’s Health. When he’s not helping others get in shape, he divides his time between surfing, skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and trying to keep up with his seven-year-old daughter.
Brett Williams, fitness editor at Men’s Health, is a NASM-CPT-certified trainer and former professional football player and technical reporter who divides his training time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running. He can find his work elsewhere on Mashable, Thrillist and other outlets.
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