The serratus anterior muscle connects the rib cage to the shoulder blade. Looking like “rib muscles” directly under the pectoral muscles and underarms, they complete the shredded look of the midsection and add core strength that complements many athletic movements. There are a variety of exercises that can help develop the serratus, as shown below with examples using a machine, dumbbell, cable or band, and your own body weight.
Pullovers work the serratus muscles, abdominals, back lats, and triceps, as well as help to expand the rib cage.
- To do the exercise with a dumbbell and bench, position yourself on the bench as shown in the video above. Rest your upper back on the bench while your mid-back is slightly arched. Keep your feet flat on the ground with your hips elevated.
- Holding a dumbbell in both hands as shown, slowly lower it behind your head to where your elbows are next to your head. On the pullover motion, slowly raise the dumbbell above your head and over your face, making sure to keep it secure with your hands.
Pullovers can also easily be done at a machine like the one pictured below.
- Simply adjust the seat height, buckle yourself in with the seat belt, and then press down on the foot bar to lower the elbow pads within reach. Be sure to take your foot off of the bar once your elbows are on the pads so that all of the pulling down is done with your torso muscles.
- This machine can work your back lats more intensely if you lower your elbows all of the way to your sides, but to keep the exercise focused on your serratus, only lower your elbows to where your upper arms are perpendicular your chest.
- On the upward motion, raise your elbows up next to your head as far as you can go, then repeat the pull-down.
- If you want to work your triceps as well, or simply want an alternate position, grab the bar with your hands (palms down) and pull down instead of resting your elbows on the pads.
Planking and Push-Up Variations
To work your serratus while doing a push-up, simply do a normal pushup, and then when your arms are straight, continue the movement of your back by rounding it upward. You can also get into a plank position on your forearms to better isolate your core. For this variation, lower your torso to the floor while on your forearms, and then raise it up to the point where you are rounding your back again. The video below (by ATHLEAN-X) shows how these are done:
Push-ups, Planking, and Punching for Serratus Development
Another great way to work the serratus is with cable punches. In the video above, he finishes by showing how to do these punches with a band. They can also easily be done at a cable machine. Simply find a one-hand grip attachment (pictured below), position the attachment at shoulder height, and do the same punches, making sure to follow through all of the way with your shoulder-blade (as emphasized in the video).
One-Hand Grip Cable Attachment
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.