The Top 5 Serratus Anterior Exercises To Sculpt Those Abs

Serratus Anterior ExercisesI wanted to share with everyone the best serratus anterior exercises you can do at home to help make those abs you’ve been working hard on to look their best. The muscles that frame the abs, like the obliques, are just as important to develop as the actual six-pack muscles.

The good thing here is that a whole lot of equipment isn’t needed. Just a few light dumbbells, since we’re not looking to add volume here, or your own body is good enough to make these muscles accentuate the abdominals.

One of the serratus anterior’s main purposes is to help with shoulder movement. The muscle runs from the rib cage to underneath the shoulder blades, or scapula, and pulls the shoulder down as well as moving it forward or upward.

(Photo: AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker)

How to Get Your Abs Looking “Tight”….


Here’s my drill-down of exercises that’ll help you get your abs looking chiseled and cut. You don’t have to do them in the specific order I’ve listed them in—I only numbered them based on their effectiveness in my own workouts.

I do want to stress that you’ll want to use lighter weights for these exercises. Since our targeted muscles are not of the larger set, like the pecs for example, we want to keep from putting too much stress on this smaller set of muscle.

1. Pullovers - This is perhaps, out of all the other serratus anterior exercises, the most discussed exercise for getting the best results when aiming to craft the ribbed-look over your rib cage. While the Lats are the main muscle being worked here, the serratus is meant to act as a stabilizer, and could be a good starting point to warm up the muscle. To do these, lie on a bench while holding a pair of dumbbells or a single db cupped in both hands. To perform one repetition hold out the dumbbell over your body and lower it down past your head. Once you feel the stretch in the ribs, bring it back up to the starting position.

2. Serratus Pushups - The starting position is similar to the standard plank, with your weight resting on the forearms and toes. Drop your body toward the floor, as if you were doing a pushup, but make sure the shoulder blades angle into each other. Push with the elbows to arch the upper part of your back. The shoulder blades will pull apart and activate the serratus anterior in the process.

These can also do this against a wall. With the arms extended, perform the same movement as above to stimulate the shoulder girdle.

3. Dumbbell Press - While lying on a bench, hold a dumbbell straight over the body and press forward, or up in this case, so the shoulder blades get raised just off the bench, or floor if you don’t happen to have a bench.

4. Overhead Press - This is one of the more potent of the serratus anterior exercises because it will also help to stimulate other muscles at the same time.

This isn’t too much of a complicated exercise. But some tips to help perform this lift correctly would be to grip the barbell with the hands near to two inches wider than your shoulders—to reduce shoulder and wrist strain—and keep your head tilted back slightly so the bar can pass without you getting punched in the face.

5. Serratus Crunches - It’s best to do these while lying on the floor. While holding a set of dumbbells, just as you were going to do the dumbbell press, perform a crunch. Make sure you keep your arms parallel to the ceiling, and reach as far as you can. Hold the crunch for at least a couple of seconds, and then return to the starting position.

If you want more of a challenge you can try hanging serratus crunches. These are done by simply gripping a pullup bar and elevating your legs to your sides as much as possible. The side you elevate will contract, while the opposite side will get a good stretch. Alternate from sided to side, and make sure each rep is controlled and not carried through using momentum from the previous rep.

If you’re looking for a more detailed approach to get your abs looking their best, I’ve written a few tips that will help you move beyond the typical six-pack sticking points.

Even though targeting the obliques is important to sculpt a nice set of abs, I think the exercises above are a good starting off point. Simply adding them into your current abdominal routine will get you seeing some pretty stunning results.

But, don’t forget while serratus anterior exercises will help you sculpt your abs, your diet is the most important part in the equation. You’ll need to focus on getting lean before you start hearing all those oohs and aahs.


About the Author

mw 100x100Hey! I'm , and I've setup this blog to prove anyone can get in shape without needing a gym fee. Each article is drawn from my own experiences, expert trainers and bestselling fitness authors. Please feel free to chat me up on FacebookG+ and Twitter. Also, I do reply to every comment...so drop me a line down below.


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32 comments
mysticalcat74
mysticalcat74

What are some good ways to work on the leg muscles that don't require laying on the stomach?

HomeFitnessManual
HomeFitnessManual moderator

@mysticalcat74 Bodyweight squats might sound simple, but they offer a world of benefit when targeting the lower body. From here you can branch out to lunges: forward, backward or side. Any of these should help you give those legs some attention.

mysticalcat74
mysticalcat74 like.author.displayName 1 Like

I am slowly getting back in shape after having my colon removed and put on a permanent colostomy bag.  Would love to get ways to tone and firm up muscles where I don't have to lay on my stomach (which one cannot do with a colostomy bag).  But what I just read is getting me fired up to go to the gym again

HomeFitnessManual
HomeFitnessManual moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

@mysticalcat74 That's so awesome that you're working your way back to get in shape! I'm wishing you all the success in the world. Let me know if I can help you in any way.

-Mitch

omar
omar

speaking out of personal experience i'd say, that boxing and kick boxing are very helpful in shaping your body and getting a ripped abdominal. i bought a punching bag and learnt the techniques on the internet and worked out on it daily, results were amazing. also i've tried crunches with weights and they seem to be quite efficient. another exercise would be carrying a bar like the one for the bench press and carrying it over your shoulders and twisting your upper body, that seemed to work with me. also cardio exercises like jogging are extremely helpful. i too recommend carb-free and fat-free protein shakes as meal supplements if you aim to lose weight

admin
admin

Sounds awesome, Omar. Adding in some boxing method will certainly deliver a full-on body work out. For the abs, have you tried doing windshield wipers from a pull up bar? I like switching between hanging leg lifts and those windshields wipers. If you don't have a pull up bar you can do them on the floor. I recommend add some weight to your barbell to help keep you balanced, and force you other muscles to get fired up as stabilizers. -Mitchell

Joseph
Joseph

There is no such thing as lower abs. Your abs are all one muscle. Your upper abs are shown when you work then out and have a thick abdominal wall. Your "lower abs" are mainly diet. You'll have to get leaner to develop those. I was able to develop them once I stopped focusing on being big. I'm robed now and have a decent amount of an muscle, and I don't kill myself in the gym anymore.

admin
admin

Joseph, I totally agree with you that diet is extremely important for getting to a low enough body fat percentage so the abs are able to shine through. For anyone looking to get the lower abs more defined I recommend planks and leg raises. Sticking with these as the foundation of an ab routine won't specifically speed up the clock, but they will you the results you're after. -Mitchell

Ron
Ron

hey a few months back i was introduced to this circular equipment were you stand on and rotate your body from side to side. i was told it was very good for the abs but after using ive noticed a change in my rib cage and waist. it made them look thinner and now im trying to find workouts to expand my ribcage and make me look wider. now pullovers ive been doing like 75 - 100 reps a day like 2 days a week but i was wondering if theres other workouts for it too or how to speed up the process and if all the workouts here target the rib cage .

admin
admin

Hey Ron, thanks for the question. One way to get a wider look is to stick with training your Lats. DB Pullovers will help give the torso that thickness you're after. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said: “I am convinced that I could effectively expand the rib cage by performing dumbbell pullovers.” Other exercises to hit the back are Pull ups or Pull Downs. Pull Ups are typically what I would hit the back with first (hammering out 3-4 sets done to failure) before moving onto Pull Overs, or the Pull Downs. If your 75-100 reps a day of DB Pullovers aren't cutting it, try speeding up the tempo of each rep. Shortening the rest time between sets can also help. Anywhere between 45-60 secs is a good amount of time to push the muscles toward the right kind of fatigue. Also, I've heard there are specific breathing patterns designed to expand the thorax, yet I've never come across those while training. This might be something I need to further investigate. -Mitchell

Ron
Ron

Thanks a lot for answering, by the way does the weight you have on your dumbells matter much? im using 10 pound DB since im not of a weights type of person i do resistance training and it has helped me a lot more than i thought. Well thanks for answering back ill continue on the pullovers and try the pull ups.

Ryan
Ryan

I don't think pullovers work the serratus anterior at all. In fact, they do the opposite movement. Serratus anterior is a primarily a shoulder protractor. Movements that protract the shoulders are going to hit the SA.

admin
admin

Ryan, There's certainly a bit of controversy attached to how effective pullovers are at working the serratus. So, if this exercise doesn't suit you, there's plenty of others to swap it out with. For instance you could substitute pullovers with an incline shoulder raise. -Mitchell

Toni
Toni

I do pullovers as a substitution for lat pulldowns because I workout at home and had no idea that they hit those particular ab muscles. I always assumed they just worked my shoulders and arms although I do feel the stretch in my ribs. I have the Abs Blueprint and made alot of progress with the exercises in the manual.

admin
admin

Toni, pullovers are awesome. I mainly do them on the days I target the back, but it's good to know I'm getting a bit of development in other muscle groups at the same time. -Mitchell

Raymond
Raymond

hi Ive been working out for a while now and i have my top 4 abs very defined but you can barely see the bottom two for the full 6 pack what should i eat to lower my BF% to get them to come out completely? and how would i get the line in between my abs separating the right from the left? Ive tried these exercises before...

admin
admin

Hi Raymond, it sounds like you're just on the verge of getting that six pack to finally show. The best advice I can probably offer you is to make sure you're getting enough protein each day. It sounds like you already know diet is important to getting ultra lean. The plan I've found to get me the best results is drinking a protein shake right after waking up, and also having another shake for lunch and then eating a small dinner. I also use intermittent fasting to help burn off the last bit of fat levels when needed. Either Eat Stop Eat or Lean Gains are good programs to test out. For adding a bit more definition and size to the abdominal muscles you could try weighted knee raises. This is just one of many exercises that can help you get the look you're after. I usually pair them up with the planks and l-sits as well. I love targeting the abs with isometrics. I know this is a simplified response, so if you're looking for more of a detailed strategy I recommend checking out the free course the Abs Blueprint. It's a wealth of knowledge on how to actually get lean so you can get the six pack you've been working hard on. -Mitchell

samuel
samuel

hi mitchell, that's all you eat/drink for the whole day? it would make sense if you wanna be lean, but my question is, how many protein would be the target for that diet? sam/ph

admin
admin

Sam, the amount of protein you need when on a calorie strict diet depends on your current weight. For the most part, I typically aim for getting around .5 grams of protein a day to each lb of my total body weight. Most people believe if you aren't getting higher amounts of protein per day your muscle mass is simply going to whither away. This isn't true. Even with this lower amount you can still maintain your current muscle size.

Clint
Clint

This is good. But I have some questions. I am a 6'3" 270lb guy who played college football as an offensive lineman. I have been doing hard ab workouts for the past 8 years and have made some incredibly strong abs and when flexing hard can make out the faint outline of them, however my belly fat hides them just enough. So would these workouts shave off the rough 30 lbs I need to lose to see them? Or just make them that much stronger?

admin
admin

Clint, from what I've witnessed over the years is that most guys and gals only seem to focus on one set of ab muscles--namely the rectus abdominis--rather than the entire core. Because this area of the body is a complex make up of many muscles it takes more than a single exercise to make then stronger and ultimately looking better. That's why I wanted to bring a little attention to the serratus anterior exercises. These are just one of the muscles to frame the abs, and they always seem to get neglected more than they deserve. It's important that know there isn't an ab exercise out there that will help to burn off abdominal fat. Spot reduction just isn't a reality. Only a clean diet and the right training plan can help you reach a flatter stomach. It sounds like you already have a good ab routine going. Your next step might be to reel in your diet, if you haven't done so already, and also working in some cardiovascular activities to your exercise plan to help speed up your weight loss progress. I hope that helps a bit. -Mitchell

rafael
rafael

boxing is a really good exercise for the serratus anterior.. actually,serratus anterior is also known as the boxer's muscle..i used to be an amateur boxer in high school.. so with all the punches thrown,and the cardio, my core,especially my serratus anterior is really ripped..so i can suggest boxing, cardio is intense,arms will get lean though if you're afraid to lose size in your arms..

admin
admin

Rafael, I'm on your side. Besides how fun a boxing workout can be when compared to a traditional weight lifting routine, you can put on serious, functional muscle in the process. I've gotten to hang out with a few professional boxers in the past, and their training is intense. It's a sight to be seen. -Mitchell

Vicain
Vicain

Can a girl do such workouts? Basically, a girl needed to look good in their outfits, so, are those workouts that u mentioned can be applied to both gender?

admin
admin

Vicain, These exercises are not gender specific. Anyone can do them. If you're interested in getting a firm look to the midsection, I suggest targeting the entire core, and not just the rectus abdominis (the six-pack muscles). Adding in exercises that hit the serratus anterior and oblique muscles will help you show-off all the effort you've been putting into the abs. -Mitchell

Srdjan - Bloom to Fit
Srdjan - Bloom to Fit

Good stuff Mitchell. I'll have to give the Serratus pushups a try I've never heard of those. As for the above comment, even reverse crunches won't work if you have that layer of fat covering it. Six packs are made in the kitchen!

admin
admin

Srdjan, For anyone really looking to get a six pack, you're absolutely right: they are made in the kitchen. You can do a wealth of ab exercises, but if you don't blast the visceral fat off the abdomen with the right combination of diet and exercise, then it's never going to happen.

Justin Mazza
Justin Mazza

The abs were never a strong point for me but I was able to create a 4 pack once. It's those lower 2 stomach muscles that have been the hardest to achieve for me.

admin
admin

Hi Justin, There are specific exercises to target the lower abs(e.g. reverse crunch). But getting lean is a crucial step to getting cut abs. Without doing that the abs will be hidden by a layer of fat. And that's no good. -Mitchell

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