The serratur anterior

(M. serratus anterior)


The M. serratus anterior is a skeletal muscle of the trunk and belongs to rear group of chest and shoulder girdle muscles. Its name (serratus = serrated/dentate) is owed to its serrated origin on the ribs.
The serratur anterior goes from chest to back and forms a characteristic pattern looking like a row of sawteeth. Parts of the M. serratus anterior are covered by pectoral muscle and are not visible on body surface.
The muscle is also known as boxer's muscle. It is always in use for boxing and therefore it is very marked for these sportsmen.

The muscle of sawtooth-shape can be divided in three parts: upper (pars superior), middle (pars intermedia), and lower (pars inferior) part.
All parts move and tilt the shoulder blade, pull it towards the body and move it away from the body. Functions allow upward moving of arm, via horizontal and backwards to the back.
When arms are rested and shoulder blades are fixed, the muscle supports inhaling, because ribs are lifted by it.
Usually, the saw muscle has ten spikes originating from 1st to 9th rib. The number of spikes surmounts the number of ribs, where they originate, because two spikes mostly originate from 2nd rib on.

The base of the M. serratus anterior goes from surface of shoulder blade situated to centre of the body (Margo medialis).

Paralyzation of muscle would cause an inside bending of shoulder blade (Scapula alata). The result is winglike protruding of shoulder blades from the trunk.



M. spinalis

M. serratus anterior (pars superior)



1st to 2nd rib

Base: Angulus superior (upper corner of shoulder blade)

lifts shoulder

M. serratus anterior (pars intermedia)



2nd to 3rd rib

Base: central edge of shoulder blade

pulls shoulder blade towards abdomen

M. serratus anterior (pars inferior)



4th to 9th rib

Base: Margo medialis (longest edge) and Angulus inferior (lower edge) of shoulder blade

swings angulus inferior outwards and makes lifting over an angle of 90° to vertical possible




Exercise examples



Dumbbell pull-overs



Course of motion:

  • Back position on flat bench
  • Place feet flat on the floor or on leg roller
  • Hold arms slightly vertically bent over the chest
  • Place dumbbell with upper weight plates on palms
  • Thumbs and forefinger grasp the handle
  • Tense trunk muscles and lower arms down behind the head until you feel strong stretching in chest muscles
  • Start controlled counter motion
  • Return slowly dumbbell to starting position
  • Keep muscle tension


  • Exhale while lowering the weight
  • Inhale while moving upwards

Advices of proof:

  • Avoid complete stretching of arms
  • Slow course of motion
  • Adapt weight to training level
  • Keep spine completely on weight bench while doing the exercise
  • Breathe regularly


  • Pull-overs with weighted ball
  • Pull-overs with barbell
  • Pull-overs with bench placed across
  • Pull-overs with Thera-Band


Barbell shoulder press on incline bench
(Barbell incline shoulder press) Langhantel-Schulterpresse


Course of motion:

  • Adjust weight bench to 45 to 60°
  • Place in back position on the bench
  • Place soles of foot stable on the floor
  • Hands grasp barbell shoulder-width apart in upper grip
  • Arms are stretched and vertical to the floor
  • Weight is slowly pushed upwards out of shoulders and lowered without putting shoulders completely down
  • Maximum possible extent of motion out of shoulders
  • Keep tension


  • Exhale while pushing weight upwards
  • Inhale while lowering the bar

Advices of proof:

  • Arms remain stretched
  • Torso rests on the backrest of the bench
  • Slow course of motion
  • Adapt weight to training level
  • Breathe regularly


  • Shoulder press with dumbbells
  • Shoulder press with weighted ball


Note: Strengthening the M. serratus anterior reduces risk of shoulder injuries and increases power for bench press. Use different training equipment for varied and motivating workouts to exercise the saw muscle. Use training equipment like, i.e.:




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