Teres major and minor muscle

(M. teres major und M. teres minor)



The M. teres major is a skeleton muscle of the upper arm. This muscle and its small brother, the M. teres minor, are on the back of the body and combine the humerus with the shoulder blade. Despite same name, both muscles have different functions. Due to their different bases on the humerus, they cannot even support themselves, except for adduction in the arm. While the teres major muscle pulls towards via a common end tendon with the M. latissimus dorsi on the front of the humerus, the teres minor muscle is based on the big tuberosity of the humerus head.

Together with the big back muscle (M. latissimus dorsi), the M. teres major does the retroversion, lowering and returning the arm, and rotates it insides.

The M. teres minor is partially covered by its synergist, the M. deltoideus, and stabilises together with other muscles the rotator cuff (M. supraspinatus, M. infraspinatus, and M. subscapularis), the humerus in the shoulder joint. Sometimes, the M. teres minor grows together with the M. infraspinatus (without limitations in motion) - that's why it is very difficult to be felt.


Both together, the teres major and minor muscle limit axillary spaces. These are spaces between muscles in the shoulder offering space for nerves, arteries, and veins.



M. teres major


Origin: Shoulder blade (lower edge; Angulus inferior scapulae)
Base: Front of the humerus
Functions: Retroversion (lowering and returning the arm), adduction, inside rotation



M. teres minor 


Origin: Shoulder blade (outer margin; Margo lateralis scapulae)
Base: Tuberosity on the head of the humerus (Tuberculum majus humeri)

Outside rotation, adduction, stabilization




Exercise examples




Course of motion:

  • Take your position on the seat of the multi-gym
  • Lean the chest against the back upholstery
  • Place feet with knee angle of 90°
  • Hands grasp vertically standing handles (on chest height)
  • Pull handles towards your chest without loosening the torso from the upholstery
  • Bring shoulder blades actively together at the end of the motion



  • Exhale while pulling elbows backwards
  • Inhale while moving forwards


Advices of proof:

  • Complete accomplishment of the range of motion
  • Slow course of motion; avoid taking a swing
  • Bring shoulder blades actively together
  • Tense abdominal and back muscles
  • Hold shoulders down (do not pull them towards your ears)



  • Rowing with dumbbell or barbell on an incline bench
  • Rowing on cable pull (sitting position)
  • Rowing motion with the Thera-Band



Lat pull



Course of motion: 

  • Legs are placed below the leg upholstery (knee angle about 90°)

  • Torso is leant against the upholstery

  • Look straight forward and keep back upright

  • Hands grasp the lat pull bar in upper-grip (thumbs face each other)

  • Grasp a bit wider than shoulder-with apart

  • Lower elbows on the sides of the body and bring shoulder blades together

  • Head is slightly bent forwards and the bar is pulled towards the neck

  • Finish the exercise once the lat pull bar is on heigth of the back of the head

  • Then bring arms completely upwards (keep muscle tension)

  • Keep the trunk tensed while doing the motion



  • Exhale while bending the arms
  • Inhale while stretching the arms


Advices of proof: 

  • Avoid complete stretching of arms

  • Mind the distance of motion (not too short or too long)

  • Adapt training weight to fitness level

  • Slow course of motion

  • Do not snap off the wrists

  • Avoid a space too big of the hands



  • Lat pull towards the chest

  • Lower-grip (thumbs do not face each other)

  • Lat pull with narrow grip

  • Use different grips





Course of motion: 

  • Stand in front of the chin-up bar station looking towards the tower

  • Grasp the handles of the chin-up station with both hands in upper-grip (thumbs face each other)

  • Legs hang loosely downwards and are crossed in the back

  • Slight knee bending is possible

  • Pull the body slowly upwards in a controlled way

  • Motion comes from the arms without taking a swing with the body

  • Bring collar bone/chest towards the handles

  • Stretch the chest upwards and bend torso slightly backwards



  • Exhale while lifting the body

  • Inhale while lowering the body


Advices of proof: 

  • Slow course of motion

  • Maximum possible motion amplitude (without complete stretching of arms)

  • Do not take a swing

  • Tip: use training gloves for protecting hands and bar



  • Behind the neck
  • In lower-grip (thumbs do not face each other)
  • On the lower bar (feet are propped up)
  • Doing the exercise on a door bar or chin-up bar
  • For experienced users: use additional weights, i.e., a weighted vest


Stabilizing and pulling back the shoulder blade towards the spinal column are important functions of both muscles. Create varied and effective workouts for strengthening the M. teres major and the M. teres minor by means of different training equipment. Use the following training accessories:



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