Muscles that you can see in the mirror, for example, the quadriceps, triceps and trapezius, get more attention than the less visible muscles such as the serratus anterior. This muscle extends from the outer eighth and ninth ribs to the border of the shoulder blade area near your spine. Rope pulldown exercises provide a quick and easy workout to strengthen your serratus anterior. Don't worry about getting bigger beneath your armpits like a bodybuilder. The serratus anterior assists the bigger muscles to perform heavy-duty work and cannot easily gain in size. So take a deep breath and start training!
Standing Cable Rope Pulldown
Set the height of the rope of the cable machine to the highest setting. Face the machine and grab each end of the rope with each hand so that your arms are extended in front of you.
Stand with your legs about shoulder-distance apart with your knees slightly bent.
Exhale as you pull your arms toward your sides with your elbows slightly bent. Do not bend your lower back or hunch your shoulders.
Inhale as you raise your arms slowly for 3 seconds to return to the starting position. Perform two to three sets of eight to 10 reps.
- Washington State University, University Recreation: Straight Arm Pulldown
- Trail Guide to the Body: Andrew Biel
- The serratus anterior never functions by itself since it is connected to other muscles in your torso, shoulders and hips by nerves and connective tissues. It is part of the body's spiral line, which is made up of connected muscles, joints and nerves that are responsible for twisting and diagonal movements, according to Anatomy Trains.
- Aside from the rope pulldown, the serratus anterior is also worked during twisting, swinging, pushing and pulling movements. Exercises include the medicine ball wood chop, the cable chest press and the cable row. If you don't have access to a cable machine, do push-ups and pull-ups. Activities that involve punching and striking will also work the serratus anterior.
- Do not exercise if you feel pain in your shoulders or back. Check with your health-care provider before you starting any exercise routine.
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.