The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

Its no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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  1. #1
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    Do pullovers really work the Serratus?

    I realize it's long accepted gym knowledge that pullovers work the serratus muscles. But what I would like to know is, from a kinesiology standpoint, how is this so? I mean, the basic movement of the serratus is to protract the scapulae, right? The only way I could imagine the serratus being activated is if the shoulders are elevated off the bench in the final position of the pullover. Even then, the inferior portion of the scapulae seems to actually retract. If you ask me, the pec minor and the rhomboids would be worked more during a pullover. In fact, the reverse motion of a pullover, a front raise, would actually work the serratus effectively.

    So, is it really just a gym myth or what??

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  3. #2
    Hungry BCC's Avatar
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    I never feel that pullovers work mine. They're always sore after incline BB.
    "As far as drugs were concerned, all my bodybuilding heroes were on everything but roller skates."


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  4. #3
    FREAK IN THA' MAKING!!! duque21's Avatar
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    Try this

    For me and from the opinions that I get form most BB'ers that i talk to that is the pull over movement is what they use the most to stimulate the serratus. One thing I have used to hit the serratus is doing something like a cable crunch, well that what is what it looks like but its not.

    1- grab a rop and put it at the top pulley on a cage.

    2-get down on your knees with the rope in both hands

    3-place you body bent over so that it is in a 45 degree angle in relation to the ground

    4now basically do a pull over by bring the rope down, ending it by hitting the back of your neck.

    I am not sure if I painted a good picture here, but if you get the general idea I am sure you can toy with it and work off the idea.
    Last edited by duque21; 10-27-2002 at 09:27 PM.

  5. #4
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    Right, most bodybuilders I've met do use the pullover or other lat work in an effort to stimulate the serratus. It still doesn't make sense to me though. Exrx has the shoulder raise listed as a serratus isolation exercise: http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...lderRaise.html

    Here's a move I came up with. It isolates the serratus pretty well. I call it the "weighted lat flare". Basically you stand with a light db in each hand, then flare your lats by bringing your scapulae out, making your shoulders "wider" without using your delts at all. Basically it's like a standing lateral raise without any movement of the glenohumeral joint. It helps to lean back a bit an breath in as you raise the weight. If you don't know how to pull your scapulae out, then the weight won't help you learn, so just practice without the db's. There's no point in going heavy with this because it's basically just to help "learn" how to flex the serratus more effectively.

  6. #5
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    tuttut

    Come on now, fellas.. If we're going to get SO excited about other "gym myths" (clavicular pectoral, long and short heads of the biceps), it's only fair to give atleast *some* attention to this one.

    I mean, if I'm wrong here, someone let me know! This is a *very* common misconception (I think. Still waiting for a rebuttal), and I think it deserves atleast a little attention.

  7. #6
    Hungry BCC's Avatar
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    I do incline BB to hit my serratus.
    Last edited by BigChaseyChase; 10-31-2002 at 09:50 PM.
    "As far as drugs were concerned, all my bodybuilding heroes were on everything but roller skates."


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  8. #7
    PR blaster!
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    My serratus is trashed from benching.
    "****, if you told teenagers it was trendy to wear a paper bag on their heads with holes for the eyes they'd all be doing it."

  9. #8
    Senior Member Fudomyo's Avatar
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    I can't find the link (swore it was exrx.net), but there an exercise called a push-up plus. Hop on the incline bench. Pick up BB. Push it up that extra 3 inches with just your shoulders, keeping your arms locked. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    You can easily add a ton of weight over your incline weight. S-O-R-E serratus! It's killer.

  10. #9
    Wannabebig Member tyciol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bong Hog View Post
    If we're going to get SO excited about other "gym myths" (clavicular pectoral, long and short heads of the biceps), it's only fair to give atleast *some* attention to this one.
    What do you mean by gym myths? These muscle variations exist... I don't think it's comparable at all. Pullovers don't seem to include any of the functions that the serratus performs, so it deserves our skepticism as to whether or not they're being hit as opposed to more likely candidates like the pec minor.

  11. #10
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    I don't think it is a prime mover in a pullover, but it certainly would be a stabilizer thus getting some work.


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  12. #11
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Well, this is certainly an old thread, but the answer is YES! If the exercise is performed with a deep inhale on the eccentric and an exhale on the concentric, you'll notice it more, but it is certainly working the serratus regardless.

    edit: Forgive me for using Wikipedia (I know how people love to trash it as a source of info), but it's seems pretty clear to me...

    Quote Originally Posted by Wik
    All three parts described above pull the scapula forward around the thorax, which is essential for anteversion of the arm. As such, the muscle is an antagonist to the rhomboids. However, when the inferior and superior parts act together, they keep the scapula pressed against the thorax together with the rhomboids and therefore these parts also act as synergists to the rhomboids. The inferior part can pull the lower end of the scapula laterally and forward and thus rotates the scapula to make elevation of the arm possible. Additionally, all three parts can lift the ribs when the shoulder girdle is fixed, and thus assist in respiration. [1]
    The serratus anterior is occasionally called the "big swing muscle" or "boxer's muscle" because it is largely responsible for the protraction of the scapula that is, the pulling of the scapula forward and around the rib cage that occurs when someone throws a punch.
    The serratus anterior also plays an important role in the upward rotation of the scapula, such as when lifting a weight overhead. It performs this in sync with the upper and lower fibers of the trapezius.[2]
    Last edited by Sensei; 03-21-2011 at 08:54 PM.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
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  13. #12
    Wannabebig Member tyciol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris mason View Post
    I don't think it is a prime mover in a pullover, but it certainly would be a stabilizer thus getting some work.
    I understand how if someone is spreading their scapulae apart and trying to push the dumbbell very high at the start of the movement (when it is over our chest) that it would be involved in protraction... but aside from that, I'm not sure I understand how it would help stabilize the movement. Would you elaborate?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei View Post
    Well, this is certainly an old thread, but the answer is YES! If the exercise is performed with a deep inhale on the eccentric and an exhale on the concentric, you'll notice it more, but it is certainly working the serratus regardless.

    edit: Forgive me for using Wikipedia (I know how people love to trash it as a source of info), but it's seems pretty clear to me...
    Wait so... the reason it is involved with pull-overs isn't actually due to the movement of the scapulae or arms, but rather the movement of the ribs during breathing? This is an approach I hadn't thought much about... but how do we know it's true? I still don't know much about thoracic shape changes during breathing, I read a bit about the diaphragm tendons in 'Yoga Anatomy' but it's hard to get a grasp on...

    Anyway I'm checking out what you're quoting on wikipedia to see what the references are...
    all three parts can lift the ribs when the shoulder girdle is fixed, and thus assist in respiration.
    Is apparently from "Platzer 2004, p. 144", hopefully I can find this in a public library and maybe there's illustrations to better imagine it.

    Aside from possibly breathing (on which I won't comment as I don't understand it) I can't see the muscle doing much work in the pull-over since there isn't significant resisted protraction or upward rotation. It almost seems like it could serve an antagonist role to help muscles like the pectoralis minor and rhomboids relax, since they are downward rotators.

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