The Complete Guide: Sore Serratus Anterior After Bench Press

April 8th 2019

The bench press is one of the most important and crucial upper body exercises that can help you in many ways. It is done mainly for increasing the strength and stability of your upper body. There are many muscle groups that are targeted when you are performing the bench press. These are deltoids, biceps, triceps, latissimus dorsi, quadriceps, and serratus anterior muscles. Among all these muscles, serratus anterior muscles are worked thoroughly in the bench press. If you are worried about whether or not your serratus anterior is sore after bench pressing, you are not the only one thinking about this. This is one of the most asked questions.

Sore Serratus Anterior After Bench Pressing?

Yes, you can experience soreness in your serratus anterior while performing the bench press. But this soreness is nothing serious and will gradually heal on its own. The soreness is proof that the exercise is benefiting that group of muscle perfectly and helping to get toned down. However, since it is a shoulder stabilizer, you need to make sure your shoulder stay retracted and that you are not performing shoulder protractions during the top of the bench press.

The bench press is probably the most utilized exercise accepted universally for increasing the strength and stability of the upper part of your body. When performing this exercise, the serratus anterior muscle can be affected.

Serratus anterior muscle plays a vital role to build a strong and perfect upper body that looks great and toned. So, you need to make sure that this muscle is properly toned. The best way to make sure that the bench press doesn’t make your serratus anterior muscle too sore or painful is by making it stronger.

There are many ways by which you can strengthen this muscle to ensure no more soreness or pain while performing the bench press. Sometimes too much of weights can also cause soreness and pain while you are doing bench press.

How bench press targets the serratus anterior muscles?

One of the functions of the serratus anterior muscles is to pull scapula forward, similar to that of throwing a punch. When you bench press, these muscles work to do a controlled punch in front of your body with the barbell in your hands.

The bench press uses several muscles while performing but the muscle which is targeted is the serratus anterior muscles that are located on either side of the chest. Of course, you will notice that whenever you do bench press, there is a pressure on both sides of your chest. This is where the serratus anterior muscles are. It fixes the shoulder blades to your ribs. Thus, whenever you lift a heavy bench press, this muscle is responsible to lift the weight up. This can cause soreness in the serratus anterior as well as in your shoulder. But if your muscles are strong and stable enough to lift the weight up and back again, then this muscle can get toned and get better.

What is serratus anterior?

The serratus anterior is a group of muscles that originate from the 1st rib to the 8th rib at two sides of the chest. It is also known as the ‘boxer muscle’ which helps a lot in performing different types of exercises. It is a fan-shaped muscle which is located at the lateral wall of your thorax. The main function of the serratus anterior muscle is to allow your arms to move forward and back smoothly. It also helps the proper placement of your shoulder. When you are lying down on something, the serratus anterior muscle helps to push something upward with your arms. Thus, you can lift items over your head with the help of this muscle group. So, when you are doing bench press, you can lift the bar with the weights easily.

Relationship of serratus anterior to other muscles

The serratus anterior muscle is superficially linked to some of the major parts such as latissimus dorsi and subscapularis. It is also connected to subclavian and auxiliary vessels. The contraction of the serratus anterior muscle can draw forward the vertebral border of the scapula. This muscle is directly related to the shoulder and hence whenever you are pushing it forward, it will help you by providing strength. Since it is an important muscle for shoulder stability, it plays a vital role in having a big bench press.

The structure of the muscle is quite fleshy and comes with short aponeurotic fibers. Hence, this muscle group is quite functional and helpful when it comes to upper body workouts. It is related to several muscles of the shoulder and neck. It provides immense strength to your arms and shoulder. Thus, it is very important to keep in strong all the time. Weak serratus anterior can cause many problems while working out. Though there are many exercises that can help you to strengthen the power and stability of serratus anterior, you need to make sure that you are doing it in the right way.

Inactive serratus anterior muscle

When the serratus anterior muscle group is not used properly, it becomes inactive by nature. The inactive serratus anterior muscle can lead to several problems related to your shoulder pain and back pain. This muscle plays a vital role in the functioning of your shoulder muscles and some of your back muscles as well. So, you cannot ignore the muscle group.

Inactivity of this muscle group can lead to several problems and soreness while working out. You need to make sure that you have a healthy working and strong serratus anterior in order to achieve a healthy and functional shoulder. It also will help you to prevent any type of neck pain and shoulder pain. Inactivity of this muscle group can lead to shoulder and neck cramps and severe back pain when you do exercises. Hence, it is important to warm up the muscle group and keep it active.

Dysfunction of serratus anterior

One of the most common dysfunctions of the serratus anterior is a winged scapula. The serratus anterior can no longer control and stabilize the shoulder blades properly if this condition occurs.

A dysfunctional serratus anterior can be a lead to many shoulder and neck issues in the future. It is critical for shoulder stability and for lifting the arms overhead. You need to keep it properly functional by improving its flexibility, strength, and movement. Whenever you pull something or push something or even lift something, your serratus anterior muscle is working.

Even though you can possibly injure your serratus anterior during a bench press, it is most likely a result of other glaring issues in your should anatomy.

How to strengthen the serratus anterior?

Strengthening the serratus anterior is not only essential to reduce the soreness while performing the bench press. It is also essential to make sure that you have a strong and well-functioning shoulder. Most of the time, the soreness of the serratus anterior can cause other injuries like neck injury and shoulder pain. So, you need to make sure that this muscle is strong enough to perform various upper body exercises without causing any pain or injuries. If your serratus anterior is sore after the bench press, then here are some of the ways that will help you to increase the stability and strength of the serratus anterior:

#1: Planks

Planks can be quite effective to strengthen the entire core of your body. It also has a great impact on the serratus anterior muscle. Doing planks regularly can surely strengthen it and you can utilize the strength for other exercises. Make sure to keep your entire body, especially your core engaged. Otherwise, you are not effectively engaging all your needed muscles.

#2: Pushups

You need to do dead-stop pushups. This will not help you to stretch your upper back but it will also help to activate the serratus anterior properly. This can effectively increase the strength of the serratus anterior muscles present on either side of your chest.

#3: Dumbbell rotational punches

This is another amazing exercise that you can do regularly to strengthen the serratus anterior muscles. You need to do 25 reps on each side to ensure that both sides are getting equal and balanced attention.

Weak serratus anterior muscle can cause severe soreness and pain while performing the heavy bench presses. Thus, it is important to make sure that you have strong and stable serratus anterior so that you can lift the weights smoothly and easily without hurting your chest and shoulder.


So, now you know that a sore serratus anterior after bench pressing may be common if you are doing the bench press for the first time. Hence, it is extremely important to strengthen the serratus anterior muscles properly before the bench press. Regular warm-ups and some exercises, as mentioned above, can help you to improve the strength of the serratus anterior muscles. After strengthening it, you will find it quite easy and smooth to perform the bench press without any problem. But before you start bench press, make sure that you are using the right weight which is perfect according to your body strength and power. You will definitely not want to hurt your neck or shoulder because of heavy weights.

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