Get That Added “Punch” In Your Swing

Written by Kyle

Up until now, I’ve spent a lot of time talking about major muscles and muscle groups, ones that most of you have already heard of : glutes, pecs, abs – you get the picture. Today I would like to bring to your attention a lesser known muscle that is just as important as the others in terms of developing power and improving your golf swing. This muscle is called the Serratus Anterior and it runs from your top 8 ribs, attaching to the under part of your scapula (shoulder blade). As such, it functions primarily as a protractor of the shoulder blades, pulling them forward around the ribcage, which is why it’s often referred to appropriately as the “boxer’s muscle”. While your pectorals help you get your arms out in front or across your body, the serratus moves the scapula around your sides and really allows you to follow-through your target. It also allows you to raise your arms overhead and is integral in stabilizing your scapula while moving your arms. Hopefully this is starting to give you an idea of why it’s such a functional muscle in your swing so let’s take a look in greater detail.

The serratus anterior is active throughout your entire swing and is actually the most or second most active upper-body muscle in all phases of your swing except the early follow-through. In the back swing, the front arm serratus protracts and elevates that lead scapula allowing for a nice, long backswing. At the same time, the serratus of the back arm is getting stretched and loaded, contracting powerfully to contribute to the downswing and acceleration of your club towards the ball. In your follow-through, the front arm serratus also plays the role of decelerator, helping to slow down the arms through eccentric (lengthening) contraction. Because of their huge contribution and activity in your swing, they are one of the most commonly injured muscles in golfers because of the repetitive nature of the game. The front arm serratus is particularly susceptible to injury due to the sheer speed of the swing they are responsible for slowing down. So it is not only important to get and keep this muscle strong for power in your swing but also to stay healthy.

If you’re someone who has trouble doing push-ups or lifting your arms overhead, chances are you are not effectively activating your serratus anterior. Luckily, there are a number of simple exercises that can remedy this and get them firing. Any movements that involve pushing your arms out in front of you will do the trick. This means push-ups, planks and chest presses. Just make sure that you push as far in front as possible (think about stay “tall” through the back of your shoulders and really trying to wrap your shoulder blades around to the front of your ribcage). Overhead presses will also help strengthen the serratus in their action of rotating the lower part of your scapula outwards. Take a look at the video on this page for an exercise that really emphasizes the “punch” function of the serratus and synchronizes with the hips and torso in a similar way as your golf swing.

The Serratus Punch

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