{video} Alternate Vinyasa Series- Serratus Push-Ups

I love creating alternate variations of the vinyasa that keep us moving and flowing, but don’t ask our bodies to make the same shapes over and over again. This video combines a few things:

  1. A short explanation of protraction and retraction of the scapula and why it might be interesting to look at with your private clients.
  2. A demonstration of the progression I use to teach serratus push ups.
  3. An example of how to change up “the vinyasa” in a way that allows for rhythmic movement AND brings an under used part of our shoulders along for the ride!

Let me know in the comments below if this all makes sense and if you have any questions!

14 Responses to “{video} Alternate Vinyasa Series- Serratus Push-Ups”

  1. Raquel Scalon

    Hi Francesca – this serratus push ups are so much fun! Question: my understanding is that when we retract the blades in plank we’re actually disengaging the serratus anterior – is that accurate, or did I get it wrong? 🙂 Thank you!

    Reply
    • Francesca Cervero

      Hi Raquel! Oh good, I’m glad you like them! The serratus anterior mostly protracts and stabilizes scapula as well as assists in upward rotation (depending on whether we are talking about the superior or inferior fibers). It is my understanding that the rhomboids are mostly responsible for retraction of the scapula, but from my perspective I wouldn’t quite say the serratus “disengage” in retraction because they will do different things in different bodies in different tasks. There used to be a theory that if you contract the muscle on one side of a joint the muscle on the opposite side turns off or disengages, but I think that as a black and white rule has been mostly disproven. Does that make sense?

      Reply
  2. Robin

    Thanks so much for sharing this perspective on shoulder work. I find it very helpful and useful for myself and for my students.

    Reply
  3. Rheannon Blount

    I’ve been putting this into my classes after I learned it in physical therapy for a dislocated shoulder. I found that it was a movement missing from my practice and that I had missed the general importance of shoulder blade movement. It’s really changed my body and practice. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  4. Jenn Carter

    I am wondering how you suggest syncing the breath to movement when just doing the serratus pushups. Like do you suggest inhaling as you retract/ your chest moves toward the floor and exhale as you protract and round a bit? Like cow/cat?

    Reply
    • Francesca Cervero

      This is a great question Jenn, and guess what? I usually try to cue it lots of different ways! The way you describes makes a lot of sense AND, because teaching the difference between spinal flexion and extension (cat/cow) and protraction and retraction, I sometimes also teach the opposite breath…so exhaling in the retraction and inhaling in the protraction. ALSO: I sometimes teach it a bit faster so both retraction and protraction all happen on the exhale. I might not do all those things in the same class because it can be confusing for people, but I will offer all those different ways of syncing breath and movement in general so people get lots of movement variety! Does that make sense?

      Reply
  5. Nic Moy

    Thank you, so clearly explained. I have started including this into my classes, sitting, at the wall and in the ‘cat’ position. I like the idea of including this into the vinyasa. Most of my students are not strong enough to perform chaturanga & this is a beneficial alternative. Thank you for your videos. I find them a great resource to support me on my teaching journey.

    Reply
    • Francesca Cervero

      You are so welcome, I’m so honored to be on this path with you! Working with this action at the wall is a great idea!

      Reply
  6. Lily

    Hi Francesca,
    Thanks for sharing this! I have found, in my own body, that shoulder blade retraction can be particularly tricky. I often feel/notice a crunching when I perform retraction and so I try not to do it while putting any weight on my upper body. Due to my personal experience, I haven’t felt safe teaching students to retract their shoulder blades while in all fours or plank. From your video it looks like I need to be practicing this action while sitting or standing until I build the strength to perform it while weight bearing. This will also give me the confidence to explore this action more with my students. Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply
    • Francesca Cervero

      You are so welcome! And yes, I definitely recommend you regress this exercise and avoid any weight bearing until you feel more stable in this action. If you wanted to add a little bit of weight/resistance you could do it standing with your hands pressing into the wall. Once that feels good you could progress it by walking your feet away from the wall a little bit, the same way you might with wall push-ups. Does that make sense?

      Reply
      • Lily

        Yes! Thank you. That’s a great idea — using the wall and progressing into wall push-ups. I think that will also be a great option for many of my students!

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