If you want to get in touch with your Serratus Anterior and really feel the way it helps integrate your whole magnificent muscular core, Mega Plank is absolute perfect Yoga Tune Up® pose for you to practice.  Not only will it prepare you for every Chatturanga, arm balance, and Downward Dog you will attempt in your career as a yogi, but it will also make you a fabulously impressive Pilates pupil.  Honestly, any Pilates instructor who saw you do this pose the Yoga Tune Up® way would be so flabbergasted and impressed by your precision and strength, she would want to marry you! (or something).

Here’s how to do it:

The forearms are parallel to each other, shoulder-distance apart. Shoulder sockets are vertically joint-stacked over elbows. Body is stiff as a solid board, while belly inflates slightly to ignite the abdominals into full tension.

Megaplank with Active Serratus will strengthen you from armpit to pelvis!

To activate the serratus anterior, protract the shoulder blades by pushing the ground away while the upper back hunches, then depress the shoulder blades as if pulling a window shut while the arms remain pinned to the floor.

Maintain all actions at once. Hold for about 30 seconds.

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Najla Said

Najla Said was born with a lot of energy. Constantly searching for a place to channel it, she tried every sport/dance/activity that was made available to her as a young child, only to discover early on that the ones she enjoyed the most and seemed to excel at (dance, gymnastics, yoga, and running) were destroying her extremely hypermobile body. While studying acting in New York City in 1996, she was advised by her teachers to try Pilates, Alexander Technique and martial arts in order to build the strength and stamina she would need for a career on stage. After 8 years of private sessions and countless classes, she was certified to teach Classical Pilates in 2004 and has been constantly teaching and learning since. Having attempted to return to yoga safely with her Pilates knowledge in the past few years, she found she wanted to know more, and naturally gravitated toward Yoga Tune Up®, in which she was certified in 2012. Her memoir, "Looking for Palestine: Growing Up Confused in An Arab-American Family" will be published by Riverhead Books (a division of Penguin) on August 1, 2013.

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Gloria LoCurto

Love this pose! Thanks for recognizing the Serratus Anterior – I feel like it gets left out of the conversation a lot. Great clear picture of how to do this Yoga Tune Up® properly. It’s amazing how something like plank can be done so many different ways just by putting the emphasis in different muscles or by cueing a push/pull isometric contraction.

Samara

Great article on this pose and wonderful vocabulary (shutting the window)! Activating my tubular core in this posture has been essential to gain stability. I also like to repeat the protraction (and depression) several times throughout the hold to continue building up on the movement.

Melody

I love a pose that kills many birds with one stone – strengthening me from armpit to pelvis! This is very helpful in building up strength for those that practice Chatturanga and Downward Dog.

Kris Killian

did this in my YTU TT today and i love love love it! what was brought to our attention was to be careful to not flex the spine as you protract the shoulders – i found that to combat that i combine the protraction of shoulders with lengthening my sternum forward.

Alfredo Figueroa

The more I study, the more I realize how shoulder strenght and health is deeply related to the core strenght and health. This is definately a posture that will help both to work in harmony.

Bonnie Chiong

As someone who has had recurrent shoulder dislocations, Megaplank has been one of the YTU poses that have helped me regain strength and stability in the shoulder girdle without having to go the surgical route! Awareness and activation of the Serratus Anterior has been a godsend in my rehabilitation. My shoulder-to-core-to-pelvis relationship has also been brought to light!

Lauren Roden

I’ve been loving working with serratus anterior lately. Who doesn’t love to rock an arm balance? Having engagement and connection to serratus was the missing piece for me. My favorite poses right now are mega plank and body surfing!

Jaro

Activating and conditioning my serratus anterior improved my plank pose and strengthen my core for all arm balances, especially hand stand. Serratus anterior is definitely a neglected or underused muscle. Now I am using it in every Chatturanga! Saves your shoulder sockets, too!!

Suncana

Who knew serratus anterior did so much! I will definitely be working more with it!

Chelsea Vickers

This pose can really help to gain so much core awareness I really appreciate your explanation. The proprioception of the back of the body is enhanced with the firing of the serratus anterior. It has really helped me stay out of my banana back while in plank. Also, staying off the wrists is a great way to channel more energy into developing the core.

Kate

I love teaching this pose as it can be modified with knees down without losing any of the directions of movement or engagement of targeted muscles. A tubular core is still needed to avoid an over-extention or over-flexion in the spine, and the shoulders are still engaging in a strong depression or protraction. This pose is so beneficial and a great way to fire up all muscles in the torso!

Ben Pace

I have never felt my serratus anterior before this pose. wow, its a strong feeling..

Jenny

I can’t wait to break it down this way for students and address all the dumping in the low back as well how to stabilize the shoulder.

Rita

The active verbs of pushing, pulling, and pinning for descriptions of protracting scapula, depressing shoulder blades, and closing this chain are really helpful for finding that sometime elusiive serratus. This in connection to that solid board core gives my plank a new life.

Jimmee Greco

Thank you for making the connection between this pose and so many other common poses seen in yoga classes. Great how-to! I will definitely be incorporating this pose into my classes.

Melinda

Great description … thanks!

Sonja

Awesome description! Thank you!

Dawn

Perhaps due to a lack of core strength, I usually tend to shy away from planks, especially when preceded with “mega”. However, after having felt the strength of my serratus anterior, and learning how important it is, I am loving this pose. It helps me in so many other poses and transitions in a yoga class, and has taught me how to stabilize my shoulders in poses like chaturanga and downward dog. I may also have a crush on the serratus anterior, too.

Katy Forline

Thanks for the visual PNF descriptions. I’m a visual learner so these really help me understand the DOM concept required. Pulling down a window so clear! It really gets the serratus engaged for me. Probably because I have really old sticky windows 🙂

Deepa Dravid

Thanks! Very helpful description to activate the Serratus Anterior muscles

Jessica

Yes. Beautiful pose.

Amanda

I have been have problems with my shoulder for a while, I just figured I was tight so started to work on lots of flexibiility. It was my physio who mentioned that while my muscles were tight my ligments were weak so I actually needed to strengthen the supporting muscles. Megaplank with active serratus has been great for because not only is it helping to increase shoulder stability it is also strengthening my core – its bang for buck!

Yvonne Duke

Chatturanga is not available to a lot of people…at least proper alignment chatturanga. This pose is a fantastic alternative for those who need to connect to their serratus anterior first. Great post.

Bev Hotchkiss

Stellar exercise! I love the visual of pulling the window shut and the cues on protracting and depressing the shoulder blades. I am definitely going to incorporate this into my own practice for strengthening my serratus anterior.

Thanks!

Kathleen

This is a great pose, thank you. I surf and I teach yoga for surfers workshops – both the core and serratus must be strong and stable for surfers to maneuver while standing and avoid fatigue/injury while paddling – this pose marries the two. I am going to incorporate megaplank with active serratus into my classes and workshops!

Maria

What a fantastic pose! While going through my 200 hour TT program, I was told that my plank could use some improvement – my shoulders would consistently protract, causing a depression between my shoulder blades. This looks like a great pose to practice to build up strength in work on correcting my plank. Thanks!

Morgan Ward

Last month, for the first time in my life I started to have shoulder problems. Turned out it was actually an impingement. I’ve been dancing and doing yoga since I was four years old, so I was confused as to what caused the pain. Just recently, when I learned the proper form for chataranga, plank, and down dog did I find the culprit. A month ago I started practicing at a new studio that emphasized RETRACTING the shoulder blades at all time. I had no clue I was leaving my shoulders so vulnerable, but after Yoga Tune Up Teacher Training,… Read more »

Debi

I am looking forward to incorporating this into my classes. Did this pose today in training and it really helped me find the serratus interior.

Shaina Ferguson

Thanks for introducing this pose! This reinforces what I have just been learning about down dog, high plank, and chatturunga in my yoga teacher training course. Puffing up the space between the scapulae has really helped me realize the proper position to build strength for these poses. I used to sink down. This plank is a great way to build strength and awareness of alignment. Shoulders must be over wrists and the pelvis should not sink down. This is great!!

Meredith Brockriede

Some great tips and cues above from my fellow SF trainees! I love this pose, and fondly (as only hindsight can allow) remember the long forearm plank holds my first teacher would make us sweat through. How much can change in a few years! I still sweat through this one, but by using my serratus anterior to help me connect more strongly to my core (and from there, my legs!) it is a good, whole-body-working hold, not the please-God-make-it-stop, low back sagging kind.

Kristine Tom

When teaching I sometime incorporate the opposing action of what I’m hoping to achieve to illustrate the difference to my students. ie. in this megaplank variation I would start by having then retract the shoulder blades in towards one another and notice how that affects the engagement of the core muscles, weight of their pelvis and relative stabilty of their shoulders and then cue them to do the opposite where they puff up the space in in between their shoulder blades (protraction) to awaken serratus anterior and notice the difference in core and shoulder stability.

Kevyn

I believe cueing to pull your elbows towards your toes would also help with serratus activation, if the arms are properly placed. when I do this action in this pose I feel my serratus turn on.

Yasmen Mehta

As a Pilates instructor, I was sweating through this one! Yi-Hsueh I cue by saying “pretend you are holding a big old phone book under your armpits. I know most folks have no awareness of how to fire the serratus or lats. Nicolette, I think protracting and depressing the shoulders also needs a fair amount of strength, and that will come as one keeps doing it. I had my 85 year old just chat to me while he held my Trail Guide under his arm. It gives them some propprioception before they do the pose. I guess its like giving… Read more »

Leslie Van Schaack

I love the added component the PNF part of this pose gives… and I always love when tune up shows me a pose I *thought * I knew and takes it up a notch. Also, so many people just think of plank as just core contraction, and there is so much more to it and alot of shoulder girdle action. It works so much more than just “abs” and actually helps strengthen the back quite a bit as well (if done well!)

Yi-Hsueh Lu

Hey guys! In this pose the serratus anteriors are strongly activated as they are performing both of their major functions, hugging the shoulder blades to rib cage as well as protraction. The protraction action especially results in the rounded upper back. In poses like Chaturanga and AMS, where we would like to activate the serratus anterior to stabilize the shoulder blades and at the same time maintaining a flat upper back, is there any que that is useful? I am dying to know this for my own practice as well as helping my student to avoid winging their shoulder blades…LET… Read more »

Nicolette

Cool Stuff!

Just this year I learned in a hatha yoga class after 14 years of practicing on & off and my own 200 hr hatha yoga training about tapping into the serratus anterior for downward dog. Completely transformed my practice. Can’t wait to try this so I can really break it down.

Thank you!

Cat

This is a great pose and really . I find this is a good work up to my chaturanga as I still find it challenging to protract and depress the shoulders.

Pam

I love this, but… if it okay to wonder… I would keep functional spine so that I am not using thoracic flexion to achieve this but only upward rotation of the scapula that occurs by first externally rotating the humerus so that the larger turbercle of the humerus slips under the larger space under the acromion … and then using low traps to depress the scapula and then firing the low fibers of the serratus anterior so that the scapula pivots around a “so called joint” and the inferior angle comes around the ribs.

Marla

I used to be a “winger” and found that many of the exercises I would try (i.e. push up plus) were not adequate. It wasn’t until I started shadowboxing that my serratus anterior became stronger and my winging diminished. I like this megaplank as it incorporates all of the actions of the serratus anterior muscle – which makes it very effective in isolating and strengthening it. Thanks for sharing!

Stephanie Fish

Great post and awesome how you can marry your Pilates training with YTU. I also love the “window shut” action and clear description of the pose.

Alex Ellis

Mega Plank with Active Serratus is one of my favorite YTU Poses! I always find it so challenging, as the linkage between upper and lower bodies can be very murky at times. I agree that it is the perfect pose to complement Pilates, Yoga, or any movement practice! Scapulae belong on your back, not winged out to the side =)

Tracy L

Wow! What great descriptive to activate the serratus anterior by depressing the shoulder blades as if pulling a window shut. That’s so accessible and I can’t wait to use this and share this! Thanks!

Lori Gunnell

This is an awesome variation that take plank pose to a whole new level. I look forward to incorporating it into my practice and sharing it with students. Thanks you for the protraction retraction tip to engage the Serratus Anterior!

Nicole Quibodeaux

As a yoga and Pilates teacher, I see so many “wings” in public classes, that by using this pose to help not only educate how the serratus works but to also strengthen the serratus anterior to build healthy planks, chatturangas and push ups!

Jenny Buchanan

Thank you Najla, I am a beginning student of YTU – just 2 hours in and even with my lower back in spasm I tried a modified verso of this and found it definitely awakened my serratus as well as working my core and broadening my chest. I look forward to making it part of my daily routine. no doubt but that this will help in teaching of safe Chatturanga, arm balance, and Downward Dog s.

Alison Lloyd-Nijjar

I have found mega plank to be especially helpful to me and my students to connect arms/shoulders to core. Boom! Instant power. From YTU training i now understand the degree of pronation (and depression) needed to hunch the upper back and engage those serratus muscles to reach the bottom tips of the shoulder blades down into the floor.

Katherine

For some reason I find it very hard to find the serratus anterior engaging in poses other than chaturanga, but with Amanda’s help at training today found that engagement in this pose and immediately started to shake! Following the cues for the appropriate directions of movement in the shoulders, what really did it for me was her suggestion to imagine pulling the mat towards me, or to imagine trying to extend the arms without actually doing it. Yup. There it is!

Lisa S

What an awesome exercise! Activating the serratus ignited the pose for me, allowing me to feel more balanced energetically. I can’t wait to use these cues when teaching – YES – no more droopy back! Used to suggest “energetically hugging (adducting the inner arms” because I felt it helped lift the upper spine. Now I realize I was trying to achieve this – it’s much clearer to me now, thank-you.

Katie Fornika

Najla – I love the visual of pulling the window shut! For years I thought I had a strong and integrated plank…..until I tried this variation! Wow, no more droopy back, my core feels like it is participating so much more with this activation. Thanks to my serratus and to you for sharing!

Roselea Moran

This is such a great pose I teach it and when the yogis feel it and feel the effects they love it too. I have not cued belly inflating to activate the abdominals, will give that a try. thanks for this very succinct post Najla