Watching some fight night boxing, what do you notice?
Powerful punches thrown with both hands. Left, left, right, left, right…
Would you ever see a boxer not use both hands? Probably not. Both are useful. Both could probably do some damage on their own. If you have two perfectly good things, why not use them both.
Same goes for fixing your posture. Some preach mobility, others strength. But why not use the one-two combo of both?
Walking into a meeting, peeing, sitting in front of the 24” Mac at work or talking to the pretty blonde at a cocktail party; how you hold yourself is everywhere and everything.
People actually judge you on your posture!
And if you’ve had any sort of desk job, or even are over the age of 30, my guess is that your posture could use some attention.
Bad posture looks like this
Good posture looks like this
And you will read below the ways to get your posture better, from bad to good, without having to actively think about it.
The one-two combo comes from the key elements of both strength and mobility. Want to be able to stand tall, hold your shoulders back feel 2 inches taller? Get your mobility and strength up to par.
Mobility will allow your body to get into positions of good posture.
Strength will allow your body to hold these positions.
Left jab = mobility
Right cross = strength
Combo = knockout posture
Getting Into The Right Positions
Posture requires mobility in both the upper (thoracic) spine and the shoulders. Without having mobility, bad posture will haunt you forever, even if you do some strength training.
Upper back mobility
Your upper back needs to be able to extend and flex (think hunch forward and lean back) and also rotate both ways. Lacking in movement is bad for posture but also can lead to neck pain and lower back pain. Luckily, there are plenty of exercises you can do to regain full mobility
Extension - give your upper back the ability to actually extend back so you can stand straighter.
Bench thoracic extensions
Using the foam roller
Open the book
Hands and knees rotation
Shoulder mobility - allow your shoulders to move through their full range of motion to reduce neck pain and improve posture.
Lying shoulder flexion
Stretching is also a useful tool in shoulder positioning. A tight chest can sometimes be the sole cause of poor posture. We can combat this through stretches and also some self-massage.
Passive stretch - on ball
Active stretch - on rack
Self massage using a ball
The Strength To Stand Tall
Now it’s time to solidify the good positions you can get into. Through upper back strength exercises, you can target the big and small postural muscles to get them to more easily hold your chest up, spine straight and shoulders back.
3 point row
Prone rear delt raise
Ring or trx row
And some more examples you can use are the prone bench row, lat pulldown or bent over row. The exercises are o' plenty so there is much opportunity to get your upper back strong as hell.
The Golden Ratio
For every pushing exercise, you must do at least two pulling exercises.
Simply put, if your chest and front shoulders are stronger than the muscles of the upper back and rear shoulder they will overpower them and pull you forward into bad posture.
The ratio must be at least 1:2. One push means two pull. If you push something away from you (like a bench press) you must pull something towards you twice (like a cable row and a face pull).
This golden ratio cannot be overstated. It’s the bane of many guys and many postures. It’s a lot more fun to train the mirror muscles of the chest and shoulders, and I’m not saying you can’t, but if you want better posture you must train your upper back more.
Two Example Posture Workouts
These are designed to fit seamlessly into your normal workouts. A couple of mobility drills in your warm up and a few exercises and stretches spread through the rest of the session.
Added into warm up
- Foam roller extensions x5 reps (in two different places of the upper back)
- Quadruped rotations x10/side
- Cable row x4 sets of 8 reps (done slow)
- Active chest stretch when resting between sets
- Prone rear delt raises x3 sets of 12 reps
- Wall slides between sets
Added into warm up
- Cat/cow x8 reps
- Windmill x5/side
- 3 point dumbbell row x3 sets of 8 reps
- Tx dowel x5 reps
- Face pull x3 sets of 15 reps
- Standing shoulder flexion x8 reps as rest between sets
- Passive chest stretch on stability ball x30-60 seconds
Posture is a major part of health and can affect your energy as well as confidence.
This is why it's one of the many parts of the Man On A Mission System. A program built around super simple M.A.N stuff (Mindset, activity and nutrition) to build depressed, dead-on-their feet men into fit and energetic gentlemen. Sound interesting? Check it out here.