I think we’ve all grown up being reminded to “stand up straight”, “stand tall”, “sit upright”, and so on…Pretty common actually.

We have to remind ourselves that most of us live in a modern-day world. Rather than hunting and gathering, farming, etc. We work in offices, in front of computers, and we tend to sit a lot.

These modern developments are, of course, wonderful, BUT they are not the best thing for our physical bodies (that’s why we are a world of exercise!). Most of us have a tendency to stoop over, lean toward our computer screens, or slouch a little bit.

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This creates bad habits. When we slouch over, the muscles of our backside get stretched and lengthened…they get weak….and the result is poor posture.

So here are some exercises to improve posture and  train those muscle groups to be stronger with more endurance:

Scapular Retraction

Often referred to as “rowing”, I use this term because many people perform rowing motion by “pulling”, using their arms more than anything else.

The correct way to perform rowing is to:

Keep chin up, chest up, arms straight, wide grip, and force the shoulders to move toward the rear.

This good posture allows the shoulder blades to “pinch” toward each other. So when you “row”…the actual range of motion isn’t all that great. So whether you grab a machine handle, rubber band handle, or dumbbell handle, just make sure you bring the resistance back toward you by moving the shoulders and shoulder blades. When done correctly, you will feel a strong contraction between those shoulder blades.

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Lat Pull-Down

Since most cannot perform chin-ups, the lat pull-down will suffice. To do this correctly, sit at a high cable pulley station and use a wide grip bar. Next, slide forward a few inches so that you need to lean back a few degrees to be directly under the pulley.

Grab the bar at full arm’s length with a wide grip, thrust the chest up high, and look up at that pulley. Initiate the movement by “seating” the shoulders downward, followed by smoothly and seamlessly pulling the bar toward your chin. As the bar approaches, thrust the chest up high.

There is a tendency for the abs to fire and contract, helping “lower” the bar. Pull the bar directly under your chin. Now….you may not actually get the bar to the chin, but aim for it anyway.

One big error I see is that many try to pull the bar down behind the neck. I don’t recommend this because you’re trying to pull that bar downward but also getting a rear retraction as well. This 2-point effort will fully hit the lats, all the way to the spine.

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Bent-Leg Deadlift

This one is a great overall movement for the human body, but I mention it here since the spinal erectors have to be strong in order to stand up straight. I also prefer using a free barbell for this one.

Stand with the bar at arm’s length, medium-wide grip. Next, lower the bar until it is resting on the top edge of your kneecaps (you can even use this as the “start” position).

Make sure your hips are back and that the bar is NOT dangling in mid-air, rather making soft contact at the kneecap. From there, drive the hips forward and continue to a fully straight-up position.

Repeat downward to the kneecaps, then drive hips forward again.

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The point of these movements is to strengthen the back muscles so you can stand or sit erect. Your back needs to be “flat”, and that requires the lats and the muscles between the shoulder blades to fire and create “retraction”.

Finally, there is a quick tip for this. A simple one too! If you think about doing one thing, your body will activate the entire back……what is that one thing?

ELEVATE THE COLLARBONE. Try it! It works! Now sit up straight!

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