As a software engineer, however, I feel like I’m in a constant battle to keep my work from destroying my posture. I spend a decent amount of time in the gym and I’ve discovered a few exercises that have a profound affect on my posture. While ones that target the lumbar area directly are great, paying specific attention to the glutes, hamstrings, upper back and shoulders really solidifies that “(wo)man of steel” posture.
Let me be clear. These are not physical therapy exercises and are not meant for bird-chest, butt-out posture errors. Additionally I recognize that most of these exercises are probably intimidating to most. I encourage you to get past that if you’re not familiar with them and find a trainer or coach who can help you learn one of them to start. The difference it will make on your posture and fitness will be well worth it.
These first two are more advanced but they are my favorite so I’m listing them first. They may be intimidating but these two exercises alone can turn a broken corpse into an Olympic track runner (well, almost).
Snatch grip deadlifts.
If you need to find your snatch grip, watch this video. Deadlifts are good for posture, but personally I find Snatch grip deadlifts to be more so. After I finish a few sets of these I feel like a god picked me up and stretched me out head to toe.
Front squats are superior to back squats when we’re talking about posture because they encourage thoracic extension. That’s your ability to extend your spine in the rib cage area, which is critical to good posture.
My favorite thing about these is the light-as-a-feather feeling you get right after dropping the weights. Use as much weight as you can and walk as far as you can. Use your deadlift form when picking up and setting down.
Wide Grip Rows
This is a general back exercise. It targets your erectors which must hold you in proper form during the motion and your deltoids, rhomboids and shoulders during the motion.
Isolating the shoulder part of the Wide Grip Rows, these face pulls are great for targeting oft-ignored areas: rear deltoids and rhomboids directly. If you have tightness through your back you’ll probably end up arching your lumbar area when you contract (as the guy in the video does). This is not ideal but it will happen. Work to keep your lumbar strong yet relaxed while pulling from your shoulders.
A note about good form
All of these exercises need to be done with the most perfect form you can muster. Achieving and respecting that proper form is exactly what yields better posture. For the advanced movements you really want to start with low weights, get some feedback on your form and give yourself time to learn and groove1 the motor pattern.
Please comment if you try any of these exercises. I’d love to hear if they work for you the way they work for me.
- “Grooving” is the term for instilling muscle memory ↩