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The BEST Exercises to Improve Your Posture

We all remember being told as kids to "sit-up straight".

Like most times, mom was right!

As we age, something happens to our posture. 

It changes, and unfortunately not for the better.

For a variety of reasons our posture begins to shift.

This is due to:

  • Increased stress
  • Increased sitting
  • Decreased movement
  • Decreased flexibility
  • Imbalanced weight training programs (excessive chest and bicep exercises)

This is known as "upper-crossed syndrome".

Due to the reasons mentioned above, we get stuck in unfavorable positions. 

Muscles like our pecs (chest) and upper traps (neck) become dominant as they shorten and stiffen. At the same time, certain muscles like our deep neck flexors (muscles in front on your neck), rhomboids (muscles between shoulder blades) and lower traps (muscles below and between shoulder blades) become lengthened and weaken.

As you can see in the picture above, this muscle imbalance causes our shoulders to roll forward, our upper back to excessively round (kyphosis) and head to shift forward. 

Not only does that change our appearance but it can have a real impact on our performance, injury risk and pain.

This shift in posture can cause our joint position and muscle lengths to change to a disadvantageous position. This causes wear and tear on our joints, increases in muscle tension and activity and decreases muscle strength and endurance. 

The good news we can be both proactive in not allowing our posture to shift as well as reactive in bringing your posture back into a better position. 

One of the most powerful way is with our favorite upper-body strength exercise --- the row.

Before getting into our favorite rowing exercises, let's talk about why the row is great for improving posture and make sure we master the technique in the video below. 

Here are 3 rowing exercises to add to your routine:

#1 Half Kneeling 1-Arm Cable Row

The half-kneeling 1-arm cable row is our favorite exercise to teach how to properly row. Being on one knee allows you to focus on the rowing motion. This also improves lower body posture by stretching the front of the down leg's thigh.

Key Points: 

  • Start on right knee with cable in right hand, left foot out front
  • Keep 90 degree angles through your lower-body
  • Keep a straight line from down knee to head
  • Start by pulling right shoulder blade towards your spine as you row arm towards side
  • Finish arm by side 
  • Start with 3 sets of 10 reps/side

#2 TRX Inverted Row

The inverted row is a great way to strengthen your upper back and improve your running posture by keeping you tall. This exercise is a great way to also improve core strength. 

Key Points

  • Start with straight line from head to heals, arms straight
  • Initiate movement by pulling shoulder blades towards each other
  • Pull yourself up, finishing arms in line with body
  • Finish by lowering yourself to starting position
  • Start with 3 sets of 10 reps

#3 1-Arm Dumbbell Row

The dumbbell row is a fantastic postural and core exercise. The weight challenges the strength of your upper-back as well as your abs as you have to fight to not twist during the rowing motion. You will feel these the next day!

Key Points:

  • Start shoulder width with one hand on bench 
  • Keep knees soft throughout
  • Without twisting, pull shoulder blade toward spine and row dumbbell toward rib cage
  • Stop arm in line with body
  • Start with 3 sets of 10 reps/side

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