We know you’re no slouch—but if you’re like most of us, you could use some exercises to improve your posture. And this isn’t just silly life-coach advice: good posture properly aligns your spine and lessens the strain on your muscles and ligaments. Not to mention that proper alignment strengthens your core and allows you to breathe deeper and easier. So, forget trends like power posing—check out our no-nonsense guide on how to fix bad posture with these 5 simple exercises.
Dumbbell Row with Free Weights
Ready for some exercises to improve your posture and strengthen your back? Let’s start with a classic: dumbbell row with free weights. They’re not just good for sculpting and carving your arms, they’re also awesome for strengthening your rear delts (a.k.a. the back of your shoulders) and rhomboids (upper-back muscles along the spine)—one of the most important muscle groups for your posture. And if you’ve got an achy back, you can modify these by doing one-handed reps and resting your other hand on your knees!
- Hold weights with both hands hanging below the shoulders
- Stand with legs hip-distance apart
- Hinge at the hips and let your arms dangle, but keep your chest proud with your shoulder blades back and down
- Draw your elbows up as you squeeze your shoulder blades together
- Slowly release
- Do 12 reps, 3 times
If you want to target your back with surgeon-like precision, our money’s on the TRX Y-Pull. TRX back exercises are some of the greatest exercises to improve posture, and strengthen your rear and medial delts.
- Adjust the TRX straps to their mid position
- Stand tall and raise your arms into a Y position and make sure the straps are taught
- Keep your feet in place and lean back allowing your arms to drop to the front shoulder height and your body is now close to a 60° angle
- Keeping your arms as straight as possible pull back up to the Y position
- Do 12 reps, 3 times.
If trying to fix bad posture seems like a flashback to your schoolyard days, just wait ‘til you hear about the lat hang, a crazy effective exercise for improving your posture and strengthening your back. It might seem like it’s inspired by your days just dangling listlessly from the monkey bars, but targeting your lats (even with an exercise as gentle as this) is really important for loosening tight shoulders and backs.
- Place a box or bench under a pull-up bar
- Step up and grasp the bar
- Hang down until you feel a stretch in your armpits and chest
- Tuck your pelvis
- Breathe slowly in and out
- Hold for 30 seconds, 3 times
Standing Forward Fold
Put your best foot forward with a standing forward fold, an awesome stretch that activates the rear deltoids and rhomboids, while relaxing the erector spinae muscles (the back muscles that help hold your posture). Also known as Uttanasana, this yoga move to improve posture also functions as a perfectly good stretch for the hamstrings, calves, and hips.
- From a standing position, exhale and fold vertebrae forward
- Hinge from the hips
- Lengthen your torso
- Cross your forearms and hold elbows
- Let your head hang
- Inhale as you c-curve your spine to roll to standing
A tight chest is one of the most common reasons why people have bad posture—and vice versa. Exhausted with this vicious cycle? Us too. End it with a doorway stretch, one of the simplest, most satisfying stretches ever. It’s perfect for opening up the major chest muscles: the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor.
- Stand in a doorway facing out
- Place your bent right arm against the doorframe
- Twist your body to the left, lean into the stretch
- Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds
- Repeat for the left hand
Bad posture isn’t caused entirely by weakened muscles in the shoulders and chest—but it certainly doesn’t help. With the right exercises to improve posture, you can strengthen the right areas and reduce the strain on other muscle groups that have been forced to pick up the slack! And if you’re ready to put that proper posture to work, check out Studio SWEAT onDemand. With our 7-Day Free Trial, you’ll get an entire week of fat-torching classes led by real, world-class trainers that’ll set you straight! Now chin up, chest out, and stand tall!