They say sitting is the new smoking, which is why so many people are trying to figure out how to improve posture.
Whether you sit at a desk all day, spend a lot of time with your neck bent over staring at your phone, or are constantly lugging around something — kids, bags, laundry baskets — you need to think about your posture.
Unfortunately, maintaining a good posture is something that often goes overlooked.
Slouching your back and neck all day can lead to muscle imbalances that will cause pain and injuries down the road.
Luckily, there are ways to improve your posture with a combination of functional exercises and simple strengthening moves that you can add to your workout routine.
Keep reading to learn how to improve posture!
IS sitting the new smoking? Find out here!
How To Improve Posture Through Balance Exercises
One way to help improve your posture is to incorporate exercises that strengthen the core and encourage stability and balance.
For instance, a study done on collegiate athletes found that functional balance moves added to a strength and conditioning program not only improve fitness but also aid in improving posture.
There are a number of exercises that fall under this category.
Yoga is a great workout to encourage proper posture.
Yoga workouts focus on stability, comfort, and breathing which allows you to achieve total body awareness.
This serves to enhance balance and coordination.
You need to have a strong core to achieve the balance and self-control to maintain certain yoga poses.
By incorporating yoga one to two times a week, women can improve their posture by strengthening critical core muscles and gaining an awareness of where their body is in space at all times.
Studies have even confirmed the postural benefits of yoga.
When compared to individuals leading a more sedentary lifestyle, yoga has been found to improve postural control and coordination in adults.
These techniques also enhance strength and flexibility, which benefit all activities of daily living, and substantially improve coordination in women of all ages.
Pilates uses specific exercises to stretch, strengthen and balance the body.
In some ways, Pilates workouts are similar to yoga in that they focus on deep breathing and a mind-body connection to enhance fitness.
However, Pilates also focuses on optimal functional fitness to improve posture and body awareness.
The systematic exercises used in Pilates not only build core strength but also lead to numerous other benefits that influence balance.
This includes spine and joint mobility, proprioception, balance, and coordination training.
When integrated into other resistance and endurance training programs, Pilates is another tool to help improve overall fitness in women.
For example, in one study, Pilates training was effective in improving abdominal strength and upper spine posture as well as in stabilizing core posture.
Find out what the ideal full-body posture is while sitting, standing, and sleeping!
How To Improve Posture With Strength Training Exercises
Strengthening the glutes is a crucial part of improving posture.
Weak glutes allow the pelvis to tilt, which leads to bad posture.
In addition, a lot of women sit for prolonged periods of time during the day.
Unfortunately, this keeps your hip flexors shortened for long periods of time.
The more time you spend sitting, the more likely this is to cause your hip flexors to tighten up and your pelvis to tilt forward.
Not only is a forward tilting pelvis bad for posture, but this also causes weak core muscles to develop in the abdominal and low back muscles.
This further aggravates poor posture.
Squats are the ultimate exercise to build up your glute muscles and get your pelvis properly aligned.
A lot of women think that squats only work the leg muscles.
And while they are a great way to build up your quads, squats are also an amazing glute exercise.
Plus, when doing squats you are forced to engage your core to maintain the proper form, which further improves posture.
There are several different ways to perform squats to help improve your posture.
Standard Barbell or Dumbbell Squats
You can do standard squats with a barbell or dumbbell depending on how comfortable you are with the movement.
You can also begin with bodyweight squats if you are new to this move.
- To do a bodyweight squat, stand with your feet hip-width apart and squat your hips down and back while you bend your knees.
- Come down as far as comfortable or until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
- Try to keep your weight in your heels.
- Then explode back up through your heels to a standing position.
- Once you have perfected the form you can try holding dumbbells by your side or a kettlebell in front of you to add weight to the movement.
- Holding a weight in front typically will allow you to squat down farther and engage your abdominal muscles to a greater degree.
- You can stick with dumbbells or if you feel confident you can also move to squatting with a barbell across the shoulders.
- You should always use a spotter, or at least a spotter rack to make sure you are safe doing this movement.
- If you have lower back issues, you can also try front-loaded squats by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of your chest as you squat.
- This can help decrease pressure on the low back as you move down into the squat position.
- Aim for 8-10 reps.
While the goblet squat may seem very similar to a standard squat, by turning your toes out you will engage your muscles at different angles.
If you are using weight this is easy to do as a front-loaded squat to activate your abdominal muscles, which will keep you in a better upright posture.
- Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, with your toes turned out.
- Hold the handle of a dumbbell or kettlebell with both hands in front of your chest.
- Squat down, then press through your feet to stand.
- Aim for 10 to 12 reps.
This video demonstrates the proper goblet squat form.
Split squats are an excellent way to isolate one leg at a time.
This allows you to really focus on the movement and to fix any strength discrepancies between sides.
- Place a chair about two feet behind you.
- Place the top of your right foot on the chair while standing on your left leg.
- You can clasp your hands in front of you or place them on your hips.
- Squat down by bending your left leg until your thigh is parallel with the ground.
- Be sure to not let your knee come over your toes.
- Press through your foot to stand back up.
- Do 15 to 20 reps, then switch to the other leg.
Find out how you can make squats harder with tempo squats!
Strengthening Your Back and Shoulder Muscles
Other important muscle groups to focus on during your workouts are your back and shoulders.
Strengthening these muscles will help keep your shoulders retracted and counteract slouching.
Resistance Band Rows
Resistance band rows are an excellent exercise to hit these muscle groups.
Using resistance bands during your strength training routines means that you can get in a workout to improve your posture at home or on the road.
- To perform a resistance band row start in a seated position on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Loop the bands around your feet while holding onto the ends of the bands (or handles).
- You should hold the ends of the bands in front of you with your elbows bent to your sides.
- Be sure to engage your abs so that you are sitting up tall and not hunching forward.
- Pull the bands back until they are next to your side and elbows are behind you.
- Hold for 2-3 seconds then slowly extend your elbows to bring your arms to the starting position.
- Aim for 8-10 reps.
The overhead press will strengthen your shoulders and keep them from hunching forward when you are sitting or standing.
Plus, by doing this move while standing you will engage your core which will also aid with posture.
These can be done with dumbbells or a resistance band.
- To perform the overhead press, stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells at your shoulders, palms facing forward.
- If you are using resistance bands, stand on the end of the bands and hold the ends at shoulder height.
- Press the weights or bands overhead.
- Hold at the top for a brief pause then slowly lower to the starting position.
- Aim for 8 to 12 reps.
This move may be the ultimate exercise to improve posture.
You are not only targeting your back muscles during the rowing motion, but you are also working on shoulder stability as you hold one hand in a plank position.
Plus, you're activating your core as you attempt to keep your body in a stable plank position.
- To do the renegade row, start in a high plank (or push up position) with your hands directly under your shoulders, while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Your feet should be slightly wider than your hips to help stabilize your body.
- Row your right arm up, keeping it close to your body.
- Your elbow should go past your back as you bring the weight toward your chest.
- Pause briefly at the top then lower back down.
- Then repeat on the left side.
- Aim for 8 to 12 reps on each side.
Learn how to strengthen back muscles at home with these targeted exercises and stretches!
*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on how to improve posture.