Good posture can make you look and feel sexier and specific weight training exercises can improve your posture. Strength training exercises for the upper back will improve the strength of the trapezius, rhomboid and latissimus dorsi muscles. This increased strength will pull your shoulders back, open up your chest and help you stand up straighter.
Low Rowing Exercises
To work on the lower half of your upper back, include low rows into your routine. You may do low rows in a variety of ways. Some low rowing exercises include bent over dumbbell rows, seated machine rows and cable rows. Keys to these exercises are to initiate the row with your shoulder, pinch your shoulders back fully and slowly lower the weights rather than let gravity pull them down. Choose two low row exercises and complete two sets of twelve repetitions of each. Choose an amount of weight that allows you to complete each set near failure.
High Rowing Exercises
As opposed to low rowing exercises, high rows focus on the area behind your shoulders just below your neck. These exercises effectively improve your posture by pulling the shoulders back. Try a wide angle row, such as a cable row, in which you pull back your arms while they remain parallel to the ground. To do this, set a cable pulley at shoulder height. Pull the handle back with your hand while keeping the elbow up in the air, as if you were about to elbow some one in the head. Focus on pulling your shoulder blades back fully each repetition. Complete two sets of twelve repetitions of your high rowing exercise.
Pulldown exercises focus on the lat muscles and help to give your back a long, lean look. Consider a seated lat pulldown or a standing straight arm pulldown. To do the latter, set a pulley high and connect a straight bar handle. Stand with your feet wide and hold the handle in both hands with palms facing down. Keep your elbows straight, and pull the bar straight down towards your hips in a big arc. Slowly raise the bar back up, and complete two sets of twelve repetitions. Maintain a tall posture throughout and focus on squeezing the muscles in your back each time.
Retraction exercises may be the simplest to do but are among the most effective exercises for improving your upper middle back posture. To do these, stand with tall posture, extend your arms up in front of you, and push your shoulders as far forward as they go. Then, keeping your arms straight, pull your shoulder blades back as far as you can, squeezing your shoulder blades together. That motion is called retraction. The key is to maintain straight arms throughout and only use your shoulder and back muscles. You can also do retraction exercises while holding cables or resistance band handles in each hand to add resistance. Do two sets of twenty repetitions to improve your posture.
- ExRx.net: Posture
- Athletic Body in Balance; Gray Cook
- NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training; Michael A. Clark
Scotty Brunning is a Chicago-based health and fitness writer. Having worked with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas, he has a plethora of fitness experience. He is an ACSM-certified health fitness specialist and a Cooper Institute master fitness specialist. Brunning holds a master's degree in health and fitness.