T Nation

Back Exercise/Posture Advice?


I just came across this site and decided to post this question as after lurking in the forums for a couple of weeks there is definitely the experience here to point me in the right direction.

I recently finished losing weight and hit my target goal of 86kg (~190lb) losing a total of 37kg (~81lb) through sorting my diet out and lifting heavy, if it helps I am 5'6" in height.

However, I have noticed that my shoulders are starting to round off, sort of pull forwards giving me a curved in look (would provide photos but don't have any at the moment) and I have been informed by a fellow gym goer that I need to increase the muscle mass on my back in order to correct my posture, i.e. pull my shoulders back.

Basically, I am definitely a beginner, only been lifting for slightly over a year, and I would like some advice as to what type of exercise I could do in order to achieve this.

For info I am a member of a fairly small but basic gym that although has a decent selection of db's, it does not have any barbells or plates so I am relatively limited at the moment. It does have a cable cross over machine. On the plus side, its sister gym, which my membership also allows me access to, is being refurbed and will soon have squat racks, barbells, basically everything available for oly lifts, but it won't be open again for another 6 months and I would like to start sorting this issue out now.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give.


Deadlifts, if done correctly (!), are the ultimate posture builder. Face pulls will help with the upper back and the rounded shoulder, but deadlifts (which you can also do with dumbbells) trump all. Focus on looking proud = keeping your chest up while doing them. The upright position should look like a drill sergeant’s about to inspect you.


congratulations on the weight loss!

Eric Cressey wrote a program for this site called “Neanderthal No More” which deals specifically with posture correction.

If you don’t want to do that program in its entirety, you basically need to make sure you are:

-Strengthening your glutes/hamstrings
-Strengthening your core musculature
-Training the shit out of your upper back (scapular retraction and upward rotation - think rows and prone trap raises)

It also couldn’t hurt to do some chin tucks (fix forward head posture) and to stretch your hip flexors and pecs. In my experience, this is of secondary importance to strengthening the postural muscles but some people swear by it. In any case, it couldn’t hurt to try.

Good luck! And remember, it took years for your posture to get this way so don’t expect it to be fixed overnight. Like nighthawkz already said, the most important thing is just to be conscious of your posture and correct it whenever you notice it has slipped.


Also to add to the great advice written above. Sometimes stretching the bicep and chest muscles will help “open” up your posture… A stretch I have found that really helped me is this:

I look away from the wall as well and feel a nice deep stretch in my forearm, bicep, chest, and even neck.

-Another great exercise are band pull-aparts.
-Heavy Farmer Carries really reinforce a great posture too.


[quote]Mauthos wrote:
I recently finished losing weight and hit my target goal of 86kg (~190lb) losing a total of 37kg (~81lb) through sorting my diet out and lifting heavy[/quote]
Major congrats on the weight loss. Even better, it sounds like you did it with a good plan instead of lots of running, water, and lettuce like some people end up doing.

I think pictures would help give a better reference point when you can get some up. Could be a few things. What has your training looked like? It could be as simple as not having done enough back training or doing too much chest training up to this point. In any case, posture is more of a skill or habit, rather than “just” being muscle-related.

Of course weak postural muscles play a role, but you can have strong muscles and a poor postural habit, and still end up with crappy posture. My favorite and simplest analogy is to imagine you’re always wearing a cape, and try to make it flow when you walk. Or, you could actually wear a cape.

You should be able to do facepulls with the cable crossover setup. I’d start your workouts with 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps, using a pretty light weight and holding the contracted position for a full 5-count.

I’d pull a little higher than that ^ , so your hands are ear or eye-level.

The Neanderthal No More program, like Yogi suggested, is solid and helped a lot of guys. But as a first step, I’d work on those facepulls. Or you could try a 1-arm elbow out dumbbell row (different from the standard dumbbell row for back). It’s the same basic movement pattern:


Something that changed my perspective was to not focus on keeping the head/shoulders back, but to try and stand as tall as possible, the rest seems to work itself out.


Thanks guys, appreciate the help and will definitely be adding your suggestions into my training, the videos were especially helpful. It will be a long road ahead, but gonna keep working hard. Thanks again.