T Nation

Fixing Rounded Shoulders


#1

Hi guys,

I just started a lifting program for the first time this week. I've been doing random exercises before this but without any real planning. Currently my program consists of weighted chin-ups/trap bar deadlifts/OHP for 3 days a week (following the Operator template from Tactical Barbell). I'm going to try this for 6 weeks and then maybe vary the exercises or the frequency.

While reading around about various fitness concepts I started to evaluate my posture and determined that I have rounded shoulders. I had noticed this in the past but thought it was just how I was naturally built. Ideally I'd like to fix this imbalance but without messing with my current program until it's finished (though I don't know if this is possible).

My question: would incorporating high-rep pull ups on non-training days be enough to counterbalance the pushing from OHP and the hours of daily sitting? Are pull-ups enough to meet the 2:1 or 3:1 pull-push ratio or do I also need horizontal pulling (rows)? If I do need rows, should I just scrap OHP and use something like weighted chin-ups/rows/TBDL in the next cycle?

Any help is appreciated.


#2

Get a resistance band, throw it in your gym bag, and do a set of 20 band pull aparts in between sets of every movement you do in the gym. This will have no impact on your training itself, but will build up a huge deal of volume that should be pretty beneficial in this regard.


#3

Pull-ups primarily develop the lats, which act as internal rotators of the shoulders. If your shoulders are already slumped forward and internally rotated, pull-ups may not be the best choice for you right now. Horizontal pulling exercises which place more of an emphasis on the rhomboids and mid traps might be better from a shoulder-health standpoint.

Seated cable rows while actively thinking about retracting your shoulder blades and holding the contracted position for a 2 count might be a good exercise for you. You may also benefit from stretching your pecs and lats, and/or doing some self-myofascial release on those areas with a lacrosse ball. Top off with some basic external rotation exercises and the band pull aparts as described by The Pwnisher above and you should be on your way.

The last thing I would consider looking into is your breathing pattern, but that is a huge topic. This video will give you an overview of the topic if thats a road you want to go down: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsEXmf1pzXA


#4

Thanks guys, excellent tips.

Probably a stupid question, but would a rowing machine be comparable to seated cable rows? My gym doesn’t have any strength training machines, it’s mostly free weights with a few treadmills/row machines. We do have resistance bands though, and I will order one for myself so I can work on it at home as well.

A couple more questions stemming from this:

  1. Would you recommend buying something cheap like this: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/New-Resistance-Band-Fitness-Exercise-Workout-Gym-Training-Strength-Loop-/111513021870?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_15&var=&hash=item19f6b1adae

If so, which colour/tension range for pull aparts?

  1. Do I need to scrap my current program, or can I fix this imbalance by just working on my posture during the day, stretching, and doing a high volume of band pull aparts and using the row machine?

#5

I’m unable to view your link, but I use elitefts or jump stretch minibands and they work well. It doesn’t have to be a lot of resistance, just enough to get some contraction.

I honestly don’t think this is the biggest of deals. Think about how, prior to you reading about this being a problem, you had no idea it was a problem. If your current program has been helping you meet your goals, I see no reason to change it. I just find pull aparts to be helpful for healthy shoulders.


#6

Fair enough, I’ll get started on doing those. I usually have 4-5 minute rests between sets so I have a lot of time to crank some out.

It isn’t a problem now, I just fear it will develop into something worse or lead to an injury that would take me out of the game for a while.


#7

I think your routine looks good. I think using those exercises for 4-6 weeks and then switching to another set of push/pull/legs exercises is a good plan. In my opinion, working the overhead press will strengthen your “mid-back” (rhomboids, lower traps) and this should help your posture. Just make sure to get yourself into good posture/proper alignment BEFORE you start lifting heavy weights. Do some band pull aparts, or face-pulls, or rear delt raises or push up plus while you stretch out your pecs and lats as a warm-up for the presses. Don’t go cray, 2-3 sets should be enough to get your shoulders back and down.

You can also do a few sets of upper back or rear delt work after your 3 main lifts, to help you reach your 2:1 or 3:1 pull/push ratio. If you don’t have the low cable you could do some bent over rows, upright rows, shrugs, dumbbell rows or even fat man rows. Just a couple extra sets at the end of your workout. Holding that contraction at the top, like Trevor mentioned, is a great idea. They don’t need to be a “main lift” or a lift that you push super hard, just a little focused effort on a weakness, while you push hard on the basics.


#8

If you’re talking about an ergonomic rower (with the fan and the sliding seat thing), then that is a piece of cardio equipment would not be comparable to a seated cable row. Don’t worry too much about it though, that was just one possible exercise. DB rows are also a good choice if performed correctly.

I second Pwnisher’s suggestion of buying an EliteFTS mini band. That is what I personally use for pull aparts. I don’t think you need to scrap your current program if you can perform those exercises well and the program is getting you closer to your goals.


#9

[quote]Iron Condor wrote:
It isn’t a problem now, I just fear it will develop into something worse or lead to an injury that would take me out of the game for a while.[/quote]

This is one of those things that a lot of people get sucked into, and I feel like it causes folks to spend a lot of time treating problems that just plain aren’t there.

Part of it is coming to peace with the fact that, if you train long enough, you WILL get injured, and then understanding that being injured is no excuse to be out of the game. There are a ton of ways to train around injuries, and in turn injuries are an excellent learning opportunity. I’ve made far more progress from being injured than injury free.

I’m not saying to not take care of yourself, but more just to not get too caught up in what is being thrown around on the net. It seems like everyone has rounded shoulders, anterior pelvic tilt, glutes that “don’t fire”, mobility issues, impingements, etc etc. I can’t help but feel like most of these people wouldn’t have any of these issues if they had never read about them.


#10

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
It seems like everyone has rounded shoulders, anterior pelvic tilt, glutes that “don’t fire”, mobility issues, impingements, etc etc. I can’t help but feel like most of these people wouldn’t have any of these issues if they had never read about them.[/quote]

I have rounded shoulders. I have APT, I may well have glutes that “don’t fire”. I’m also a bit too fat and a lot too weak, I know which problem I’m going to be spending my energy fixing first.


#11

good suggestions above, also stretch your pecs hard immediately postworkout


#12

some great suggestions here, I’d just like to add that a MASSIVELY underrated part of shoulder rehab, in my opinion, is training upward rotation of the scapula. Rows and other retraction exercises are great, but considering your shoulders are slumped forward and down, you need to train to pull them back and up.

Prone trap raises are a great exercise. Lie face down on a bench set to a slight incline with the dumbbells out in front of you. Lift them up over your head with your arms straight and think about really squeezing your shoulderblade at the top. If you do it right you’ll feel a burn in a part of your back you don’t often feel a burn in.

Made a big difference to my shoulder health.


#13

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]Iron Condor wrote:
It isn’t a problem now, I just fear it will develop into something worse or lead to an injury that would take me out of the game for a while.[/quote]

This is one of those things that a lot of people get sucked into, and I feel like it causes folks to spend a lot of time treating problems that just plain aren’t there.

Part of it is coming to peace with the fact that, if you train long enough, you WILL get injured, and then understanding that being injured is no excuse to be out of the game. There are a ton of ways to train around injuries, and in turn injuries are an excellent learning opportunity. I’ve made far more progress from being injured than injury free.

I’m not saying to not take care of yourself, but more just to not get too caught up in what is being thrown around on the net. It seems like everyone has rounded shoulders, anterior pelvic tilt, glutes that “don’t fire”, mobility issues, impingements, etc etc. I can’t help but feel like most of these people wouldn’t have any of these issues if they had never read about them.[/quote]

Lol.

My wife recently went to a chiropractor for mild neck pains which were probably exercise induced, despite my advise to the contrary. The neck pain disappeared in a couple of days as expected, but now she supposedly has foward head posture, APT, rounded shoulders, improper spinal alignment etc etc, a 6 month rehab package and I’m poorer by $4000.


#14

Thanks guys, I’ve learned a lot. I’m new to weights but I had heard of muscle imbalances and thought I was ahead of the curve because I do a lot of pull-ups (my strongest and favourite exercise). Didn’t realise until this thread that they make it worse. I train in Muay Thai as well and this seems to be a common thing with boxers and kick boxers from what I’ve noticed.

For the next 6 weeks I plan to do a lot of pull aparts (100+ a day) and face pulls, as well as streching my pecs and just trying to maintain proper posture in every day life and I will see how it goes. The prone trap raises look like a good idea as well. Basically I will just be adding small things that won’t interfere with my program and that I can do while resting. After my current program is done I might put in some rows or some other things to concentrate on it more.

Yeah it’s probably not that big of a deal, but I think it’s something I can try to work on over time with minimal effort and it won’t hurt my main lifts (maybe it would improve them?)

Any more comments/suggestions are welcome.