Strength training is an important attribute of any kind of workout routine. Plus, it’s one of the simplest and most effective ways to take your fitness regimen to the next level. It involves utilizing your own body weight as resistance to challenge your muscles and build strength, size, and work capacity. “Strength training is important because it affects just about every area of your life, even though you may not realize it,” explains Tyler Spraul, certified strength and conditioning specialist. “Smart training can help you build strong, healthy bones, which is essential for fighting off osteoporosis, thus improving your overall posture.”
Posture is important. It aligns your entire body—your muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons. Plus, it ensures that they all operate correctly and in symmetry. When your body parts are able to work in accordance with no issue, it relieves tension, stress, and pressure on your joints, specifically in the areas around your neck and shoulders. And, the benefits of strength training and good posture are more than just physical. It can also be beneficial for improving self-esteem, confidence, and even anxiety.
Here’s a closer look at the ways in which strength training can improve your posture, and the best strength training exercises that will help focus on this area of alignment.
Strength training can undo your “default” positions.
We all have positions that become habitual, be it how we cross our legs when we’re sitting behind a desk or how we fold our arms and hunch our back while we’re standing in line. Many of these positions are not ideal for proper posture. Thankfully, strength training can help “undo” some of the negative long-term postural effects of these kinds of positions, explains Spraul. “An example here would be choosing some smart upper body ‘pull’ exercises, like chin-ups and rows, to combat being hunched over a computer screen for long periods,” he says.
Strength training relieves pressure on the back.
One of the top reasons for maintaining a good posture is to relieve the surmounting stress and pressure placed on your joints when you’re spine is not aligned. For this reason, those suffering from low back pain can particularly benefit from a smart strength training routine. Strength training helps to build up the bones, muscles, and all other supporting tissues of the body, including the low back, explains Spraul. “This helps to improve your posture and keep you in better alignment throughout the day.”
Strength training improves your shoulder muscles.
Internally rotated shoulders are one of the major contributors to poor posture, according to Caleb Backe, CPT, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. “When your shoulder and back muscles are weak, they’re unable to hold themselves properly, and cave inwards,” he says. “Weightlifting can strengthen your upper body muscles, specifically your shoulders and trap muscles, and, in turn, can allow your upper body and neck to be properly supported.”
Strength training increases abdominal control and stabilization.
Think about how you feel upon standing up after doing a solid set of crunches—pretty strong, right? Another thing you might notice is that your posture is better. This isn’t just a coincidence. It’s because you just strengthened and tightened your core, which helps better support your spine in standing upright. When your abdominal muscles are weak, Backe explains, you experience what’s called anterior pelvic tilt. This is where your hips tilt forward and put pressure on your neck and lower back. “Strengthening your abs, however, helps realign the tilt, thus relieving pressure on your neck and back, and leading to better posture,” says Backe.
Here are two strength training workouts that experts say are most beneficial for improving posture:
One of the best ways to strengthen core muscles is by planking. This requires you to hold your body weight in a rigid position, and thus emphasizes stability. “Stability enhances the neutral alignment of your spine, supporting your back and contributing to better posture,” says Backe.
Because deadlifts hit nearly every major muscle group, specifically the hamstrings and upper back, as well as core stabilization, they strengthen the spine. This is a key component for correct posture, explains Backe. By strengthening your spine, he adds, you train your body to stay in a ‘good’ position, thus improving your posture.
Good posture makes all the difference when it comes to our bodies functioning at their best. Employ strength training to help improve your posture and build your muscular endurance in the process.