Credit: Victor Freitas
More people are becoming health conscious and are incorporating exercise into their lifestyle. A great exercise regime should include cardio and weight training. Cardio is fantastic for building endurance and improving heart and lung functioning, while weight lifting is a means to improve fitness, get into shape, build muscle and lose weight. While the foods you eat are usually enough to fuel your workout, some pre-workouts may have a beneficial effect on muscle gain, and it can enhance your performance.
An often overlooked benefit of weight lifting is how it affects posture. Posture is the position in which you hold your body while sitting or standing against gravity. In this article, I will go over the importance of good posture, what causes bad posture, how weight lifting can improve your posture, and a selection of the best exercises.
Importance of Good Posture
When your posture is good, your body is adequately aligned. Your bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons are all positioned perfectly and work harmoniously and in sync. Apart from appearing confident and attractive, having a good posture provides other benefits. Good posture prevents back, neck, shoulder, and muscle pain and prevents you from straining your muscles.
When your bones and joints are correctly aligned, your muscles are used properly. This allows your body to use less energy since your muscles are less likely to become fatigued since they are not overused.
Good posture reduces your risk of developing arthritis. This is because your joints are less likely to suffer from abnormal wear and tear. It also stops the spine from becoming positioned in an awkward, unnatural position which can cause pain. Also, when the spine is held in the proper place, it reduces stress on the ligaments and joints of the spine.
If you're wondering what perfect posture looks like, it is standing up tall, and your spine must be straight. Look in a mirror and pay attention to your chin and shoulders. If your posture is good, your chin and shoulders will be parallel to the floor. Your core muscles play an instrumental role in your posture as they connect your upper and lower body, and when they're strong, they will help you maintain balance.
What Causes Bad Posture
Many folks who spend most of their day working behind a computer screen have bad posture because they hunch over their computer. You can also develop bad posture by looking down at your phone screen when you spend a lot of time texting and slumping on the couch for hours when you relax or watch TV.
Being overweight can contribute to poor posture as your weight is not evenly distributed, and your muscles may slouch to accommodate the extra pounds.
Weak core, back, and leg muscles are linked to bad posture. If your core muscles are not strong enough, your upper body may protrude forward, and weak leg muscles make it harder to balance. When your back muscles are weak, you may slouch as your muscles struggle to keep your spine upright.
Sleeping on a firm mattress that supports your muscles and spine would be beneficial, as a low-quality mattress offering little support will cause poor posture.
Wearing shoes that don't offer adequate support may also cause poor posture as your feet play a role in balance. Wearing shoes with improper support force your feet to work overtime to keep you balanced instead of supporting your posture.
How Weight Lifting Can Improve Posture
If you have a bad posture and suffer from back, neck, and shoulder pain, include weight lifting into your exercise routine. When done consistently using the correct form, weight training will help to improve your posture and reduce your back pain.
Weight training is excellent at improving posture and preventing back pain through the following.
Reversing the Effects Caused by Slouching and Sitting or Standing Incorrectly
It is important to be aware of how you sit and stand, especially when you're sitting or standing for long stretches at a time, like when you are working. Still, weight training can reverse the effects of bad habits. For example, if you spend hours hunched over a computer, do pull-ups and chin-ups since these movements are opposite to how your body is positioned for a long time.
Strengthens the Muscles
Weight training builds muscles, making them stronger. When lifting weights, you not only build muscle but also develop strength in the bones, joints, and tissue so that your spine is adequately supported. Weak shoulder muscles often cave inwards and are more likely to hunch. This puts strain on your shoulders and also your neck. When your back muscles are strong, you are better able to keep your spine straight.
You need a solid core to support and balance your upper and lower body. A weak core forces your hips to tilt forward, putting pressure on your lower back and neck.
Your legs are the biggest muscles in the body, and you need strong leg muscles to support your weight and keep your spine in an upright position.
The Best Exercises to Improve Posture
If you struggle with back, neck, and shoulder pain and have poor posture, knowing what weight-lifting exercises you should do will help to reduce the pain and improve your posture. Try adding the following into your routine:
Set a barbell in front of you and begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the bar just outside of your feet. Lift the bar by pushing your hips forward and keeping your back straight. Once upright, you can slowly and with control lower the weight until it's back on the floor.
Deadlifts are excellent for improving posture as it works many muscle groups, including your core, glutes, and lower back.
Get a set of dumbbells that are challenging enough but not too heavy. Get into position by holding a weight in each hand and standing with your knees a little bent and your feet pointing forward and hip-width apart. Bend forward at your hips and have your arms hanging straight down with your palms facing your body. Slowly bring both your arms up and out to the sides and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Then lower your arms back down towards your side.
Reverse flies help to straighten rounded shoulders that have been hunched forward and builds the muscles in the chest and shoulders.
You may use a kettlebell, dumbbell, or any small weight to do goblet squats. Start by standing with your feet pointing slightly outwards and just a bit more than hip-width apart. Hold your weight in both hands in the middle of your chest.
Look ahead, keep your core engaged, bend your knees and push your hips back. Your back should be in an upright position and make sure your weight is kept close to your chest. You should squat down until your hips are just below parallel to your knees. Come back up to a standing position by pressing through your heels and ensuring that your weight is evenly distributed.
The goblet squat is suitable for people at any fitness level and works the major muscles in the lower body, including the hamstrings, calves, legs, and glutes.
Select a set of dumbbells that are challenging but not too heavy that they cause your shoulders to slump forward. Hold one weight in each hand and keep your arms at your sides. Make sure you are holding the dumbbells comfortably with all fingers.
Keep your back and shoulders straight and walk about ten to twenty steps, depending on your space. When you walk, ensure that your weight is evenly distributed and that you don't stamp your feet.
The farmer's carry is ideal for people who spend a lot of time seated, working behind a desk. This exercise is an easy, full-body workout, as it targets your abs, lats, calves, upper back, hamstrings, triceps, forearms, quads, glutes, erectors, traps, biceps, and hand muscles.
There you have it:
Bad posture is bad. But not doing anything against it is even worse. And weight lifting is an excellent way to improve your posture. In this article, I covered the importance of good posture, what causes bad posture, how weight lifting can improve your posture, and a selection of the best exercises including deadlifts, goblet squats, or farmer’s carry.
In order to help people continuously improve their well-being, together with a bunch of top coaches I co-created the Live better, not perfect community. Our mission is to empower millions of people to consistently strive for optimal well-being. We only have one life, so we better invest in optimizing our own well-being and happiness.