I size people up for a living, and the first thing that catches my attention is a person’s shoulders. I live a dual life as a strength coach and pro baseball player, and my eye for posture never rests. We train a predominance of baseball, softball and volleyball players in my academy, so keeping their shoulders healthy is crucial – what I see in their shoulders helps keep our many athletes on the field.
Yet, even among non-athletes in the real world, posture makes a huge first impression and gives me information that’s important in social settings. Beyond sport specificity, I see posture as an extension of overall strength, overall fitness, overall health, and that big attractant of the opposite sex: confidence.
Big, broad shoulders with a wide chest and shoulders pulled back? They’ve got something. Slumping shoulders, rounded back, and a pokey chin? They’ve got nothing.
The way I see it, there are three big reasons to work in your posture, specifically your rotator cuff:
- Good posture makes the chest look more broad and confident
- Rotator cuff tears affect more and more people due to computer posture
- A strong mid and upper back improves deadlifting, squatting, benching ability
Below, I’m going to provide a quick change we can make to your routine – both at home and in the gym – that will have a major, positive impact on posture, shoulder health, and the way a man presents himself to the world.
Your Glamour Muscles May Be The Problem
The degradation of American posture is a multifactorial problem, and it’s not just computers and texting – a workout routine that focuses too much on the chest and arms tends to exacerbate the problem.
Most men stick to their most visible glamour muscles – the chest and arms. Sure, big biceps and big pecs help a man fill out a shirt. But, these chest and arm workouts end up with key gaps – the back, rotator cuff, and, of course, the legs. And, tight pecs tend to pull the shoulders forward.
Thankfully, restoring balance to the upper body is easy, and it’s worth it – by integrating simple rotator cuff and mid-back exercises, you’ll improve posture, widen the look of the chest, prevent injury and set the stage for great upper body gains as a whole.
Everyone Is Sizing You Up
If your appearance is important enough to you to spend a handful of weekly hours on fitness, then what I’m about to say should come as no shock: people are forming impressions of you before you even open your mouth.
As a lifelong athlete, I’m used to sizing up my competition. There are a number of attributes that consistently correlate with strength, power, and athletic dominance. A few of these are:
- Big forearms
- A wide back
- Big thighs
- Wide, pulled back shoulders
- A proud chest
When sizing up my opponents in the batter’s box, all of these physical traits help answer the following question: how dangerous is this guy?
And guess what? Women do the same thing. They want a formidable partner, someone who can protect them, provide for them, and contribute good genes; these are all good traits in the natural selection process. The one thing that is common to men who are physically dominant is confidence. Men with confidence walk tall, with high eyes and a proud chest, and posture goes hand in hand with all of it.
Everyone Needs It
Even if your posture is better than most, remember – the amount of time the average American spends texting, tweeting and working on their laptop is tremendous, so we’re fighting a constant degradation of our posture, as our mid and upper back must relax to allow our head and neck to angle forward to view our electronic devices.
A high percentage of adult will develop rotator cuff and/or lower back pain during their lifetime. In fact, some studies have shown that up to 50% of adults have some degree of rotator cuff tear, even if they don’t yet present symptoms. Much of it can be attributed to extended time spent slumped over a computer or cell phone.
So, even if you have good posture as you read this, remember that a little prevention today will go a long way tomorrow.
5-Minute Workout For Your Home
You just finished a long day at the office. While your dinner roasts in the oven, spend five minutes on the following workout, done simply with little to no equipment:
A. Wall Slides: 2 sets of 60 seconds
B. The Pull Apart Series: 1 set of 20 repetitions each. This includes four exercises that require a band (almost any kind will do, but I recommend a looped band, found here (http://www.warbirdmethod.com/store/)
- No Money
- Pull Apart Y
- Pull Apart T
- Pull Apart A
You can, of course, do more than is prescribed here (2-3 sets of the pull apart series is ideal). But, just the above five minutes each day will do wonders.
5-Minute Workout For Your Gym
It’s incredibly easy to integrate upper back and rotator cuff exercises into your gym routine. Use any of the three exercises below and alternate them (creating what is called a superset) with any exercise you already do. For example:
A1. Bench Press 3 sets of 8 reps
A2. Face Pull 3 sets of 12 reps (this is our rotator cuff exercise)
In the above superset, you will alternate exercises A1 and A2 until three sets of both is complete, then move on.
Try any of the following exercises for 2-4 sets of 10-15 reps, and you’ll feel your upper and mid-back get stronger and thicker, improving your resting posture and shoulder health.
Exercise A: Dumbbell Ws
Exercise B: Face Pull
Exercise C: Chest Supported Row
Face The World With More Confidence
Posture is something everyone notices, and it can not only win you a better first impression, but the increased perception that you’re a confident, strong, and healthy man. Spend an extra five minutes per day to improve the way you perform and present to the world.