A lot is spoken about the importance of good posture for a healthy and happy life, and how that factor is often neglected even in people who actually train. Training is an opportunity to make your body better. That may include growing bigger biceps or chest or whatever you’re aiming for, but you can in fact do that, and improve posture.
The muscles around the shoulders are common offenders in people with poor posture. Chronically tight pecs, lats, serratus anterior and upper traps, and then weak rhomboids, mid and lower traps and external rotators are usually seen.
Often underrated in terms of poor shoulder position, is the relationship between the biceps and the triceps.
Through excessive front sided movements both in life and in the gym, the biceps get tight and short and the triceps long and weak. The problem this causes is a slight bend at the elbow when standing relaxed. This makes the forearm drop in towards the midline. Therefore meaning the shoulder joint sits in a constantly internally rotated position. Other muscles around the area then adjust to fit this sub optimal posture.
So it is not unrealistic to say that even with the most extensive programme of work on the rhomboids, traps and external rotators, you could still end up with bad posture as the strength of the triceps, both maximally and in relation to biceps strength have not been addressed.
How can you tell?
To assess this situation in yourself, stand looking in the mirror in as normal a stance as you can manage. You’ll more than likely notice your shoulders rolling in. If they do roll in, you’ll be able to see a considerable amount of the outside of the biceps. Now look at the bend in your elbow. Anything more than a very tiny bend and your biceps are too strong for your triceps. The fact this bend is even visible in the first place indicates internal rotation. If there was none, your arm would hang loosely at the side of your torso so you’d be looking at the elbow front on.
Another visual indicator of tricep weakness and imbalance can be the size of it in relation to your biceps. In bodybuilding, the classic proportion when looking from front on is that the biceps take up a third of the upper arm as you look and the triceps take up two thirds. So you’ll clearly see strong triceps bulging out behind and to the side of the biceps.
So if you’re seeing this hunched up, internally rotated, bent elbowed posture, and/or your triceps have poor development, you now want to strengthen the triceps. Stronger triceps (as well as stretching and massage to the biceps) will lengthen the biceps in their resting position, allowing the arm to fall back in the shoulder joint, helping you achieve a strong and better posture. How do you do this effectively?
The exercise bit to achieve better posture
Here is a great triceps work out. The workout is high rep as the triceps appear to respond best to high volume work such as giant sets.
A1 – Lying DB pullover – 12 to 15 x 3
A2 – Band Pullapart – 15 to 20 x 3
(These exercises are not direct tricep exercises but are designed to open up the shoulder joint, making French pressing more effective, and to activate the traps and rhomboids, which will stabilise the scapula and hold it in the right positon for effective tricep training. They should be done on a weight that is only moderately difficult so as not to fatigue supporting muscles).
B1 – Flat DB triceps Extension – 8 to 10 x 3
B2 – Cable French Press – 10 to 12 x 3
B3 – Cable Pushdowns – 12 to 15 x 3
B4 – Incline barbell triceps press ups – AMRAP x 3
B5 – Band Pushdowns – 20 to 30 x 3
If you want to read more on improving your posture, here’s a previous article written by Dan.
Guest author, Dan Cossins, is a former international sprinter. An experienced personal trainer, strength and conditioning specialist, he has been helping people transform their health for over seven years, as well as coaching track and field athletes to many major championships, including the Olympics. Dan can be contacted at Well holistic therapies centre in Bath.