Muscular balance and symmetry are critical when it comes to bodybuilding. One of the drawbacks to a typical bodybuilding training regimen is that the majority of the exercises are executed in the sagittal plane. In other words, most exercises involve front to back movements such as bicep curls, chest press, leg extension and leg press. 
 
What these movements are lacking is frontal plane or side-to-side movement. Training predominately in the sagittal plane (front to back) for an extended period of time can lead to slumped or forward flexed posture, rounded shoulders, stiff hips, and a greater likelihood for injury. Side-to-side movement should be supplemented in order to provide a more well-rounded and balanced program that will improve posture and prevent pain and injury in the long term. 
 
One important factor to keep in mind when incorporating frontal plane movements is the tendency for a body that is very strong in the sagittal plane to want to cheat. The natural tendency is to avoid recruiting the proper muscles that stabilize the body in the frontal plane. 
 

Posture Muscle Activation Exercises

In this video, I’m going to introduce to you two exercises that will promote extension of the spine and improve shoulder position. They will also target and strengthen lateral hip stabilizer muscles. Pay careful attention to the instructions, positions and equipment involved. These exercises are designed to prevent the body from compensating, and to promote activation of the correct musculature.
 
The exercises are: 
 
  • Kneeling tricep stretch with abduction - 3 sets of 20 reps 
  • Sitting abductor press - 5 minutes of continuous pressing
 
For the best results, try doing these exercises before you work out. They will put your body into a better position and they will activate key stabilizing posture muscles. 
 
 

Exercise Instructions

Kneeling Tricep Stretch With Abduction
 
  1. Place a non-stretchy strap around your ankles so that your ankles are one and a half fist-widths apart.
  2. Kneel in front of a chair or bench. 
  3. Place one hand on each shoulder and place your elbows on the chair or bench.
  4. Walk your knees back so that your knees are beneath your hips. Your knees, hips, and shoulders should all be in line with each other.
  5. Collapse you shoulder blades together.
  6. Arch your lower back.
  7. Press and release your ankles out against the strap for 3 sets of 20 reps.
  8. Be sure to keep your low back arched for the direction of the entire exercise.
 
You should feel this in your outer hips, and you should feel a stretch between your shoulder blades and in your triceps.
 
Sitting Abductor Press
 
  1. Sit in the middle of a chair with your feet pointed straight ahead, 4-6 inches apart.
  2. Place a non-stretchy strap around your knees so that your knees are one fist-width apart.
  3. Roll your pelvis forward to place a small arch in your low back and hold this position throughout the exercise.
  4. Press outward against the strap then release. Press and release continuously for five minutes.
 
Tip: Keep both knees in the same plane. If one knee is jutting out in front of the other, this means the pelvis is rotated, which is mitigating the benefit of the exercise. Keeping the knees in the same plane will ensure that the pelvis is in a neutral position.
 
You should feel muscle burn in the side of your hips, if done correctly. This will be very difficult to do for five minutes, but the work will pay off in the end!
 

Get Strong, Stay Healthy

I hope you enjoy these posture exercises as they have helped me greatly over the years. I enjoy traditional bodybuilding exercises because they make me feel strong and they produce results! I hope these balancing exercises help you stay in the game, pain and injury free. If you have any questions or comments feel free to send me an email.
 
A little prep work goes a long way toward preventing injury:
 
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this article is to promote broader understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.
 
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