If you're after the health and fitness benefits of proper posture, you need to start in a place you're already very familiar with - the gym. Choose one or two of these posture-improving exercises and incorporate them into your routine on a rotating basis. Incorporate one or two of these posture-improving exercises into your routine on a rotating basis. Do three sets of 10 to 15 for each one.
1. Stability Ball Y-lift
Target Muscles: trapezius, anterior and lateral deltoids, erector spinae
Set Up: Lie on a stability ball with your legs extended behind you, with your head, hips and heels in line. Extend your arms down toward the floor alongside the ball, with your thumbs up.
Action: Maintain position as you lift your arms up (straight), leading with your thumbs to bring them alongside your head, drawing your shoulderblades down and back. Hold for one breath, then lower back to the starting position.
2. Dumbbell Wide Row
Target Muscles: rhomboid, teres major/minor, rear delt, trapezius middle/lower
Set Up: Place your left hand and left knee on a flat bench and hold a dumbbell in your right hand, your arm extended straight down from the shoulder, perpendicular to the floor, palm facing rearward.
Action: Lift the dumbbell upward, flaring your elbow out to the side and squeezing your right shoulder blade inward. At the top your upper arm should be parallel to the floor in line with your shoulder, your arm making a 90-degree angle. Release to the starting position and repeat, finishing all your reps on the right side before switching to the left.
3. Bent Over Reverse Flye
Target Muscles: posterior delt, infraspinatus, teres minor, lateral deltoid, middle and lower trapezius, rhomboids
Set Up: Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs, your palms facing each other. Bend forward from your hips about 45 degrees, keeping your back flat and allowing your arms to hang straight toward the ground.
Action: Keeping a slight bend in your arms, raise the weights up and out to your sides, keeping them in your peripheral vision throughout. At the top, squeeze your shoulder blades together, then slowly lower back to the starting position under complete control.
Target Muscles: trapezius, anterior and lateral deltoids, erector spinae, glutes, hamstrings
Set Up: Lie facedown on the floor with your legs together and your arms extended overhead. Lift your arms and legs a few inches off the ground, keeping your spine neutral.
Action: Staying lifted, bring your arms from the overhead position down in a smooth arc toward your hips, rotating them so your palms turn to face upward as they come toward your glutes. Try to touch your hands together over your lower back, then reverse the move and return to the starting position.
Set Up: Lie face-up on a flat bench with your head and neck fully supported.
Action: Extend your arms out to the sides, palms facing upward. Contract your shoulder blades. Hold here, or have someone place 2.5-pound plates on your palms for a deeper stretch. Relax your upper body and allow the weight of your arms (or arms and weights) to gently stretch your chest and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute.
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