Posture is Mindset, and Physicality is Mentality. Your posture is not only how you stand, it is how you move, and movement is dynamic. Your posture informs how other people perceive you, and how you perceive yourself. Improving your posture is entirely within your control
What is Posture?
Posture to most people means “stand up straight”, but in movement sciences, posture is biodynamic, and represents your overall lifestyle. The form of your body reflects the functions that you perform with it. Posture is not a fixed state then, but a fluid one.
Your posture reflects your lifestyle, and more than likely your profession. If you are active, on your feet often, and perhaps have to carry objects, or use your hands, you skeleton and muscles will adapt to this movement.
In contrast, if you sit often, stare at a screen, and walk very little, your body will began to take on this form as its go to “posture”.
What is Gamer posture then?
Gamer posture you could also call “beta” posture, or submissive posture, or simply bad posture. As the name suggests, young men (and young women for that matter) who spend their days hunched over a controller of desktop screen almost always end up with their bodies contorted and bowed over.
You could call it “standing like a geek”. Regardless of name, everyone intuitively knows what this bad posture posture looks like. It refers to the following
-dropped gaze (eyes look downward)
-rounded upper back
-knuckeldragger arms (palms face backwards), from holding a controller or being at a keyboard
-”tucked” pelvis, from excessive amounts of sitting
When you have this kind of posture, you are physically signaling that you are low energy, submissive, and non dominant. This posture makes you look physically smaller.
These are photos I took of myself in my bathroom with an iphone. I dont need a high resolution camera for you to see what beta posture looks like
Do I look high energy to you in these pictures? While I have lifted weights for years, my stature in these photos would suggest otherwise, especially if I was wearing a regular tshirt or jacket. Even looking forward, my gaze still looks listless and submissive. My shoulders are slouched, my arms turn in, and I even make myself appear as having a bit of gut, due to tucking my pelvis underneath my spine.
What would the opposite be?
Alpha posture. Or Hero posture as I often call it.
-Head aligned with shoulders
-Eyes are forward and alert
-Shoulders are broad and aligned with neck (make you appear larger)
-Arms are at sides, with palms in neutral
-Ribcage is aligned with pelvis
Here are pictures I took directly after the ones above
Same bathroom, same clothes, same lighting. Yet I clearly look taller, my gaze looks calmer, and somehow I look more muscular, despite doing nothing except changing how I stand.
That is the power of posture.
You can watch any recent Superhero movie to see Alpha posture and movement in action, This particular scene from Wolverine is an example.
Hugh Jackman physique makes an obvious impact, and his movement as Wolverine is “ultra” Alpha. He takes up space, he always makes eye contact, and his posture and movement creates a powerful physical presence. In all the films he appears in, he always stands out from the surrounding characters. This is not by accident.
While its not reasonable to suggest you move like Wolverine, its entirely reasonable to suggest that changing how you stand and move can improve how you “look” and appear to other people. The research on this in undeniable, and the social advantages this confers are immense.
Posture is Muscle
Improving posture from a muscular standpoint is very straightforward. The muscles that support upright posture and skeletal alignment are largely on the back of the body. Technically, the term for this Posterior Chain. I joking call these the TLA muscles-Traps, Lats, and Ass.
Start from the top of the chain and working down, we have the following muscles
-Trapezius-This attaches on the sides of skull, goes out to shoulders, and extends down to the middle back. Having well developed traps confers a “look of power”. Athletes with large traps always look intimidating. When you want to create an illusion of size, the traps and the shoulders are the two muscle groups to focus on
-Rhomboids-this muscle is right between your shoulder blades and attaches to both of them. When the rhomboids are weak, the shoulder blades will wing out sideways, and your back will round. When the rhomboids are well developed, they pull the shoulder blades back.
-Teres Major and Minor-these are the muscles on the back of the shoulder, sometimes referred to as the posterior delt. They pull the humerus back in the socket and externally rotate. Strengthening them creates a very “3D” look to the physique, and it also changes where you arms sit in repose (meaning at rest).
-Latissimus Dorsi-The Lats, as they are commonly called, are the largest of the back muscles, and they are crucial to strengthen for shoulder health and overall upper body development. The lats are the muscles the enables you to do pullups and chinups. Properly performed pullups and chinups can be used to develop the forearm, biceps, and almost every single muscle on the back. As such, they can be used for improving posture
-Spinal Erectors-these are the muscles that run along the spine. More than any other muscle, these keep your spine resisting gravity. When your spinal erectors diminish, gravity willl essentially fold you in half. Think of a very skinny guy with poor posture with a “hunch” in his upper back; he is losing the war against gravity. Spinal erectors are very easy strengthen, and only require 2-3 high rep sets.
-Gluteus maximus-Your lower body counts. If you have weak glutes, you will often have what called Posterior Pelvic tilt. This is refers to the pelvis being “tucked under” the spine. This further exacerbates kyphosis, and it makes for a very weak posture, and very unsafe movement mechanics.
-Hamstrings-If you sit a lot, you will likely have very tight hamstrings. This can easily be fixed through resistance and training stretching. Having strong legs is essential to standing up straight in the first place
-Calves-While calves are not necessarily essential, getting them stronger and more developed can be along with improving GAIT, ie, walking mechanics. I recommend Incline walking to anyone that wants to improve posture, as it provides active practice for the Alpha postural cues I covered earlier. Developing a mind muscle connection with your calves is useful, as it makes you aware of how you also stand, step, and walk.
Training Postural Muscles
Training these muscles is a very direct process. Ive listed the most effective movements for each muscle group below. All these movements would be best performed for 2-4 sets, of 10-20 reps. You want your training to be geared towards hypertrophy, ie, stimulating muscle growth.
-Trapezius-DB Shrugs, Facepulls, Loaded Carries (these are done for time or distance, not reps)
-Rhomboids-Any kind of horizontal on diagonal row. Seated Cable row, hammer strength rows, and DB rows are usually the most effective
-Latissimus Dorsi-Pullups and chin-ups, along with Diagonal Rows
-Spinal Erectors-45 degree hyperextensions, deadlifts,
-Gluteus maximus-Romanian deadlifts, squats, pullthroughs, and lunges
-Hamstrings-Romanian deadlifts, leg curls
-Calves-Calf raises seated and standing, incline walking
How do you put these things together? There are a few factors to account for.
-Back muscles can be trained with a very high volume, and are best trained with moderate to high reps.
-High frequency training (training a muscle group more than once a week) is the best way to improve an underdeveloped muscle
-If you training with higher frequency, your workouts should be moderate
-Effective training is based on finding the best VARIATION of an exercise that works for YOU. You need to experiment
If you are training 4 days a week, training back 3x a week for 6-8 weeks can improve posture very very quickly.
An example program would go as follows,
-Begin each workout with 5-15 minutes of Incline walking, 3-4 mph on a 4-6% grade
-Before lifting, perform 100 band pull aparts.
Workout 1-Back and Biceps
3 x 75 ft-Loaded Carry with DB in each hand
Pullups/Chinups-50 total reps, assisted if necessary
Seated Wide Grip Row-3-4 sets x 8-15 reps
Chest Supported DB Row with palms facing each other-2 sets of 20 reps,
Seated Calf raise 3 sets of 20 reps
Seated Leg Curl 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
Romanian deadlifts 3-4 sets, 10-15 reps
Walking Lunges 3 sets x 12 steps each leg
The following are performed as supersets
Low Incline DB Press 3 sets of 10-15 reps
Incline Reverse Fly 3 sets of 15-20 reps
Incline Bench Press 4 sets of 8-12 reps
Cable Facepull 4 sets of 12-16 reps
Moderate grip pushups 3 sets of 15-30 reps
DB Upright Row 3 sets of 10-15 reps
Pullups/Chinups-50 total reps, assisted if necessary
Seated DB Shoulder press-4 sets of 10-20 reps
Seated Db lateral Raise-3 sets of 12-20 reps
DB shrugs, standing with 3 second pause-3 sets of 12 reps
The above program obviously doesnt have an “arm” day. If you wanted to train arms directly, you could add in a biceps and triceps exercise to any of the days that you wanted. Remember that the priority with this program is getting your posture improved, not necessarily getting your arms bigger.
Improving Posture Takes Time
Better posture is not hard to create, but developing the muscles to do so is not an overnight process. There is a reason most effective training programs are about 12 weeks in length; 3 months is about the time it takes for new muscle growth to appear.
Its the beginning of 2017, and you have the entire year to self improve. Changing your self perception and how you are perceived by others will have a compounding effect on your whole life. If not now, when?
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