Why your sorry-a** posture needs thoracic spine/upper back extension today: one simple stretch to help you out

People say they just love me because I am so positive.

I can still write headlines that aren’t so fuzzy and friendly though! See above. Bahah!

Do you suffer from poor posture, pain in your spine, pain in your upper back, pain in your shoulders?

I’m only writing this because I care. Most of your friends and family won’t tell you that your posture sucks. Okay, maybe your mom will tell you to sit up straight, but most people believe that posture is your own responsibility.

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Upper back/Thoracic spine extension and stretching at home on a foam roller

I’m here to help.

Be aware of the stability-mobility continuum.

In general, the neck should be stable, the upper back should be mobile, the lower back should be stable, the hips should be mobile, the knees should be stable, and the ankles should be mobile.

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Mobility/Stability continuum

The above statement is definitely a generality, but it applies to most people in the general population so it does have use.

By following these basic principles, a fitness professional can prescribe targeted exercises and stretches for an individual in need of optimal function.

Some people need to cure their bad posture, others are already wrecking their joints by exercising with poor form.

Here’s an example. If you are constantly performing back exercises with shrugged shoulders, over time it will probably end up stressing your joints. You need to be able to control the scapula by retracting and depressing the shoulder blade when appropriate.

Exercising with poor posture is like driving a car with axles and wheels out of alignment: it’s only going to work for so long until it breaks down.

Aside from the fact that good posture promotes a healthy self esteem and people respond better to you when you exhibit good posture, you also need to perform your exercises with good posture otherwise you’re not making the situation any better.

Our joints have a lifespan and you can increase the lifespan of your joints by exercising in good posture. Additionally, you can increase the lifespan of your joints by having training that promotes muscular balance and offers enough time for recovery.

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The healthy spine solution:

It CAN be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s the general idea to support a healthy spine…

  1. Train your glutes hard (glute bridge, weighted barbell hip bridge, single leg glute bridge, rear foot elevated split squat aka bench static lunge aka bulgarian split squat, single leg deadlift, barbell deadlifts, dumbbell deadlifts, barbell squats, goblet squats, etc.)
  2. Train your abdominals hard (TRX Pike, TRX knee tuck, ab dolly knee tuck, ab wheel rollout, reverse crunches, turkish get up, etc)
  3. Mobility in the upper back (upper back extension on the foam roller, upper back stretches on your chair, upper back stretch on the stability ball, upper back bends in yoga, etc)

These three keys will do WONDERS for your body. Moreover, you can also go ahead and stretch your hip flexors and other tight areas that relate to the hip. On top of that, perform some ankle mobility drills and strengthen your tibialis anterior and posterior and then you’re good to go!

Say hello to good posture forever

EVERYBODY has seen an elderly person with a horrible kyphotic posture that just makes you wonder how that even happened. Well, the truth is that they probably never performed upper back exercises and upper back extensions. As a result, their backs became hunched, which can lead to damages down the chain.

Upper back rigidity can lead to lower back pain

Everything in the kinetic chain is linked. You really need to address your posture from a holistic standpoint. If you have chronic lower back pain, it’s quite possible that it is linked to tightness of the upper back. Obviously I can’t prescribe for you through this blog, but it is worth being aware of for when you visit with a healthcare provider or fitness professional.

Take care of your body so that you can life a long, healthy and high quality life.

I don’t think you get more than one life, so make it count. You’d be surprised what happens when you start taking care of yourself.

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If you’re convinced, then buy a foam roller on Amazon today.

 

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How to Structure a Weight Training Workout for Regular People interested in Fitness

If I’m not training full body (which I am a fan of actually), then I’m training upper/lower splits.

Even though in bodybuilding, many people will train chest on one day, back on one day, legs on one day, arms on one day, and shoulders and abs on one day, I’ve never found that style to be effective for me. I like to train the basic upper body exercises on the same day.

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Dumbell Row

Upper/Lower split is like this:

Monday: Lower body

Tuesday: Upper body

Wednesday: Rest day

Thursday: Lower Body

Friday: Upper body

Sat/Sunday: Rest days or other workouts, yoga, exercise classes, various activities, outings, etc.

Full Body workout would be like this:

3-5x per week with various daily emphasis and listening to your body for recovery purposes. If you are doing Orangetheory Fitness, then it’s possible you’re already doing this. That being said, if you’re serious about gaining more strength, you’ll want to do dedicated strength training sessions and not just cardio/weights combination every time.

I mostly believe in either Full Body training and in Upper / Lower training.

If you read the muscle magazines, you really need to understand that mainstream bodybuilding magazines are full of men and women on steroids and/or performance enhancers. The reason is because illegal steroids are easy to order online and widely accessible to anybody who’s willing to do a little research. Also, they work really well and have a lot of side effects.

What those people put into their bodies is none of my business, but it creates false perceptions when it comes to the, “what,” “how,” and, “when” can I see those results for myself. Most fitness magazine cover models have bodies that are simply unattainable for people who are unwilling to risk their health by taking steroids.

Benefits of full body training and upper/lower splits: Frequency

You really shouldn’t be so concerned about shredding/destroying your muscles during an excessively long weight training session full of drop sets and exercises to failure. Instead, train for frequency and continually get stronger in key exercises such as squats, deadlift variations, bench press, rows, weighted pull ups, dips, overhead press, arm curls/extensions, and leg curls.

All you have to really do is practice on the key exercises and make progress. Most people can recover the muscles sufficiently within 48 hours as long as you didn’t burn yourself out or always going for 1 rep maxes or always going to failure.

Just imagine if you trained your bench press 2-3x/week, your db row 2-3x/week, squats and leg curls 2-3x/week! You’d make progress way faster than just doing it once per week along with a bunch of isolation exercises.

Train like an athlete and follow prominent personal trainers that train athletes.

Of course my demographic is not bodybuilding on this blog even though some people will have an interest in bodybuilding. Let me tell you, I am also interested in bodybuilding and I follow it sometimes, but I am not interested in being a bodybuilder. Fitness is my game. There’s no shame in that.

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Standing overhead press is more athletic than seated overhead press and yields more benefits for fitness.

Athletes are probably the fittest people on the planet and most of them are required to take some sort of drug tests. I’d suggest to look into how athletes train — be goal oriented and don’t spread yourself too thin in your training.

Keep it simple stupid: KISS was the mantra of a personal trainer I worked with.

For my upper body workout, I’ll usually spend a couple months prioritizing about 3-4 exercises that I would typically do first in a training session. For example, on lower body, I have recently prioritized rear-foot elevated split squats and I went from doing 135lbsx8 reps per leg to doing 205lbsx6 reps per leg — the glute growth was noticeable and my running strength improved.

No need to be fancy, just set a goal on a few exercises at any given point and prioritize them. All of the other exercises are just to support the goal of increasing strength in the ones that you are prioritizing (or to promote injury prevention).

Weight training is a lifestyle.

I can program an exercise routine for you that is top notch, guaranteed to be effective. However, if you constantly go to bed late, drink alcohol often, and neglect your nutrient intake, then you’ll never make it past the “newbie gains.”

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It’s not a damn secret — vegetables are the best for you.

I love strength training with weights because of the sense of accomplishment and because I know that there is literally no way I am going to make progress in the weight room if I don’t take care of my nutrition and sleep. The weight room teaches me lessons about myself and encourages me to take care of my body.

Having some muscles doesn’t hurt either.

I feel confident from my experiences, not so much from my body. But I can tell you that if I didn’t didn’t take care of myself, then those experiences I’ve had over the years wouldn’t have been as rewarding or opened nearly as many doors.

 

Thanks for reading and I’m excited that this blog is growing. It seems like we’re getting new followers everyday!

What are the Benefits of the Dumbbell Row exercise for Back, Biceps, and Core?

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The Dumbbell Row is by far one of the best upper body exercises period.

“If you wanna grow, you gotta row.”

The dumbbell row exercise will help strengthen the muscles of the upper back, lats, rear deltoids, forearms, biceps, and even the core. For an upper body exercise, the dumbbell row has almost countless benefits for nearly all strength, athletic, and fitness goals.

Benefit 1: Makes you appealing! Helps coveted V-Shape torso for the men, Hourglass shape for the women.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the aesthetic benefits of having toned back muscles. Both men and women have an improved appearance (and signals of ability) by strengthening the muscles that are targeted by the DB Row.

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“Some engaged lats”

For men, waist to shoulder ratio is an obvious sign of attractiveness. And for women, the DB Row can strengthen the lats and upper back and give the waist a slimming appearance due to having improved muscular proportion.

Benefit 2: Dumbbell Rows are a unilateral exercise and can remedy strength and muscular imbalances between either side of the body.

Everybody has some asymmetry so it is an important part of a good strength training program to balance strength between all planes of the body. By working one side at a time, you are guaranteed to know how much that particular side can lift, without ever wondering if your body is compensating.

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A fine example would be the Continue reading