Don’t let working in an office all day sabotage your fitness goals. In addition to getting up from your desk and moving as often as possible throughout the day, there are a few specific exercises you can include in your regular workout routine to help strengthen and stretch the muscles you use for good posture.
Try up to three sets of my five favorite posture-building moves (recommended reps are below):
Split Stance Y-T-I
Targets: Upper back, shoulders and spine-stabilizing muscles
To do it: Begin in a split stance, with one foot forward and weight in your front leg, knees bent and back heel lifted. Keeping abs tight and spine neutral, hinge forward from hips until chest is almost parallel to floor. Raise both arms overhead into a Y shape, with hands in a thumbs-up position.
Without moving torso, open both arms out to sides of shoulders (thumbs still facing up) into a T shape, pressing shoulders down toward hips.
Lower arms down by sides, squeezing shoulder blades back and together, until hands are by hips (thumbs still facing up), making the letter I with your body. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps, switch legs and repeat.
Opposite Arm and Leg Reach
Targets: Abs, glutes, back and spine-stabilizing muscles
To do it: Begin in an all-fours position on the floor, with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Brace abs into your spine, and, keeping spine neutral and hips square to the floor, lift right hand and left knee off the floor, drawing elbow and knee toward each other (without rounding back or shifting weight to the side).
Extend right arm up by ear and left leg behind hip, making a straight line from hand to heel. Hold for one count, then bring elbow and knee back in toward each other. Do 10 reps, switch sides and repeat.
Targets: Back, glutes, shoulders and spine-stabilizing muscles
To do it: Lying face down on the floor, reach arms and legs out into an X shape. Extend spine, and lift arms and legs off the floor, hovering limbs just above the ground. Keep looking down to avoid neck strain. Raise left arm up outside the ear while lifting right leg slightly higher than hip.
Quickly switch sides, keeping torso as steady as possible. Repeat at a rapid pace for 30 seconds.
Targets: Abs, back, shoulders and chest; stretches hamstrings and calves
To do it: Begin in a full plank position with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, abs braced in tight to spine.
Press chest back toward thighs, bending knees as much as needed to lift hips up (heels can also lift off the floor) until body resembles an upside down letter V. Hold for one count, and return to start. Work up to 10 reps in a row.
Targets: Back and glutes; stretches chest and front of shoulders
To do it: Begin lying face down on the floor with legs extended slightly wider than hips, toes pointed. Extend arms down by sides with palms pressed into the ground just outside hips.
Extend spine and lift chest as high off the floor as possible, squeezing shoulder blades back and together and turning thumbs up toward ceiling. Hold for one count and return to start. Do 15 reps.
For more posture-building exercises, be sure to check out my “Walk On: 21 Day Weight Loss Plan!” This complete and balanced walking-based DVD workout program includes everything you need to safely and effectively build a strong and fit body.
Photos by Vanessa Rogers photography.