We spend all day leaning forward (driving, typing, reading, cooking, the list goes on). And, “The more time we spend in these forward positions the tighter the muscles in our chest and shoulders become and the more over stretched our back muscles become,” explains Amanda Christodoulou, certified Pilates instructor and owner of Pilates Body at Anatomy at 1220 in Miami. “Eventually, we find ourselves uncomfortable when sitting up straight,” she explains.
This muscular imbalance just doesn’t lead to nagging aches and pains, it can also interfere with the health-improving benefits of your workout. “Poor posture makes it more difficult to get into proper form for dynamic exercises, leaving us at a higher risk for injury,” Christodoulou says.
One way to counteract this is by focusing on your posterior chain (the backside of your body). That’s why Christodoulou put together the backside-strengthening routine below that focuses on your back, glutes, and hamstrings.
Try the workout below, but keep this easy posture-improving trick in mind, too: Simply roll your shoulders down and back. To feel this movement first shrug your shoulders close to your ears—that’s the sensation you want to avoid throughout the day. Now push your shoulders down trying to create as much space as possible between your earlobes and the tops of your shoulders. Aim to keep that space and general body awareness whether you’re typing at a computer, squatting at the gym, walking to your car, or doing this workout.
How To Do This Workout:
- Warm up with 5 Pilates Roll Ups
Then do this circuit a total of 2x.
- Triceps Dip — 10 reps
- Dumbbell Bent-Over Reverse Fly — 10 reps
- Dumbbell Deadlift —10 reps
- Superman — 10 reps
Equipment Needed: A set of medium-resistance dumbbells.
Learn how to do each move with these helpful GIFs.
1. Pilates Roll Up — 5 reps
“Each time you repeat this move, try to feel more of your bones connect with the mat, and then peel off the mat,” explains Christodoulou.
- Lie faceup on mat with arms resting on floor above head.
- Float arms up so wrists are directly over shoulders, and begin to curl your spine up and off the floor.
- Fold over legs, forming a “U” shape with body. Reverse movement to lower back to mat.
2. Triceps Dip — 10 reps
“Keeping your shoulders pulled back will tighten up the upper back while targeting the triceps.”
- Sit on the ground with your legs in front and your back up against a box or step. Place your palms on the box or step behind you, fingers facing forward.
- Straighten your arms to lift your legs and butt off the ground, then bend your elbows to lower back down (without letting your butt touch the ground). Keep your heels on the ground, and make sure you keep your elbows directly behind your body during this exercise.
3. Dumbbell Bent-Over Reverse Fly — 10 reps
This move helps strengthen your back, and when your back is strong it helps counteract hunching forward in the chest and shoulders, explains Christodoulou.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Bend forward at the hips so your upper body leans forward and your core is engaged.
- Raise the dumbbells straight out to the sides and lower back down to the starting position.
4. Dumbbell Deadlift — 10 reps
“This exercise helps strengthen the hamstrings, which alleviates some of the pressure we experience in our lower backs,” Christodoulou says.
- Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your body with palms facing your thighs.
- Keep a slight bend in the knees and push your hips back to lower weights down the front of your legs. Keep the weights close to your shins as they lower.
- Then slowly reverse the movement to stand. Make sure your back isn’t arched or rounded.
5. Superman — 10 reps
“Your entire posterior chain is challenged here. Be sure to keep the lower belly engaged to protect the lower back.”
- Lie face down with your arms out in front of you.
- Lift your torso and legs off the floor. Pause and then slowly lower everything back down.