Weekend Challenge: The Square-Shoulders And Straight Back Press
I know that Savers are very interested in improving their posture.
For that reason, today’s exercise is the Square-Shoulders And Straight Back Press, which ties-in nicely with last week’s challenge to correct FHP (Forward Head Posture).
I like to do these exercises in sequence, since neck, back and shoulder positioning is crucial to good posture.
The Square-Shoulders And Straight Back Press builds both your shoulder and back muscles, giving you the “square-shouldered look” and flat back associated with perfect posture. And when you get to the Advanced Version, you’ll also tone your core muscles.
This exercise will give you a more youthful look. After all, rounded shoulders are the classic sign of a developing Dowager’s Hump associated with age, collapsed vertebrae, and extreme bone loss.
There’s no doubt that with a straight back and square shoulders you’ll appear younger and more confident!
Why: Correcting your posture through exercise is about more than just appearance. As you target these key muscles in the shoulders and back, you’re also stimulating your bones to build and strengthen in response to the action of the muscles.
Exercises like The Square-Shoulders And Straight Back Press align your skeleton to carry your body weight more efficiently, resulting in decreased pain and tension.
Today’s exercise stimulates two main muscles groups that work to raise and rotate your shoulder joint: the deltoid and the rotator cuff.
Deltoids are divided into 3 groups: anterior (front), lateral (middle), and posterior (back). Their primary function is to move your arm up and away from your body (abduction).
- The anterior deltoids work with other muscles in your chest and back to rotate your upper arm (humerus), allowing you to hold your arms out and rotate them so your palms face forward or back.
- The lateral deltoids help raise your arm out from your body in a basic palms-down position.
- The anterior deltoids are in the front, and they work with other muscles to rotate your upper arm externally (away from the body).
The rotator cuff is made up of the teres minor, infraspinatus, supraspinatus, and subscapularis muscles. It’s called the rotator cuff because all of these muscles work with the deltoids to rotate the shoulder.
- The teres minor lies below the deltoid and runs underneath it to connect to the top of the humerus bone.
- The teres major is just below the teres minor, also connecting to the top of the humerus.
- The infraspinatus is made up of 3 strips of muscle that lie between the spine and the shoulder. The infraspinatus runs below the deltoid and on top of the teres minor and major.
- The subscapularis muscles are triangular and, as the name suggests, they lie under the scapulae (shoulder blades). These muscles are crucial for shoulder joint stability, working with the other muscles to rotate the head of the humerus internally and to prevent displacement.
These are the muscles we’re going to work today with The Square-Shoulders And Straight Back Press.
The key to this exercise’s effectiveness is the full range of motion involved. A University of Padova study found that the very motions described in this exercise – with your elbows extended a full 180 degrees – stimulated some of the key muscle groups I just described, particularly the anterior, lateral, and posterior deltoid and the teres minor.1
Now that you know which muscles you’re working, let’s look at how to do it.
How: You’ll need two dumbbells of a comfortable weight (I like to use five pound dumbbells) or two food cans to do this exercise.
Beginner’s Shoulder And Back Straightener
This version is also good if you have lower back problems. You’ll need a bench or chair to sit on.
- Sitting down, hold a weight in each hand.
- Raise your arms with your arms bent so your elbows are just below shoulder height.
- Palms should be facing out.
- Press the weights upward until your arms are straight up over your head. Hold for a few seconds.
- Slowly lower back to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times for one set, and do 3 sets (you can work up to this of course).
For the advanced version, you’ll perform the same moves except you’ll be standing up.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Raise your arms with arms bent so your elbows are just below shoulder height.
- Palms facing out.
- Engage your core muscles and raise the weights above your head and hold for a few seconds.
- Slowly lower your arms back to the starting position.
- Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
I mentioned earlier that I like to do this posture exercise and last week’s in sequence. That’s because it’s important to combine exercises for maximum benefit, covering as many key muscle groups as possible.
Posture-enhancing exercises are absolutely crucial for bone health, but to keep bones strong and fracture-resistant, you also need weight-bearing and resistance exercises.
In the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System, you’ll find all types of targeted moves, so you can tackle your bone density increase from all angles.
It includes postural, resistance and weight-bearing exercises to do more than building optimal bone density. You’ll notice an improved posture, stronger muscles and increased flexibility.
Densercise takes you through a month’s worth of bone-building exercises in just 15 minutes a day, three days a week.
To add variety and interest, I like to practice the Weekend Challenge exercises on the days I am not Densercising.
So if you haven’t yet, please check out the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System today!
Have a great weekend!
P.S. I’m happy to announce, that by popular demand, printing our articles just got a lot ‘greener’. If you’d like to have your Save Our Bones articles in print format, you can do so and save a lot of paper and ink in the process! To access the new feature, simply click the grey ‘Print’ button below. This is just another way that Save Our Bones continues to serve our growing community of Savers!
1 Paoli A, et al. “Influence of different ranges of motion on selective recruitment of shoulder muscles in the sitting military press: an electromyographic study.” J Strength Cond Res; 2010 Jun;24(6):1578-83.