Is There a Link Between Posture & Muscle?

I’m a huge fan of improving posture. It may not be the most “hardcore” thing to focus on in a training program, however, it will turn your body into a hard-core machine. If you took a look at all the people in super hero movies you will find some commonalities. They are usually devilishly handsome, very muscular, big fans of Bony to Beastly and they all have great posture.

I get it. Your parents have already told you a thousand times to sit up straight, and I’m sure you’ve already heard that it improves the way you look, improves your performance, and maybe even that it improves your energy levels and how you feel.

Some people have even claimed that having great posture is why these actors are able to build muscle so quickly when they need to bulk up for their superhero movie roles.

But is there really a link between posture and muscle?

To start, there are a couple things that posture does to turn you into a dominant prehistoric beast.

The Golden Ratio

There is this thing called the “Golden Ratio”. This ratio is a mathematical equation that indicates proper symmetry of the body. Because I have the mathematical skills of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, I will not explain this equation and tell you instead that to adhere to the Golden Ratio, you need wide shoulders a narrow waist and a big butt. Any improvements you can make to any of those three areas, however small, will help.

The cool thing about this ratio is that it has actually been researched scientifically and they’ve concluded that people who come close to that ideal shoulder to waist ratio are deemed more attractive.

Now how does this apply to posture??

The cool thing with good posture, is that because it alters the way the muscles fire, it will naturally make the body use the muscles that make your shoulder to waist ratio more pronounced. So when you work out, it makes those muscles work more and in turn grow more (if you eat and recover properly).

For example, let’s say your pelvis is tilted forward. What happens is that now your belly actually looks bigger and it throws the ratio off.

Packing muscle on top of bad posture won’t necessarily fix the problem. Check out Willem before and after working on his posture. The second round of photos was taken 4 months after Willem became aware of his anterior pelvic tilt. His muscle measurements are virtually identical, but he looks way better:

Now if we looked at the upper body, if you had a rounded upper back and a forward head, you’ll notice that your shoulders are hunched inwards – again, throwing off the ratio because rounded shoulders give a narrower appearance.

However, when you can get your pelvis, spine and head in a better position, cool things start to happen.

Starting from the pelvis up, you’ll actually develop butt muscles. Say goodbye to pancake butt!

When the pelvis is in the right spot and the obliques are firing better, now you will pull your waist in and actually make it smaller.

If your upper back is straighter, it will significantly alter the firing patterns of the shoulder, making your upper back much thicker and wider. Since your shoulders will be in a better position, they will in turn develop to a better degree as well. Check out how round Willem’s shoulders are. This is largely because of his great shoulder rotation. His core is pulling his waist in tight, and he’s developed big powerful back muscles.

When the head is pulled in and on top of the spine, it will take a significant amount of tension of your traps and actually allow them to grow.

All in all – you get big shoulders, big upper back, small waist, big butt.

Golden ratio complete!

Balanced Musculature & Athleticism

Now this will obviously only happen if you train and eat nice too. It will make your training that much more effective because you will actually be developing the muscles that were meant to be developed. It is unnatural if you have big arms and small shoulders. Same goes with the legs—if you are all thighs and no butt, that can be a problem, especially if you play sports. Not to mention it looks funky, even if you can’t quite pinpoint why.

You’ll notice that Willem’s shoulders are larger than his arms and his glutes are larger than his thighs. This gives his body a nice hearty athletic appearance and allows him to perform optimally. (He’s big into cycling and rock climbing.)

Now on to the next cool thing about good posture.

How Posture Affects Your Energy Levels

I don’t know about you but sometimes I am really tired and looking for a quick energy boost. Judging by the success of companies like Starbucks and Red Bull, I’m guessing others feel the same. A lot. One of the coolest things that happened when my posture improved was that I had more energy all of the time. I could play sports for longer and train more without being as sore. This boggled my little brain. That being said I have some theories as to why this happens.

The body was designed to be as energy efficient as possible. However, since our bodies have been put through the meat grinder of daily sedentary living, we have lost our energy saving capabilities.

In essence, you are always fighting against gravity, and when your body is misaligned, it is fighting way more than it needs to be. In turn we feel more tired, muscles feel tight, and this takes a toll physically AND mentally.

When you get the body closer to it’s original form, you make it much more energy efficient and in turn, things that were once difficult will seem much easier.

Why does this happen?

In the body there are two types of muscles. If we are comparing it to car; there are engine muscles and steering muscles. Muscles that make the body move and muscles that keep the joints together.

They each fulfill their own specific roles to allow us to move with finesse and fluidity. However, when our posture is out of whack, we change those duties. In turn it makes all the steering muscles shut off. What happens next is that the engine muscles are like “hell nah, ain’t nobody up in here gon de-stabilize deez joints” and they pick up the slack of the steering muscles.

When you have the engine muscles pulling double duty, they will be working harder and longer with every task.

Think for a second that you had a full time job where you worked 9-5 and had a three day weekend + benefits. Now imagine the night shift worker quit and because you love the company you decided to take over their job. Since you never have time to sleep or recover, every single other task you do becomes more difficult. Now imagine someone cuts you off on the road on your way to work. You will definitely have less patience than usual and might do something a little zany.

That’s kind of how the ol’ muscles work.

So when you improve posture, it’s like bringing the night-shift worker back. You give the engine muscles time to rest and recover, and in turn they reward you by improving your appearance and making you move your body with much more ease! This means you can focus your attention on being a badass.

To Conclude

My posture improvements have transferred incredibly on the athletic field, however, it has been a sweet bonus that I’m getting more muscles in the right places with less work. Not only that—I have more energy!

When something has that much power, I can’t ignore it.

Yes, it may sometimes seem vain if look at it in only an aesthetic sense, but a lot of times when things look right they perform right. So whether you’re training to feel like a beast or look like a beast, improving your posture can help you achieve both to the fullest!

Comments or questions? Drop ’em below!

About Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS

Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS, is a certified strength coach with an honours degree in health sciences from the University of Ottawa. Before co-founding Bony to Beastly and Bony to Bombshell, Marco specialized in helping college, professional, and Olympic athletes bulk up. Now he helps people gain muscle mass and strength to improve their health and performance.

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  1. Conor on July 24, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    My posture is appalling…. Do you address posture specifically in the program as well??? Or does good posture come as a result of lifting with correct form? I am definitely interested in signing up for this program once I can get some money together.

    • Shane Duquette on July 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      Marco’s big into posture and alignment (as you can see from this article). The Bony to Beastly program shoots to muscle you up as quickly as possible while also fixing up your posture and making you as strong as an ox.
      Lifting with good form is really important too, and proper alignment is a big part of being ABLE to lift with good form. If you don’t have a strong core you’re going to have a lot of trouble deadlifting a lot of weight safely, and if your shoulder alignment is off it’s going to be a big limiting factor when it comes to bench pressing.
      And haha don’t worry—we’ve all had pretty appalling posture in the past. We’re waaay better off now, but all three of us still work to further improve upon our posture.

  2. THE TRAIN on July 25, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Great article. Makes sense!
    Funny, my wife has been telling me to work on my posture for the longest time. This was one of the selling points for me. A program that focused on posture as well as building muscles.

    • Shane Duquette on July 25, 2012 at 9:21 pm

      Haha right on. Judging by your already pretty decent before pics, I think we’ll be able to fix ya up in no time. We’ve got one beastly husband/dad in the making 🙂

  3. […] We place a lot of emphasis on lifting heavy and adding mass, but we also dig building wickedly functional, strong and aesthetic bodies, so we always round out our workouts with some quick postural exercises. (More on posture here) […]

  4. hamed on July 22, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    thanx for every thing
    i was need this program
    goooooooooo for strong body

    • Shane Duquette on November 1, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      No problem Hamed, glad you’re liking it 😀

  5. Darryl on November 1, 2013 at 11:09 am

    I’ve had some pretty bad posture for as long as i can remember but recently after reading this and doing some of my own research I’ve been trying my best to sit straight when I catch myself slouching but I run into problems after about 10-15 minutes of sitting straight my back and neck start to hurt pretty bad what should i do?

    • Shane Duquette on November 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      Be a little more patient!

      Our bodies have spent a long time gradually adapting to our (degraded) posture. We develop compensation patterns and learn to support ourselves in our poor posture rather well.

      When we all of a sudden force our bodies into optimal posture (or what we think optimal posture is) all of a sudden we’re maladapted to maintain it. Ironically, though our posture is better than ever, we’re actually LESS stable – initially.

      Building up beastly posture is gradual, so don’t be discouraged if your body resists it a little bit at first. Perhaps just take a slightly slower pace, lower your standard of perfection (for now) and give yourself plenty of breaks.

      When it comes to re-adapting to functional posture, you may find that strengthening yourself helps.

      Things like loaded carries (farmer carries, one-armed farmer carries, waiter walks, etc.), planks, deadlifts, rows, etc. – they all help strengthen your muscles in a way that will help develop the stability that you’ll need to have rock solid posture.

      Lifting in a “natural” way through healthy ranges of motion can help too.

      Good luck man! You’ll get there 🙂

      • Darryl on November 11, 2013 at 10:22 pm

        I can tell slightly after trying your suggestions man they are helping thanks alot!!! “Stay Beast!”

    • Marco Walker-Ng on November 1, 2013 at 11:26 pm

      If you are just sitting, I like to change one thing at a time, starting with the center and most powerful portion of your body, which is your pelvis.

      We think we need to stand super straight with shoulders back … but doing so can be painful and lead to an unnatural posture. Slouching a bit is ok.

      If you are sitting, relax your body and try to pull your two pelvic bones lightly up to your ribs, do so very lightly until you feel a very easy contraction of your abs. This should make sitting feel a little more comfortable and start the ripple effect that leads to better posture over time! Give it a try and let us know how it works 🙂

      • Darryl on November 11, 2013 at 10:22 pm

        Thanks Marco!

  6. Saurabh Sharma on November 27, 2013 at 9:40 am

    A big cheers for you guys. The articles that are presnt on this site are really a great help for all the ectomorphs out there and the guidance that you provide is worth of all praise and applaud. Thanks for guidance guys and Gud luck..Keep going. !!!

    • Shane Duquette on November 27, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      Thank you Saurabh. Really glad we could help 🙂

  7. hlsui on February 3, 2015 at 7:35 pm


    • Shane Duquette on February 3, 2015 at 7:55 pm

      That is a very very very complicated answer. One that there may not even be a definitive answer to.

      Marco’s been taking postural courses these past couple years though, and we’re planning on writing more about it soon 🙂

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