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.
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!