Stand Like You Mean It ~ By Coach Warren

Published February 13, 2017

Many of us sit for hours at a time with soft bellies and slouched shoulders.  By the time we finally decide to peel our butts from the chair, our glutes have turned off, our backs have rounded, and any semblance of good posture has been lost.  An hour later you’re warming up at the box for 1RM back squat day, and your coach is telling you to “get tight” after you’ve been a hunched over mess all day.  Chances are that won’t be a PR day.  If we don’t know how to independently brace our midline and set our shoulders without any load, it’s going to be very difficult to do so during a complex movement.  Most of us aren’t even aware that our posture is poor until we go through the bracing sequence, and get ourselves properly aligned.

Good posture all starts with the spine, and a stable core.  With a stable core, we can maximally transmit force to our shoulders and hips.  If we practice good posture while we stand, the more natural it will be when it comes time to set up for a press, snatch, or any other movement you can think of.   Good setup usually translates into a higher chance of making a lift, and the chance of injury is reduced.  But first we must learn to stand before we snatch, and we must make practicing good posture a daily habit.

The first step is setting our pelvis neutral.  We do this by setting our feet under our hips, screwing them into the ground, and squeezing our butt. Next you want to pull your ribcage down, thinking of balancing it over the now neutral pelvis.  We can lock this position in by tightening our abs, and keeping enough tension that you could receive a whack to the belly and not keel over.  This will allow us to move while disengaging our glutes, and not losing midline stability.  So think, set with the glutes and brace with the abs.

So now that we have a stable midline, we can set our head and shoulders.  Your ears should be in line with your shoulders, hips and ankles.  The shoulders are set by drawing the heads of our arm bones back and spreading the collarbone wide.  This creates an external rotation in the shoulders, and the thumbs will be facing away from the body if done correctly.  The tips of your shoulder blades should be reaching down towards your hips.

Now you should be standing tall and proud.  The key is to stay there throughout the day.  Good posture needs to become a habit, unless you were blessed in not having lost it in the first place.  But most of us have unlearned how to stand correctly.  We’ve also forgotten how to sit.  The easiest way to think about sitting properly is doing a box squat.  At the bottom of our box squat, we should have a straight back, vertical shins, and a tight stomach.  This is exactly how we want to sit.  Because it’s tiring keeping the abs engaged for a long amount of time, it’s important to stand every 20-30 minutes to reestablish that midline stability.  

Check in with your posture throughout the day.  Tell a buddy to periodically take an unexpected whack at your belly as a reminder.  Bracing our midline and setting our shoulders randomly in the grocery aisle may seem weird at first, but over time good posture will become automatic.  The worst that could happen is you’ll appear stronger, more confident, and dare I say sexier? So stand tall, puff out your chest a little, and stand like you mean it.

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