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5 of The Best Exercises to Improve Posture (Follow Along)

Today, we’re going through some the best posture exercises. Because it turns our default resting position is pretty important if we’re looking to move and perform as well as we can…

If you’re looking to improve your posture, it’s worth examining your daily habits.Take sitting for ages as an example. It’s not ideal, usually leaving the hip flexors tight and switching off the glutes, which anteriorly tilts the pelvis and can result in lower back pain.

If, we instead spend most of our day active and rarely sit in one static position, a ‘healthier’ resting posture is probably going to come more naturally. 

But that advice doesn’t help us right now if we’re stuck feeling hunched over and uncomfortable! 

We’ll explore a few important habit changes we can make another time, but first I want to dig into some of the best exercises to improve posture. Things you can use right away to feel and move better.

I’ve selected them as I feel like they give the most bang for their buck – opening up the key areas that most of us are tight though, and strengthening the bits that tend to be weak.

Perform this routine 3-5x a week or add some of the posture exercises into your workouts, and you’ll be saying sayonara to the slouch in no time.

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❓How I Selected the Best Posture Exercises

If you’re wondering how to improve your posture, it’s important to first realise this:

We don’t all have the same mobility restrictions and posture challenges. There’s never going to be a one-size-fits-all posture workout. 

That being said, as a result of modern habits (yeah sitting, I’m talking about you again…) there does seem to be a few common themes that the vast majority of us could benefit from addressing, including:

  • Forward head posture
  • Rounded shoulders
  • Weakness through the mid back
  • Tightness through the hip flexors
  • Sleepy glutes
  • Stiff ankles

If you’re a human being, chances are, one or more of the above apply to you.

So my thought process going into this article was this:

To put together a collection of the very best posture exercises to help you address all of the above, in less than 10 minutes a day.
 

🏋️‍♂️The 3R Mobility Method For Lasting Changes

As I touched on in a previous guide on improving mobility and flexibility, one of the more effective protocols I’ve found for making lasting changes is the 3R Mobility Method:

  1. Realize – assessing (and reassessing) our positioning & movements.
  2. Release – releasing any tissues that are holding undue tension.
  3. Reinforce – strengthening weakened areas or movements.
My goal with the following posture exercises was essentially to combine steps 2 & 3.
 
The result?
 
A collection of loaded posture stretches and activation drills that help release overly tight tissues but also reinforce a stable position and build strength.
 
So you don’t have to spend hours humping your foam roller like a weirdo in the corner of the gym, and you can make long term improvements to your posture.
 
Sound good?
 
Then let’s take a look at the drills…

"Good posture can be successfully acquired only when the entire mechanism of the body is under perfect control.”

Follow Along Mobility Workout to Improve Posture

You can follow along with the whole routine with the video below, or scroll down to view each posture exercise in more detail.

In Detail: The 5 Best Exercises to Improve Posture

A detailed breakdown of five of the best exercises to improve posture (plus two bonus mobility drills).

Exercise 1: Chin Tucks

20-30 reps

Best posture exercises chin tucks

Why?

Chin tucks are excellent at strengthening weak neck flexors, reversing a forward head posture, and giving me a beautiful double chin.

How?

  • Stand in a stable position – core lightly engaged, shoulders relaxed, tongue resting on the roof of your mouth, and a slight lift up through the top of the head.
  • Engage the tuck by gliding your head up and back. You’ll likely feel the muscles in the front of your neck activate.
  • Hold that tucked position for a second before gliding forwards and repeating the process.
  • Try to keep your eyes level with the horizon as you glide forward and back.

Progression: Loop a resistance band behind your head, holding it taut with both hands. Glide back into the resistance.

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Exercise 2: Wall Slides

20-30 reps

Why?

Wall slides are another great way to reinforce a neutral head position. They’re also excellent for restoring motion through the scapula (shoulder blades) and thoracic (mid-back).

How?

  • Stand with your feet a few inches from a wall, your head and back flat against it and arms out to the side.
  • Aim for a 90 degree bend at the elbows and palms facing in or forwards – whatever feels most comfortable.
  • Make sure there’s no space between your lower back and the wall. You might need to walk your feet further away and bend your knees to do this.
  • Start the movement by sliding your arms up overhead, keeping the arms, your entire back, and head in contact with the wall at all times.
  • Aim to get the elbows fully extended and arms straight up overhead.
  • Slowly slide the arms back down, trying to touch your elbows towards your hips.
  • Breathe freely throughout – deep into the abdomen, in and out through the nose.
 
Progression: Get your heels flat against the wall. You can also play with adding some resistance with very light weights or resistance bands.

Regression: If you can’t maintain that contact between the lower back and the wall, try walking your feet further away and bending your knees.

Exercise 3: Shoulder YTL

10-20 reps per position

Why?

Great for strengthening the rotator cuff and reinforcing a more stable shoulder position.

I’ve found that this variation also helps to engage the posterior chain and is great way to practice core stability and diaphragmatic breathing (a la Foundation Training).

How?

  • Start with a hip hinge – stable through the core, spine long and feet screwed into the ground.
  • Y Raise – Thumbs up and arms straight. Reach both arms overhead, allowing the shoulder blades to upwardly rotate. 
  • T Raise – Palms facing down, raise your arms out to the side. Squeeze the shoulder blades together at the top. 
  • L Raise – Arms out to the side, elbows bent at 90 and palms down. Externally rotate at the shoulder, keeping the elbows high and allowing the scapula to slighty upwardly rotate.  

Progression: Add weight with some light dumbbells or bands.

Regression: If the hinge is too much on the lower back, you can also use a bench or steady surface to support your weight. 

Exercise 4: Rotation Lunges

10-20 reps per side

Why?

Rotational lunges are one of my all time favourite drills. They do a great job of opening up tight hip flexors whilst simultaneously activating the core and glutes.

We also get to wring out a boat load of tension through the mid back with a few forms of thoracic rotation.

How?

  • From a stable standing position, step back with your left leg. Keep the same width stance (think about standing on train tracks as opposed to a tight rope)
  • Keeping your core tight and rear glute activated, sink your hips back and down.
  • Placing your rear knee on the floor, shift the hips forward and down, keeping tension on the glute and core.
  • Place your left hand on the floor (inside your right foot) and rotate the opposite way towards the sky.
Progression: Adding a band into the hip capsule to distract the joint can often increase the effectiveness of the movement. I like attaching the band to something behind me and have it loop right in the hip crease.

Regression: Leave your rear knee on the floor for the starter version.

Exercise 5: Decline Calf Raises

20-30 reps

Why?

Decline calf raises are a great way to improve dorsiflexion at the ankle (often limited from wearing shoes with a heel) whilst helping to create ankle stability and strength.

How?

  • Stand with the balls of your feet on a raised surface. Feet hips width and arches formed.
  • With control, push up onto the balls of your feet, trying to prevent your ankles from collapsing in or out.
  • After a brief pause at the top, slowly lower so your heels go below parallel. this is where you get the deep stretch on the calf and achilles area.
Progression: You can hold onto a weight or place a barbell on your back.

Regression: If you struggle with the balance, hold onto something sturdy or use a stick to help keep you steady. 

BONUS Exercise 1: Single Leg Glute Bridge

20-30 reps per side

Why?

As you might expect, the single leg glute bridge is excellent for reactivating the glutes after hours of sitting.

It’s also a useful drill to practice engaging the core in order to effectively stabilise the pelvis.

How?

  • Lay on your back with your feet hips-width apart, feet forward and firmly planted on the floor. You can have your back flat on the floor, or elevated onto a bench for grater range of motion. 
  • Tuck your tailbone under (engaging your glutes and core) and bring one knee up towards your chest.
  • Drive your hips upwards off the other leg, keeping the tailbone tucked and core engaged to stabilise the pelvis.
  • Slowly lower back to the floor and repeat. 
Progression: You can add weight to the glute bridge or perform more explosive reps for more of a challenge.

Regression: If you’re really struggling with the balance, feel free to regress to the standard two leg glute bridge.

BONUS Exercise 2: Serratus Wall Slides

20-30 reps

Why?

The Serratus Anterior is often underdeveloped which can lead to an inability to properly stabilise, protract and upwardly rotate the scapula. 

This can have knock-on effects on shoulder health and the mid back, often leading to scapula winging.

How?

  • Place your forearms on the wall, shoulder width apart. You can also use a roller or furniture sliders to reduce friction. Press into the wall slightly to activate the Serratus Anterior, protracting the shoulder blades. 
  • Encourage external rotation at the shoulders by placing your hands wider than your elbows.
  • With a neutral spine or slightly flexed (rounded) thoracic, slowly slide your forearms up the wall, maintaining forward pressure + breathing into the mid back. 
  • Try your best not to compensate by elevating the scapula (shrugging your shoulders). We’re instead looking to focus on upward rotation. 
  • This isn’t a big movement. When you hit your end range, slowly reverse back to the start.
Progression: Loop a light resistance band around your mid back and grasp one end in each hand, maintaining tension on the band through out the movement. 

Over to you!

So there we have it – 5 of the best bang for your buck posture exercises. Give the routine a go or try out each drill separately, and let me know how you get on!

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Luke Jones

Luke Jones

Luke Jones is a Movement Coach, Wellness Enthusiast, Online Content Creator, and Founder of HERO Movement. Through articles, videos, courses, and online coaching, his big goal is to help people discover freedom of movement and create lives filled with well-being & adventure.

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