In a great majority of athletic events and real-life tasks, a ramrod straight posture, or at least its approximation, greatly improves the efficiency. So get your carcass rebalanced.
A common recommendation for improving posture is to row. Yet you can row until you are blue in the face, but unless you have excellent thoracic mobility, you will fail to balance out your development and could get hurt in the process.
Does it make sense to load a movement one cannot perform without extra load? Would you put a barbell on the shoulders of a person who cannot do a single competent bodyweight squat? The answer, of course, is no. By the same token, if you are unable to open your chest up with no external resistance, you should not be rowing with weights.
You need to overcome the fascia’s and other tissues’ internal resistance first. Various soft tissue work will help. So would a stretch with a yoga block.
Lie down on the floor with a wooden block the size of a brick under your upper back. The block is strategically placed at a specific spot to ensure you are stretching where it should. You need to hang out there for a long time to allow your shortened tissues to “ooze” over the block. The head is supported by a folded towel that limits cervical extension and lets one hang out longer. Many minutes later, slowly roll to your side rather than sit up.
There are subtleties to this. You are well advised to see a yoga expert.
Two powerful posture improving drills from the SFG curriculum are the kettlebell arm bar and the windmill. (you can see them below)
Once you have sufficient passive flexibility to have good posture—you can assume the posture, you just cannot hold it long—it is time to strengthen the right muscles. This is where rows and such come in. But chances are, you will not even need to bother with rows and will get the job done with the kettlebell ultra basics alone, the goblet squat and the one-arm swing. (see below again)
The goblet squat forces you to raise your chest and the swing pulls the shoulder blades together and extends the entire posterior chain, from the base of your skull to your heels.
A little attention to opening yourself up will go a long way toward getting more speed, strength, precision, and endurance out of your muscles—with no added effort. As a martial arts master said, “Posture is balance and balance is power.”
Pavel Tsatsouline, Founder and Chairman of StrongFirst, Inc.
He is the pioneer of the modern ‘kettlebell revolution’ in the West. Before Pavel, the kettlbell was an obscure piece of fitness equipment found only in Russia or Eastern Europe. Now, the kettlebell is common in gyms, martial arts studios and garages around the world.
Pavel was educated in Sports Science and earned the title ‘Master of Sports’ from the former Soviet Union. He used this background to train Russia’s elite special operations unit, the Spetsnatz in the 1980’s.
The ‘Kettlebell Revolution’ in the West was launched in 1998 when Pavel wrote an article “Vodka, Pickle Juice, Kettlebell Lifting and Other Russain Pastimes” that was published by MILO, a magazine for professional strongmen. This lead to other magazine articles and eventually his ground-breaking book ‘The Russain Kettlebell Challenge.’ (published by DragonDoor, his original publisher)
In 2001, Pavel launched the first kettlebell instructor course in the United States: the ‘Russian Kettlebell Challenge.’ This course was the first of it’s kind and it changed the landscape of the fitness industry forever.
In 2012, Pavel left the RKC and formed StrongFirst, Inc. He wanted to build a company focused on the pursuit and spreading of strength. He built our instructor team, chose our leadership team, refined our kettlebell curriculum and established the culture of StrongFirst, Inc. He didn’t stop there. Thanks to the addition of our barbell and bodyweight curriculum, we are now more than a ‘kettlebell instructor program.’ We are ‘The School of Strength.’
Pavel changed the fitness industry. He is an author, businessman, martial artist and most importantly a lifelong ‘Student of Strength.’