We spend most of our day in front of us. Hands on keyboards. Eyes looking forward and down at phones. Arms up in front hanging onto the steering wheel. Cooking dinner, washing dishes, shaking hands, holding babies, shoveling, hammering, mowing, putting on makeup, oh my freakin’ goodness… almost everything.
As a result, our anterior (front) chest and shoulders get tight and can cause us to acquire that semi Quasimodo-type posture. You know what I’m talking about.
Then we go into the gym hit some bench press, some push-ups, maybe jump on the bike and again just reinforce the same position. I am not saying those exercises or movements are bad, in fact I think they are really good, but we have to do something to compliment all that pushing.
We can fight to sit up straighter, pull our shoulders back and be conscious of our position while doing all the activities listed above. But, while it’s incredibly important to be aware of our posture, we also need to strengthen the opposing muscles.
That is where horizontal pulling comes in. Horizontal pulling exercises strengthen the muscles in our back and shoulder that contribute to external shoulder rotation, scapular retraction and scapular depression.
Below are a few of my favorite horizontal pulling exercises. I recommend doing 2 horizontal pulling for every 1 horizontal pushing exercise for most people as a result of the lifestyle habits previously mentioned. These movements can be incorporated into strength sets (superset with a big lift) or as part of secondary work after your metcon or lifting session. I recommend doing 3 sets of 8-15 repetitions to stay in the hypertrophy range (muscle building).
Now, watch the videos below and start pulling. Let me know how it goes!
Body Row or Ring Row
Single Arm Bent Over Row
Banded Pull Apart (not technically a horizontal pull but achieves much of the same goal to help improve posture and shoulder health)