Play posture dominoes to find your ideal strength training starting point

Your static posture is a blueprint for how your body will function during transitional and dynamic movements. It is so important to have postural control and be aware of the position of your major joint complexes and core musculature when starting a strength training program. With consistent practice, the idea is to train your neuromuscular system to automatically default to a neutral postural position without having to consciously put forth effort. Here are some basic cues to follow. It helps to stand in front of a mirror to notice what happens with each engagement, starting with the feet and moving upward to the cervical spine. Each step creates the next engagement, like dominoes.

  1. Feet should be underneath your hips, parallel to one another and facing forward.
  2. Create a gentle external, rotational torque with your hips, without your feet moving.
  3. With this torque, you should feel your glute contract. Hold onto that gentle activation.
  4. As your glute contracts, it will put your pelvis in a neutral position, as its job is to support and stabilize the pelvis and spine.
  5. Moving up to the core musculature, begin a gentle bracing maneuver, a tightening of the abdominals. This will also set your rib cage.
  6. Your shoulders should be externally rotated, also creating a gentle torque and protecting the shoulder joint complex.
  7. Align your ears over your shoulders by tucking your chin slightly. When you tuck your chin, your head will position itself over your shoulders and not be protruding forward.

Practice makes perfect, and practice makes habit with little effort. By starting lifts in this engaged stance, you will be able to create more force and power and also protect your joints from altered mechanics that can lead to injuries. Make an effort to be in this neutral position when you’re standing in lines or simply chatting with a friend.

Tip shared by Jesse Kepka, certified personal trainer and owner of Elevate Fitness. Each week, we publish a health and wellness tip that is shared at the Make Fitness A Priority community workout. The free group class happens every Saturday at 7:50 a.m.

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