Rolled over, stooped, hunched shoulders is a very,very common problem with beginning and intermediate bodybuilders. We are going to talk about what causes it and how to fix it. Often its not a posture issue which can be fixed just by thinking about it and holding yourself in a certain position but rather a muscular imbalance.
Here is an example of what it looks like:
Bad posture is never good for the body but its equally bad for the appearance and rolled over shoulders is no exception. If your shoulders are rolled over, it makes your chest looks smaller, your shoulders narrower, and makes you look ape because of the what happens to your arm positioning – more on that later.
In bodybuilders, rolled over, hunched shoulders is often from an exercise induced muscular imbalance. The most common way this happens is with people who just do bench press and bicep curls. They get these huge strong pecs but don’t develop any muscles on their back to help counteract the pecs so their shoulders get pulled forward forward and toward each other causing their torso to cup forward.
If you are not sure if over-strong pecs are your problem, check this out. Stand relaxed with your hands at your sides and then look where your thumbs are pointing. If your chest, shoulder, and back muscles are well balanced then your thumbs will point forward or slightly inward. If when standing at rest your thumbs point inward so you are dragging your knuckles then you muscles are seriously out of balance. If your pecs are strong out of proportion then they pull your shoulders forward like this:
So, if you are guilty of being bench press focused and building massive pecs, but nothing else then here is what you can do to fix your shoulder rounding problem:
- Stop working out chest till the rest of your torso catches up!
- Do reverse flys
- Do “Face Rows”. This can be done with a barbell, cables, or resistance bands. The key is to pull toward your face (not your chest or waist). While your are pulling, keep your shoulders down and back.
- Do bent over shrugs. Bend over 90 degrees at the waist and let the barbell hang from your arms. Without bending your elbows, raise the bar as high as you can. See why its called a bent over shrug? Same exact motion as a normal shrug but 90 degrees the opposite direction.
- Be conscious of your posture, practice holding it.
For many office workers who dont work out with weights, the cause of hunched shoulders can be sitting hunched over a keyboard all day. The solution for is the same though: exercise those muscles which pull the shoulders back. In my opinion, its not an issue of stretching. Virtually everyone is limber enough that they can hold their shoulders in the proper position. The issue is increasing the strength of the muscles which hold the shoulders back so that when at rest, the shoulders find the proper position. There are other causes of hunched, rolled over shoulders that are not muscular imbalance. For example, older people spines can actually bend and roll over forward because of the kyphosis associated with osteoporosis. For them, exercise will not help at all straightening them out but the exercises if done beforehand can prevent or reduce the severity of the kyphosis.
The best way to solve this is to keep this from happening in the first place. So please don’t be a bench-monkey, workout your whole body and not just chest! If you are just starting bodybuilding let this be a lesson to you about the importance of working out ALL muscles, not just ones you want to look good for that date on Saturday night.