Article last updated: November 2019 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
Before I started training properly I used to have rounded shoulders.
The rounded shoulders were a result of long periods of sitting down at a desk.
The problem with any postural problem including rounded shoulders is three-fold:
- Your posture looks submissive instead of dominant. This makes other people perceive you as a weaker person.
- A submissive posture leads to a lower natural testosterone production and testosterone is the main muscle building hormone in your body. This means you will get less return-on-investment from your muscle building workouts.
- Your risk of injury increases a lot because you’re performing every exercise from the wrong position.
So how do you correct rounded shoulders in the fastest and easiest way possible?
First and foremost you need to know what not to do.
When I had rounded shoulders people kept telling me to pull back my shoulders and be mindful of my posture when I sit down.
This solution doesn’t work because it requires you to consciously force yourself all the time to maintain a posture that feels unnatural to you.
The real solution is to make good posture feel natural to you.
This can only be done through stretching and strengthening the right muscles.
In the case of rounded shoulders, you have to strengthen the rear shoulders while stretching out the chest muscles.
When you do this on a regular basis, your shoulders naturally pull back and you won’t even have to force yourself to keep them back.
You should feel a huge difference within just 2-3 weeks of doing this.
Here are the exercises to perform for rear shoulders:
- DB Reverse Flyes
- Face Pulls
- Reverse Flyes on the Pec Deck Machine
You can perform exercises for the rear delts while resting between sets on your pushing exercises.
For example, you can combine diamond push ups with DB Reverse Flyes or face pulls.
The rep range I recommend for rear delts is varied.
Make sure you hit both the lower reps (5-8) and the slightly higher reps (9-15) on a regular basis.
This will give you the most complete development.
I wouldn’t go below 5 reps or over 15 reps.
The great thing about rear delts is that it’s a small muscle group that recovers very fast.
This means you can train it every day.
Doing 5-10 sets of rear delts will take you less than 10 min each day to perform and they have the highest return-on-investment of anything you can do to correct rounded shoulders.
In addition to correcting your rounded shoulders, training the rear delts will give you much wider and fuller looking shoulders.
The thing about the rear delts is that it’s the only part of the shoulders that doesn’t get stimulated with compound exercises.
When you do overhead presses, diamond push ups and other big pushing exercises, you work the front and medial delts to some degree, however the rear delts get almost 0 work.
The only way to start developing the rear delts is to isolate them and this leads me to the next point.
When people train the rear delts, they often use a weight that is too heavy (and bad technique).
While a heavy weight is necessary to get maximum development on the rear delts, the majority of development you get on the rear delts is by using a lighter weight with perfect form.
As a result, it’s important that you take the time to perfect your technique on the 3 rear delt exercises I mentioned earlier.
Watch instructional videos on YouTube and record yourself to compare your technique until you’ve nailed it down 100%.
So how about the chest stretches?
The chest stretches should be seen as a “bonus” that gives you that 15-20% boost when the rear delt work is done.
You simply perform a few sets of standing chest stretches, each for around 30 seconds after every workout and when you wake up.
Be proud but stay hungry!
Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer