Fix shoulder misalignment: How to properly combine chest and back training

Of all the joints in our body, the shoulder joint offers by far the greatest range of motion. This is extremely practical, but it also makes the shoulder a hotspot for injuries and poor posture.

The latter occur in particular as a result of one-sided loads. In everyday life, the hands are used a lot in front of the body, pulling movements are chronically neglected.

Working at the desk alone leads to local shortenings in the shoulder joint capsule as well as underdeveloped muscles on the back (rear delta muscles, trapezius muscles and various other muscles of the upper back) and thus to the most common posture error of this time: protruding, twisted shoulders.

The shoulders hang forward, the arms are rotated in, the palms point more backwards instead of each other. The cause of this shoulder malposition is an underdeveloped back (compared to the chest muscles and anterior deltas).

A clean posture is demonstrated by keeping your upper body straight and your palms facing each other when you let your arms dangle. Rounded and twisted shoulders cause the upper body to “slump” and thus lead to tension and limited power transmission.

It is therefore important to move and stabilize the shoulder joint over its full circumference , to develop it further in all directions of movement.

Because this shoulder misalignment can be corrected primarily by back and chest training being brought back into a healthy balance. Additional physiotherapeutic exercises (face-pulls and the like) that are currently flooding YouTube are NOT necessary! As the name suggests, they only serve as a supplement. Hanging is one of the most useful supplementary exercises. The essential work in posture correction, however, is achieved by balancing of pulling and pushing BASIC EXERCISES !

The overemphasis on pressing exercises

… provides for an ENHANCEMENT of the shoulder misalignment. The real cause lies in an unbalanced everyday life. Training should compensate for this cause, but instead it often only makes the problem worse because it is also unbalanced.

Because men in particular tend to concentrate primarily on pressing movements in the studio. Bench press, dips, push-ups. Pulling movements such as pull-ups, bodyweight rows, barbell rows, deadlifts and more complex lifts such as power cleans eke out a shadowy existence, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

You basically shoot yourself in the leg, because since humans learned to walk upright (it’s been a while …), from a functional point of view, the back muscles are much more important for a strong, healthy musculoskeletal system than the chest muscles !

You can already tell from the pure anatomy. Essentially, the chest muscles are made up of three muscles (large pectoral muscle, small pectoral muscle, and sawtooth muscle). There are also smaller secondary muscles that are included, but overall you have significantly fewer muscles in your chest than in your back and these muscles also have a significantly lower volume.

Pulling something in yourself or yourself into something is one of the most basic movement patterns of all and should be prioritized accordingly in your training if you Want to correct shoulder misalignments and prevent injuries.

The right combination of chest and back training

This also gives rise to the instructions for balanced back training.

Maintenance: exercises for chest and back at a ratio of 1: 1

Means: At least one pulling movement must be completed for each pushing movement.

This is the minimum dose to preserve the current posture.

If there are already postural problems, these will hardly be improved by the minimum dose. And to be honest: Which normal adult has no bad posture in the shoulder? I haven’t had a single client who had a really balanced shoulder in their natural posture. This affects men and women equally (the first, however, tends to be a bit stronger).

Some had larger, some smaller shifts in the optimal position of the shoulder joint , but adaptations as a result of an unbalanced everyday life were already evident in all of them. This is what modern life brings with it, if you don’t take countermeasures .

The optimal ratio of chest and back exercises

In order to correct existing misalignments of the shoulder and to center it again on your posture, the rear muscles must be challenged more than the front ones.

Means: More pulling than pushing movements. Basically you can’t do “too much” pulling exercises in relation to pushing exercises.

At least I’ve never seen anyone whose shoulders were too backward. This is why the following applies to healthy back training that also corrects posture errors: Do at least one more exercise for the back than for the chest.

This is the approach I take personally and with my clients, and it is designed to be used for a lifetime.

By the way, experience has shown that it is quite difficult to over-train the upper back. It is naturally designed for a high volume and frequency of stress.

The quality makes the difference

It is not only the number of exercises that is decisive, but also the quality of the execution!

I keep observing that both muscle groups (chest and back) are worked on in a quantitatively balanced way, but with considerable differences in terms of quality.

While working enthusiastically and with maximum effort in the bench press, pull-ups, for example, are only viewed as a supplement – according to the motto “close your eyes and go through”.

This can also cause imbalances! The quality of the repetitions is at least as important as the quantity.

From a functional point of view, your focus should definitely be on your back first. In order to guarantee this, I have switched to my clients always first pulling and only then performing a pushing movement.

This sequence of exercises helps immensely, because you are even fresher during the pulling exercise and can hang out more.

By the way: if you ask me, the back also plays an important role in terms of aesthetics. Rule of thumb: The narrower you are at the top, the wider you appear at the bottom.

Conversely, broad shoulders make the hips appear narrower and give them a more athletic look. The classic disco pumper look (chest + biceps) is a discontinued model.

The trend is to combine aesthetics with functionality, fitness and health – that is, to a body that knows how to keep what it optically promises. And nothing exudes this more than a strong, stable back with a healthy posture!


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