Bicep curls performed correctly can help improve your posture.

Barbells, biceps and better posture

One thing I will say about being a personal trainer is that you are always learning, whether you mean to or not. I know I’ve written other columns on improving posture and the common occurrence of head forward, rounded shoulder posture.

One thing I will say about being a personal trainer is that you are always learning, whether you mean to or not.

I know I’ve written other columns on improving posture and the common occurrence of head forward, rounded shoulder posture.

Today I wanted to share with you something I’ve recently found to be instantly effective in improving my clients posture.

If you are not familiar with head forward posture run to the mirror and glance quickly at your standing profile, there’s a good chance it’s affecting you.

You’ll quickly be able to identify it by noting the appearance of a rounded upper back, the front of the shoulder seemingly protruding out sometimes creating a concave appearance of the chest and the ears sitting forward of the bony top of the shoulder.

Head forward posture notoriously is associated with headaches, back pain and rotator cuff injuries. With all the time we spend looking at screens these days it becomes quite easy to see why this type of posture is the most common. We spend a large part of our lives in this position.

Traditionally as trainers we educated people on the anatomy and movements of the upper back, why they are weak and the opposing muscles on the front of the body are overly strong in relation. We taught people row movements, retraction movements and all kinds of things.

What we haven’t done is encouraged bicep curls, and from a purely technical perspective, we shouldn’t.

Here’s where I contradict myself. The bicep is also often one of the many related culprits to head forward posture. As the bicep shortens it pulls our shoulders forward. The stronger it becomes the more it pulls.

There is a large muscle that originates on the back side of the shoulder blade, between the shoulder blade and the ribs, it’s called Serratus.

The serratus muscle wraps around our ribcage and attaches to a number of ribs on the front side of our body. One of the neat things that serratus does (or is supposed to do) is actually flatten the shoulder blades against the rib cage.

As things like our chest muscle and biceps get stronger and pull our shoulders forward the ability of serratus to perform this function decreases. This is where all the rowing and retraction movements come from as fitness experts like myself try to improve your posture.

Unfortunately if it’s not working properly it’s very difficult for your brain to fire this muscle and make it start working properly, I mean it’s basically forgotten how.

Your brain has now become very comfortable with the idea of recruiting other muscles to do these tasks since it’s not generally a major or common exertion we do so for many years.

Now in the typical sense as mentioned above the bicep curl compounds this problem but if performed the way I am about to explain it’s also the thing that will help you feel, recruit and understand exactly what should be happening with serratus muscle to rapidly improve your posture.

Start with a shoulder width grib on a barbell, use a weight that’s light enough that you could easily perform 20 bicep curls with.

Now before starting the movement concentrate on lifting the chest up and squeezing the lower tips of the shoulder blades together. Your shoulders should not elevate at all as you do this.

Now as you perform the bicep curl don’t allow your shoulders to move, it will feel very different, much more difficult and you will feel the muscle on the underside of your shoulder blade tire long before your biceps.

You are feeling the muscle fibres of your serratus and lower trapezius firing, both critical for the improvement of head forward posture.

Repeat this for three sets of fifteen repetitions 1-2 times per week. Admittedly this is often easier if someone knowledgeable helps you position your shoulder blades and keeps their hands on your shoulder blades to detect movement while you perform the exercise.

Maybe bicep curls can lead to better posture afterall.

Cabel McElderry is a local personal trainer and nutrition coach. For more information on fitness and nutrition, visit the Fitness F/X website at

Just Posted

Spring book sale this weekend in Red Deer

Red Deerians can get lost in a world of inexpensive books this… Continue reading

Central Alberta wildlife rehab facility not prepared to take orphaned bear cubs, yet

It’s been about eight years since the Medicine River Wildlife Centre was… Continue reading

Regional sewage line moving ahead despite concerns

Cost sharing among concerns of municipalities involved in Sylvan Lake-to-Red Deer sewage line

Red Deer family who lost everything in house fire begin rebuilding

Couple had moved into north-end home only two days before basement fire

Tory Leader Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by Maxime Bernier

MONTREAL — Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by former Tory… Continue reading

WATCH: Fine wine and food at Red Deer College

The Red Deer College Alumni Association hosted its 14th annual Fine Wine… Continue reading

Boston’s Tuukka Rask, Riley Nash step up in Game 4 win over Leafs

Bruins 3 Maple Leafs 1 TORONTO — The Boston Bruins didn’t need… Continue reading

Supreme Court ruling corks B.C. vintners’ hopes for free trade of Canadian wines

VANCOUVER — The Supreme Court of Canada ruling upholding interprovincial trade laws… Continue reading

Lance Armstrong settles $100M lawsuit with U.S. government

Disgraced cyclist reached $5-million settlement with sponsor U.S. Postal Service

Montreal couple hoping city lets them keep beloved pet pig named Babe

MONTREAL — Babe the pig spends his days sleeping, going for walks… Continue reading

WATCH: This is a story about a stoned raccoon at a fire station

An unusual pair showed up in the pre-dawn hours at Fire Station… Continue reading

Plastic makers’ credit ratings may be hit by pollution rules

Plastic packaging makers may be less credit-worthy in the future as governments… Continue reading

Black Press Media acquires two new Alaska newspapers

New Media Investment Group to acquire the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal while Black Press Media takes on daily newspapers in Juneau and Kenai Alaska

‘Dining of the future’: vegan restaurant boom fuelled by meat eaters

Foodies say Canada is in the midst of a renaissance in plant-based… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month