Why it's great: This move will strengthen the deep muscles of your back, your rear shoulders, abs, gluteals and hamstrings; stengthening these muscles will have a dramatic effect on your posture. Good posture enhances your energy and mood, and it reduces muscle strain and pain in your neck and middle and lower back. It will also make you appear taller, stronger – and more confident.
• Stand with your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent, holding a weight in each hand, arms straight by your side, thumbs pointing forward (A).
• Squeeze your gluteals, pull in your abdominals and hinge forward from your hips, until your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Allow your arms to hang from your shoulders, elbows slightly bent, palms facing in (B).
• Draw your shoulder blades back toward your spine and away from your ears; keep head and neck aligned with your spine.
• While maintaining this position, squeeze your shoulder blades toward your spine and lift your arms up and out to the sides as you exhale, keeping wrists straight, until elbows are almost level with your shoulders (C).
• Inhale and slowly lower your arms, then return to starting position as you exhale; repeat.
• Do one to three sets of eight to 15 repetitions, three times per week. Use three- to eight-pound (1.5 to 2.5 kilograms) dumbbells. Rest for 30 seconds between sets. For a greater challenge, stand on one foot to perform.
What not to do
Do not round your spine or let your abdominals sag.
Do not lock your knees.
Do not hold your breath and throw your arms up above shoulder level.
Do not lift a heavy weight. Instead, increase your reps.
• Middle back: Trapezius
• Middle back: Rhomboids
• Erector spinae
• Posterior deltoids
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Photography by Geoff George