Combating The Effects Of Your Desk, Part 4

So far, we’ve covered the harmful effects of desk sitting (in Part 1), corrective strategies you can use at your desk (in Part 2), and corrective mobility and activation drills you can perform as a warm-up in the gym (in Part 3).  Today, in the fourth and final installment of Combating The Effects Of Your Desk, I’ll go over some weight-training-specific tips for fixing your desk posture.

As discussed in Part 1, not only are many muscles overactive and tight due to desk-sitting, several are also inhibited and weak.  We addressed most of the tight ones (and some of the weak ones) in Part 3, but several areas are going to need additional attention in your lifting program to bring up to speed.

These three muscle groups need extra work:

  • Upper back muscles (traps, rhomboids, etc)

    The upper back muscles are shoulder external rotators and scapular retractors.  Practically, this means they make you stop slouching your shoulders forward.  Strengthening them helps pull your shoulders back and counteract your tight anterior shoulder girdle muscles (like your pectorals).

    Upper Crossed Syndrome

  • Glutes (gluteus maximus especially)

    As mentioned previously, dormant glutes are one of the factors causing lower crossed syndrome.  Strengthening them will help pull your pelvis back out of anterior pelvic tilt and counteract your tight hip flexors.

  • Abdominals (rectus abdominus, internal/external obliques)

    Just like the glutes, your abdominals help hold your pelvis in proper alignment.  Strengthening your abs will help get you out of anterior pelvic tilt.

    Lower Crossed Syndrome (Anterior Pelvic Tilt)

Strengthening your dormant muscles

  • Upper back muscles

    To strengthen your upper back muscles and help fix your slouch, I recommend a “pushing” to “pulling” ratio of at least 2:1.  That means that for every set of upper body “push” exercise you do (like a bench press, shoulder press, or pushup) you should do 2 sets of an upper body “pull” exercise (like a row, face pull, or pull-up).  Since most of us are extremely tight and over-active in the “push” muscles, this ratio will help restore balance.


  • Glutes

    Strengthening your hibernating glutes is probably going to involve exercises you aren’t used to, because coaches are really only now catching on to the benefits of glute-specific training.  Most people have operated under the assumption that basic leg exercises like squats and deadlifts provide plenty of stimulation for the glutes, but in fact, most people’s glutes are so inactive that they don’t even use them in those exercises, resulting in compensations from other muscles and poor form.  I have written before on glute-specific training, so check out the progression in this post.

  • AbdominalsLike the glutes, most people have been making incorrect assumptions about how to train the abdominals for years.  Here’s a hint: crunches isn’t going to do it.  The abs are meant to keep the torso still, not move it repeatedly, and stability is just what you need to get your pelvic alignment back where it needs to be.  Check out my previous article to get a full dose of effective ab training.

Desk Effects Neutralized!

OK, so nothing is every truly going to neutralize all of the effects of your desk; desks just aren’t healthy for human bodies.  Fortunately, if you follow the tips in this series, you’ll be doing just about as much as you reasonably can to fix your postural imbalances and stay healthy despite your working conditions.