Fitness in a flash

Shape Up: Chest, Biceps, and Abs: Meet Your Maker(s)

Group-Shot1-360x2211It’s a fundamental human quest to like what we see in the mirror: we want to know our hair isn’t out of place, that there’s nothing in our teeth, and that we look physically fit—at least to a degree.  Yet the muscles we see in the mirror (often referred to as “mirror muscles,” creatively enough), don’t tell the whole story.  When we dig a little deeper—or even turn to the side—we see some major plot twists we missed when we were getting lost in our own eyes and/or pecs. 

In fact, I guarantee you that when your focus is on your pecs, biceps, and abdominal muscles for years, months, or even weeks on end, taking a selfie with your back facing the mirror would resemble a haunted house—screams included. 

Before I tell you how to fix this, you need to understand that a functional, well-balanced physique is an aesthetically sound physique, and this applies to the entire 360 degrees of our bodies.  After all, we exist in three dimensions, not two. 

So here’s an anatomy lesson (well, a G-rated one): in real life, muscles don’t operate in a vacuum.  There will never be a time, for example, where your bicep will execute an entire motion without the help of other muscles.  Why, then, would you spend countless hours trying to get a big bicep when a) you’re not getting any stronger anywhere else, and b) the rest of your body is staying the same or even atrophying (as we all do naturally up to a pound a year after the age of 26)?

unnamedMoreover, working the front part of your body duplicates repetitive motions in our everyday lives to a harmful extent.  As modern humans, we’re constantly reaching forward with our arms and legs, whether we’re sitting, driving, eating, or even reading Queerty articles on our phones or tablets.  This repetitive series of movements results in tightness that pulls our shoulders and hips forward, producing slouchy, less-than-confident-looking posture. 

The remedy?  Work your backside, or “posterior chain,” just as much as your front (“anterior chain”), if not more.

Here’s how to get your ‘back groove’ back, in three easy steps:

Get off the bench. 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: no one ever got a good, strong butt by sitting on it.  Do as much of your workout as possible standing, not sitting.


So you’re standing up.   Awesome!  Now perform some band walk drills—these will activate your glutes, which are critical to sound squats, deadlifts, and lunges, as well as any standing overhead work.  Follow this drill up with single-leg Romanian deadlifts for increased leg stability and balance, and incorporate [in-gym] hip thrusts to work your glutes in conjunction with your hamstrings, back, and core.     

Pull, baby, pull. 

Want to be strong at picking objects off of the ground?  Great!  Try your hands (sic) at barbell deadlifts, as they involve your entire posterior chain; there is in fact no single lift as  demanding with regards to the neuromuscular system as the deadlift.   Want to be stronger at pulling objects (sic) closer to you?  Great!  Try out some bent-over or even squat rows, to strengthen your lats while engaging and strengthening your glutes simultaneously.  A delightful secondary perk to pulling motions, might I add, is a worked, firm, and functional bicep.

So give your backside some loving today, and let me know how it goes!