This 20-Minute Back and Shoulder Workout Can Help Improve Your Posture

Proper plank alignment can help you perfect your standing and sitting posture, too.
Image Credit: Oscar Wong/Moment/GettyImages

Maintaining proper posture isn't easy. Between sitting at your desk (or couch!) all day and constantly looking down at your smartphone, bad postural habits can sneak up on you. Sadly, bad posture doesn't just affect your looks — it's also a precursor to back problems and low-back pain.

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"When we sit for long hours, hunched over on our computers, it places constant tension on the lower back and weakens other muscles (like glutes and hamstrings)," says Ben Pavlovich, NASM-certified personal trainer specializing in neuromuscular stretching and bodybuilding. "This results in a muscular imbalance, which causes back pain."

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Fortunately, there's a solution. A back and shoulder workout that incorporates stretching and balances pushing and pulling movements can help mitigate the effects of muscular imbalance by strengthening the weak muscles and lengthening the tight ones, Pavlovich says. "There should be one to two pulling movements for every pushing movement."

Ready to go? Here's a balanced back and shoulder workout — put together by Pavlovich — that will help improve your posture and potentially prevent back pain. The best part? You only need your body weight.

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Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we’ve got something for everyone.

Try This 20-Minute Workout for Better Posture

Got some existing back issues? We've got you covered. Each move comes with an easier variation that even people with back pain can do easily. Enjoy.

Move 1: Trunk Rotation

Move 1: Trunk Rotation
Image Credit: Ben Pavlovich/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Reps 20
  1. Lie face up on the floor with knees bent.
  2. Rotate your legs toward the floor until you feel the stretch in your back.
  3. Hold the stretch for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times on each side.

Alternative: Child's Pose

Alternative: Child's Pose
Image Credit: Ben Pavlovich/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Time 30 Sec
  1. Kneel on the floor and touch your big toes together.
  2. Lean back to sit on your heels separating your knees hip-width apart.
  3. Fold forward and reach your arms straight out in front of you along the ground.
  4. Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat.

Move 2: Quad Stretch

Move 2: Quad Stretch
Image Credit: Ben Pavlovich/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Reps 4
Time 30 Sec
  1. Get into a half-kneeling position.
  2. Raise your right foot behind you and grab the foot with your right arm.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Alternative: Couch Quad Stretch

Alternative: Couch Quad Stretch
Image Credit: Ben Pavlovich/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 2
Reps 4
Time 30 Sec
  1. Start from the same half kneeling position as above. Place the inside one foot on the couch and descend into a kneeling position with the other foot on the ground.
  2. Lean forward.
  3. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
  4. Perform twice on each leg.

Move 3: Bird Dog

Move 3: Bird Dog
Image Credit: Ben Pavlovich/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Reps 10
  1. Start in a tabletop position with shoulders over wrists and hips over knees.
  2. While engaging your core, lift your right arm and left leg simultaneously. Extend your right arm with your palm facing down and straighten your left leg, keeping both at the same height as your torso.
  3. Hold the position for 2 seconds before slowly returning back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Perform 10 reps (5 each side) for 3 total sets.

Alternative: WY Stretch

Alternative: WY Stretch
Image Credit: Ben Pavlovich/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Reps 10
  1. Stand with your back touching the wall.
  2. Create a W shape with your arms.
  3. Slowly extend your arms into a Y shape (pictured above) while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  4. Ensure you keep your back against the wall for the whole movement.
  5. Bring your arms back down to a W.

Move 4: Single-Leg Glute Bridge

Move 4: Single-Leg Glute Bridge
Image Credit: Ben Pavlovich/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Reps 10
  1. Lie on your back on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
  2. Cross one leg over the other, resting your opposite ankle on opposite thigh.
  3. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulder form a straight line
  4. Squeeze your glutes and tighten your abs while avoiding overextending the back.
  5. Hold for a count of two, then lower back down with control.

Alternative: Glute Bridge

Alternative: Glute Bridge
Image Credit: Ben Pavlovich/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Reps 10
  1. Lie on your back on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
  2. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulder form a straight line
  3. Squeeze your glutes and tighten your abs while avoiding overextending the back.
  4. Hold for a count of two, then lower back down with control.

Move 5: Single-Leg Balance

Move 5: Single-Leg Balance
Image Credit: Ben Pavlovich/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Reps 10
  1. Stand and balance on one leg and raise the other leg to hip height, bending the knee to 90 degrees.
  2. Rotate the hip externally and extend the leg out to the side.
  3. Pull back to the front and repeat the movement for 5 reps on each side for 3 sets.

Alternative: Lying Leg Lift

Alternative: Lying Leg Lift
Image Credit: Ben Pavlovich/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Reps 10
  1. Lie on the floor on your side with legs stacked on top of each other.
  2. Raise the top leg as high as comfortable until you feel the stretch in the hip. Don't let your hips rotate forward or back.
  3. Hold this position for 2 seconds. You should feel the tension in the outer hips.
  4. Do all your reps on one side before repeating on the other side.

Move 6: Plank

Move 6: Plank
Image Credit: Ben Pavlovich/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Time 30 Sec
  1. Start in a tabletop position but lower onto your forearms with your elbows under your shoulders and knees under hips.
  2. Extend your legs out straight so that your heels, hips and shoulders form a straight line.
  3. Hold the pose for 30 seconds for 3 sets.

Alternative: Reverse Crunch

Alternative: Reverse Crunch
Image Credit: Ben Pavlovich/LIVESTRONG.com
Sets 3
Reps 10
  1. Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your arms at your sides.
  2. Raise your legs until your shins are perpendicular to the floor.
  3. Return slowly to starting position and repeat.

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