Move Forward By Moving In Reverse

Strength Development By Reversing The Common Habit Of Sitting

Jeff Aker CSCS

A common topic that I catch myself discussing is the effect that chronic sitting can have on the body. Being in the gym I often catch myself discussing how it affects results.  I love resistance training and love the idea that more and more people are gravitating toward it, but I believe that chronic sitting can pose a major roadblock in your results. Strength to me has a number of characteristics:

  • Ankle, hip, and shoulder mobility               
  • A strong posture
  • Core strength and stability
  • Flexibility and soft tissue quality
  • Neurological awareness
  • Posterior chain strength (hamstrings, glutes, low and mid back)

Sitting has the capability of taking the steam out of each and every one of these characteristics. While it has become a necessary part of the electronic workforce, I believe that strength training has a greater need to cater to this as well. This picture paints that statement beautifully. For some of you, you may be able to point out some of the characteristics above and contrast them from this photo. However, you do not have to be an expert in exercise to look and this and know that it isn't pretty. I believe that any weight training program has room for the squats, deadlifts, presses, and pulls. However, I have noticed myself putting more and more attention toward some prerequisites to the big movements in order to restore the true potential that they have. My approach to this has been quite simple. Discover exercises meant to complement the characteristics listed above by reversing the position challenges of our 21st century workhorse in the above photo. These exercises have been some of my favorites.

Glute Bridge On Bench

This is a favorite of mine. The intent with the glute bridge is to extend the hip as well as restore function of the glutes. Challenge your range of motion in the extension of the movement and it will rock your glutes. Focus on a hinging motion with the hip and get into the habit of applying force to the ground with your feet as the increased contact will allow for more engagement from the hips.

Kneeling High To Low Pull

There is a lot going on with this movement if you let it happen. Start by planting your feet in the floor and standing tall in the kneeling position. As you increase the extension in the hips your hamstrings and glutes will be forced to turn on. The same can be said for your core as well as the mid back through the rowing motion. Focus on a big squeeze of the mid back in the midpoint of each repetition. A great bang for your buck exercise.

Decline Reverse Sit-Up

I have not used sit-ups in quite some time as I have jumped on the band wagon of the reverse sit-up. For the office warriors looking to build a rock solid core, this is a great one. The reason being that too much lumbar flexion is an extreme side effect of excessive sitting and I look at the general sit-up as stoking the fire. This has been my favorite alternative as it allows for a flat back and when done right will rock your core. Start the movement by pushing your low back into the bench and letting the air our of your lungs. This should turn the core on and then you can start moving upward. Once again putting focus on the hinging of the hip will allow the core to do its job. Maintain that pressure on the bench as your feet start coming back down as the downward motion of this movement will really challenge the core. Allow a brief rest to breathe when the feet touch back down. 

Foot Elevated Good Morning

This is a sneaky one. What I love about it is its ability to lengthen the calves and hamstrings. Where it really gets interesting is maintaining your posture with this movement. Try to focus on keeping your chest tall and keeping your shoulder blades back and your low and mid back will be forced to turn on. 

These exercises have been a staple in my programming for a lot of different levels of fitness that I have worked with and I have seen a lot of success by integrating them into some of the more conventional strength training programs. If you are looking to improve the way that you lift I suggest that you try them out as they really do hit the reverse button what sitting can do to your body's lifting capability.