The biggest occupational hazard on your job may not be the asbestos in the walls or the hot blonde receptionist in the lobby-it’s more likely the desk you sit at and the computer you work on. And the worst risk you take in the gym probably isn’t bench-pressing without a spotter, it’s benching, period. In short, you’re a ticking time bomb.
“But how?” you ask. You’re “just like everybody else.” In fact, you’re healthier- you think – because you lift weights. In this case, there’s no safety in numbers: Everyone who works a desk job is at risk of developing dangerous imbalances between the muscles on the front and back of the body – and training, especially if it’s focused on the chest, biceps, and other “beach muscles,” can only make the problem worse. Fortunately, there’s still time to defuse you, before your progress in the gym implodes and your body shuts down with injuries.
The MFWeak-Point Workout is designed to correct the imbalances that put the pain in your lower back and the slope in your shoulders, putting your body back into alignment so you can rehabilitate injuries, avoid future ones, and build more muscle all over. Warning: Do not skip this program. Even if you work in a lumberyard or feel that every inch of you is in the pink, the routines we are about to show you are essential for building a healthy and functional body. If you want to be truly fit, this is a program you absolutely must do.
TOO TIGHT, TOO LOOSE
Scared straight yet? Here’s what we’re talking about: Driving a car, sitting at a desk for prolonged periods, leaning forward to read the screen-or simply performing any activity that has you lurching forward repetitively-shortens the muscles on the front of your body (such as the pecs, front deltoids, and hip flexors, to name a few).
If your training regimen emphasizes exercises like the bench press, leg extension, and lat pulldown, for example, you only reinforce this posture. As a result, the muscles that work antagonistically to the aforementioned groups (those that act on the opposite side of the tight muscle’s joint) are stretched, or “loosened,” over time. An overly stretched muscle is compromised in its ability to produce force, meaning it weakens and becomes less effective at doing its job. Naturally, this reduces how much weight you can lift, how much muscle you can build, how built you appear in your clothes, and your overall safety. Ever play a Saturday tennis match after a long week in the office and pull a hamstring? This is often the reason.
The focus of our Weak-Point Workout plan is to bring out the interrelated muscles on the backside of the body- what exercise scientists call “the posterior chain”-with particular emphasis on the upper back and glutes. These muscles are critical for good posture (which improves everything from your appearance to your lifting form) and are essential for moving heavy weight.
SHOULDERS BACK, CHEST OUT
For the upper back, you’ll focus on scapular retraction-exercises that have you squeezing your shoulder blades (thescapulae) together-the opposite of how you move them the rest of the time. Master these-which strengthen the all important shoulder stabilizers-and you’ll be able to press awesome loads on chest and shoulder exercises. Believe it or not, your chest will likely look bigger, too, simply because you’ve taught your shoulder blades to pull back like they’re supposed to. This stretches your pecs (which are probably already too tight), giving them a wider, fuller appearance.
For the glutes and other muscles that act on the hip, you’ll work on extension- driving your legs behind you and straightening your hips. People who spend most of their day sitting develop tight hip flexors, which in turn leads to weak glutes (as the glutes spend hours in a stretched position). Without the glute strength necessary to keep the hip flexors in balance, the tight flexors pull the pelvis forward, which puts pressure on the lumbar spine and causes discomfort. By strengthening the glutes with the exercises we show here, you’ll help reverse the process.
Greater strength in the hips practically guarantees higher numbers on your deadlift and squat poundages, not to mention a tighter, firmer butt (in case your girl likes that sort of thing).