Are You Training Your Ribs Instead of Your Shoulders and Back? Because You Might Be.

by 3 years ago

Bro, your intercostals are looking SWOLE. Not too mention, your scalenes are looking shredded as f*ck.

What exercises have you been doing for your sternocleidomastoid, dude?

Ok, we have to know…


Total sarcasm here. Even though you may never nor want to hear these “compliments”, you could be working these muscles unintentionally. Specifically when you think you are training your back and shoulders.

Anytime you reach overhead like Drama’s “VICTORY” cry, the movement should come primarily from your glenohumeral joint (shoulder) and scapula (shoulder blade).

Instead, what we see far too often is bros using their lumbar spine (low back) and rib cage to get this motion.

Do you do that? See for yourself with this self assessment:

When you go to give your bro a high five or do an exercise like the Military Press or Pull-Up, your rib cage flares upward and your low back extends.

Not only are you ineffectively training your lats and delts to achieve maximum growth, you are also setting yourself up for potential injury. Meaning less time in the gym and more time on your couch pretending to like Season Two of True Detective.

Now that you are aware, let’s get to work to fix this problem and ensure you aren’t leaving any gainz on the table.

After applying the tips to come, you will have difficulty walking through the largest of doors a la Dom Mazzetti and your lat spread should become a viable alternative to that beach umbrella. Blocking out every ray from the sun.

1. “THEN YA GOTTA BREATHE” – Ancient philosopher, Fabolous

The first step is knowing the faulty position then potentially correcting it with some cues. We DO NOT want your rib cage to flare upwards and away from your spine. You should not feel like you are bending backwards at any portion of your lifts.

To prevent this from happening, let’s address your breathing. This is the only time we want you to get fat, bros. Don’t worry. By using this method, you will actually be working your abs while you chase that pump in your shoulders and back.

So when you take a big breath IN, your stomach should go OUT first; NOT your chest.

Try holding that breath in your lower stomach like an inflated tire throughout the entire repetition of whichever exercise you are performing. Then you should exhale at its completion.

2. GET ON YOUR KNEES…No, seriously.

Next, you are going to change the position of your LOWER body. Don’t worry, we know it’s not leg day.

Try performing your overhead presses ( and pulldowns from a HALF KNEELING POSITION. Basically, one knee will be on the ground with the opposite foot in front of you. Similar to a hip flexor stretch.

This position alone will allow your rib cage to stay down as you work your back and shoulders.


The third adjustment will be for you to perform SINGLE ARM variations of the normal exercises you do. Think 1 Arm Presses, Pulldowns, and Rows (

With the free hand that is not doing any work, we want you to hold your rib cage and prevent it from moving. This will give your body immediate feedback to what is occurring beyond the working hand and muscles.


Finally, if those three don’t seem to do the trick, time to pull some new exercises out of our magician’s bag.

Just substitute any of these exercise substitutions for ones that are causing you to overarch that back and letting your rib cage fly:

• Landmine Press

• Standing Military Press – Bottoms Up

• Bottoms Up 90-90 Walk

• X Pulldowns

If you can execute the movements without compensating in your back but tend to lose it as you fatigue, try using quarter or half repetitions ( You will be able extend your set to increase time under tension and create a hypertrophy response without sacrificing your form.

There you have it, bros. We look forward to seeing your shoulder and back gains go through the roof as you conquer that V-taper.

TAGSback exercisesFitnesslifting weightsweightliftingWorking out