We often consider large and sculpted muscles as being strong and attractive. Yet people with such muscles do not necessarily have good posture. For this group, their sturdy physique may belie imbalances in the body.
The famed Canadian Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Georges St. Pierre, aka GSP to his fans, has a physique that turns heads. His muscles are ripped and don’t seem to carry a trace of fat. For many people his body is the contemporary ideal. Yet it is an extreme ideal as it requires grueling efforts to achieve. (GSP used to train for eight hours a day doing Brazilian jiujitsu and kickboxing.)
David vs. GSP
GSP is undoubtedly very accomplished in MMA and deserves lots of respect. Yet do his muscles give him good posture? An interesting way to approach this question is to place him side by side with Michelangelo’s David, a timeless standard of physical beauty.
While both GSP and David are sculpted and toned, their postures are noticeably different. David’s neck is long and his chest is open, while GSP’s neck appears relatively short and his shoulders are somewhat rounded. Why? From a musculature perspective, GSP’s upper trapezius - part the large muscle in the upper back - is overbuilt compared to his chest. Hence his shoulders seem bulky, causing his neck to look short and his chest to look closed. Take a look at GSP and David from the side:
Good posture requires balanced muscles
Rounded shoulders can compromise our breathing. When we inhale deeply we naturally open up our chest and expand our ribcage. If the chest stays closed due to rounded shoulders our breathing is constrained.
This suggests that while we may desire strong muscles and a certain look, we also need to be mindful of maintaining good posture and what it can do for us. Of course, if getting GSP’s look tops all your other priorities, by all means go for it! Yet good posture is crucial for effective breathing and also for supporting the health of other organs. When our bodies are rounded from overbuilt trapezius or from reading our cell phones we are compressing the organs. With good posture we provide them the space to function properly.
Top Three and Big Four
The David versus GSP comparison shows us that healthy posture isn't just about standing tall or sitting up but about balancing all our muscles – between the front and the back, the sides, in addition to the upper and the lower body. In Essentrics we work the muscles evenly in the Top Three:
Front of the Torso
Back of the Torso
Sides of the Torso
We also work evenly the Big Four:
Front of the Legs
Back of the Legs
Inside of the Legs
Outside of the Legs
Good posture requires full body balancing
In addition to the Top Three and Big Four, we engage without negligence all the muscles in our arms, our hands, and our feet. The Top Three and the Big Four receive equal attention in every Essentrics routine whether it is thirty, forty-five or sixty minutes. By using this “Top Three and Big Four” principle we develop not only toned muscles but also good posture. Having good posture entails rebalancing the full body and all of our +650 muscles!