Top 3 Reasons Your Prolonged Posture is KILLING Your Fat Loss
So at first glance these two topics may not seem that related to one another. You’re probably thinking: what the hell does sitting up straight have to do with losing fat?
To be honest, you should probably first check out my post on mobility & fat loss I wrote for Cody “Boom Boom” McBroom here. It dives VERY deeply into why mobility and fat loss (another unconventional pairing) are actually heavily related. I will be touching on a few of those points from that article here but at a different angle. Posture and Mobility are also, you guessed it, related!
So first, let’s talk about posture and what it’s not. “Good” posture is NOT neutral spine 24/7. I saw a great post on Instagram by Dr. Andreo Spina about posture that said something like: “The only bad posture is the one you’re in too often.” That quote really resonated with me because it made so much sense. Nothing in fitness is absolute because there’s a certain level of relativity to it all. Posture is dynamic. There are times where you’ll need to have a rounded spine, an extended spine and a neutral spine. They’re ALL important. So we can’t demonize any one type of posture. It’s all about context.
With that in mind, let’s talk about why posture and fat loss are related. To exercise efficiently, or getting the most bang for your buck, your body needs to be in certain alignments to execute certain movements. Postural alignment, or how your joints and limbs stack up as we move, is essential when trying to complete a movement safely, burn the most calories and build the most muscle. These are all 3 factors we’ve covered in earlier articles extensively because they’re all related to fat loss. So I’m here telling you again that this topic we’re covering is heavily related with those 3 essentials MUST HAVES for fat loss. If our postural alignment isn’t where it should be, we’re going to compromise one of these 3 factors for fat loss. Let’s talk about how postural alignment relates to fat loss specifically in relation to these 3 factors.
You Are Putting Your Joints At Risk
The above photo from Squat University shows an athlete executing a squat with poor postural alignment. You can see the knees are caving and in this case they're doing so because the weight is most likely WAY too much for the athlete here. When the joints aren’t stacked efficiently, the knees, the hips and even the back are in danger of injury. It starts from the ground up. Here’s another example below of a slight compensation in my own back squat.
The red line shows where my resistance line is. The green line shows where it SHOULD be. The reason we want the bar to be mid foot is because that takes away a lot of external load on the lower back and puts the resistance into where it belongs, your hips. Because my chest is so far forward my lower back is taking more load than it needs to. And it’s so slight that I didn’t even feel it. But over time, I would eventually. I highly encourage you to film yourself doing your compound lifts and analyze them for compensations. You can’t burn fat if you’re hurt! And should you decide to continue to compensate, whether you realize you’re doing it or not, you WILL get hurt. Only takes a matter of time.
You Are Limiting Your Energy Expenditure
If you are compensating heavily like in the previous squat picture you are KILLING your potential for higher energy expenditure. Why? It’s simple: bigger range of motion = more calories burned. If you are achieving more ROM in your squats, lunges, push and pulling exercises, you’re GOING to burn more calories. It requires WAY more effort to come up from a deep squat that a quarter squat.
Don’t believe me? Try it. Quarter squat with just your bodyweight, hold it for 10 seconds then come up. It will probably be a little challenging but you should be ok. Now sink into a deep squat where your butt is closer to the ground and hold for 10 seconds. You can even use a pole to support yourself should your mobility not be all the way there. That deep squat hold was probably NOT easy. It was probably pretty tough depending on how trained/mobile you are. The difference is you’re recruiting more muscle fibers to sink into and come out of the squat. Because you’re recruiting more muscle fibers, it requires more work from your body, thus requiring more energy, thus resulting in more calories burned.
If you didn’t have proper postural alignment I doubt you’d be able to get into a deep squat to get those gains. But to come full circle, knee valgus actually isn’t a bad thing IF IT IS INTENTIONAL. Yes, you can squat with your knees collapsed and it can be okay. We can move anywhere we want if it’s intentional and we are training that way purposefully. But the reason I’m addressing posture in exercise and fat loss, is because for most of us, knee valgus ain’t on purpose. For most of us these taboo positions are unintentional and occur due to a weakness, tightness or desynchronization between what we want to do and the actual execution. And because of this disconnect I HAVE to address it.
Learn how to first move conventionally with great alignment and efficient stacking of your joints to burn those most fat!
You Are KILLING Your Hypertrophy Gains
We’ve covered previously that building muscle is one of the best ways to burn fat because it forces your body to work harder, even at rest, thus raising your potential daily energy expenditure. If you’re not using full range of motion, especially if you’re a beginner, you’re KILLING your potential get the most from a movement possible. Now hold on, before you say: "what about box squats, rack pulls or other exercises that limit the ROM in a traditional movement?"
What’s different between those movements and a quarter squat and a partial ROM deadlift?
This word is coming back: INTENTION.
Those exercises have a purposeful limitation in ROM. They are designed to do so for specific reasons like training goals, mobility restrictions, injuries, or other limitations. However, if you are squatting WAY too much weight and quarter squatting because you can’t handle full rom, you’re your knees will hate you later in life, and you will NOT build NEARLY as much muscle as you would if you squatted lighter and deeper. EVERY movement has its place in our library of exercises. But here, if it ain’t on purpose you’re putting yourself at risk for injury and you’re killing your potential gains. I cover this topic of range of motion and mobility for fat loss extensively in my article I did for Cody BoomBoom so I’ll point you there again for more info on these variables in the fat loss equation.
Not only is range of motion important, but where the external load is distributed counts too. If you’re squatting and your heels come up, the resistance is now going to move more-so to your knees tipping the balance of where the external loads lies toward your joints. Of course your quads, glutes and hamstrings are still going to work, but this compensation is going to put more load into your knees. When you have a break in your alignment of joints, wherever that break exists, more external load will be placed. Overtime that excess load builds a mental pattern in your movement. You’ll automatically compensate without even meaning it after a while.
So you’ll essentially build this habitual movement pattern that will continually limit your potential to grow. And because you’d be accustomed to that manner of movement for so long, it would make it THAT much harder to break out of. Form isn’t just something us coaches and trainers try to nail into your head because we’re picky, it actually makes you a better and stronger mover.
So by now you can see that posture isn’t just limited to standing up straight. It’s interwoven in all movement and is very dynamic. Understanding context and when your posture should be a certain way for a certain goal will make you a smarter mover overall. Oh yea, and it’ll help you burn more fat long-term!I’m offering you a free 30 minute form consultation to check things out and see how everything is stacking up with your exercises! You can check that out here!