I follow the starting strength weight training program. One thing I like about it is that it consists of few (4) but effective exercises. In general there seems to be some sort of consensus as to which weightlifting exercises are the most important. Several other programs use the same 4 exercises (squat, deadlift, bench press and overhead press).

In addition I want to do some stretching every day to revert the effects of sitting at work. Searching the web I find a huge variety of suggested stretches. This is a bit of a problem. Like in weightlifting I am looking for the minimum number of stretches with the maximum effect.

What I have found so far are the following:

  • 1
    I’d like to see the official answer to this as I have sitting related issues. I do know “The World’s Greatest Stretch” held for anywhere between 1-5 minutes dramatically improved some of my issues. I have worked up to the 5 minute mark after a few months. – Frank May 13 at 20:10
  • barbell back squats – Eric May 24 at 20:25
up vote 4 down vote accepted

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In my opinion, stretching is not enough and should be accompanied by strengthening of the muscles that get long and weak while staying in bad posture for long periods of time. Doing a ton of rowing, hip extension, abdominal, chin tuck exercises is a good starting point.

For only a minimal set of stretches, my choice would be:

  • Thoracic extension stretch using a bench or a foam roller.

  • Reverse plank bridge to butterfly stretch is good for correcting rounded shoulders and opening up the groin. Taken from this video.

  • Couch stretch on a wall to stretch shortened hip flexors.

  • Standing pike stretch to stretch shortened hamstrings.

  • Dead hangs for spinal decompression.

Edit: Adding "World's Greatest Stretch"

  • Thank you very much Max for your instructive answer! You mention doing a ton of exercises. In weightlifting the emphasis is on low volume high intensity. Seems this is fine but to reverse the effects of sitting one need high volume low intensity training as well. Rowing as you mention seems like a practical exercise. I already do heavy seated rows after my other weigthlifting exercises. Maybe in addition I should ideally do 15 minutes on a rowing machine every day. – Andy May 15 at 8:27
  • 2
    Yes. Low intensity, high volume, high frequency is the way to go for posture correction exercises, especially back exercises, which are known to respond better to heavy volume. It is generally recommended to have the pull/push ratio at least double. It is critical to have a good connection with the back muscles while doing the exercises. Besides seated rows, I would also recommend exercises which have elbows far - like wide grip prone rows (seal rows), face pulls, rear delt flys. Also don't forget vertical pulling. Also maybe some isolation exercises like standing cable external rotation. – Max May 15 at 10:03
  • It seems a weakness of the starting strength program for desk jockeys such as me, is that it focuses on push exercises. This is probably since it is a strictly barbell program. I know that my vertical pull down is extremely weak. I cannot do one pull up. I am thinking of adding pull down and seated row to my training. Looking at the image above I see that I can down prioritize pecs: benchpress, hamstring and quads: squat. Also as we just discussed these exercises should be done with many reps, at least part of the time. – Andy May 15 at 10:35
  • BTW: Do you think resistance bands may be a good tool for doing high volume back exercises? One general problem with it is that the resistance is not very high, but for high volume this should not matter. Another problem is that it is difficult to do progressive overloads. The benefit is that I can use this at home and save time otherwise spent going to the gym. – Andy May 15 at 10:51
  • Not sure about starting strength, I thought it had barbell rows. About resistance bands - yes, should not be too much of a problem if you have a few different grades of bands. You can keep doing face pulls, band pull aparts, rows, pulldowns etc in your free time at home. I personally don't use them because hard to progressively overload, and I like tracking progress. But you can still track progress if you have multiple grades of bands by modulating the % of reps that you do with the thicker band within a single workout. – Max May 15 at 14:47

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