I have some back issues (mild scoliosis and kyphosis) and a history of joint problems in all of my close relatives. Thus, I kinda want to take care of my back and of my articulations.

At the same time, whenever I search for exercises that are "safe" I find the kind of stuff that you'd recommend to a 60 yo obese person. I'm looking for stuff that a healthy guy in his 20s can do to feel energized and build muscles, yet that isn't so "hardcore" so that my back & joints will regret it by the time I'm 40.

The preferably kind of which you can do with 2x 10-to-20kg dumbbells or just calisthenics that don't require a bar.

Any suggestions would be appreciate, especially any channels/blogs/literature with a focus on this type of stuff.

3 Answers 3


You are spot on, George. The fitness industry pushes people in two directions: Either it is "stuff you'd recommend to a 60 yo obese person", or it is the hardcore boot camp class that wears down your joints and body. The fitness industry does not do a good job of filling in the middle between the two extremes.

You are also right to be concerned about kyphosis. Most people at the gym are doing exercises which will only exacerbate their kyphosis. Try this: go the gym and just watch people. In almost every exercise, you will see people are rounding forward in their upper spine. For example, watch people doing Burpees.

I wish I had a good solution for you, but I don't. I have been working out daily for over thirty years. As I grew older, I knew I wanted to conserve my joints and I wanted to do absolutely everything I could to avoid kyphosis (because I find it so unattractive). So over the many years I have gradually created my own workout that is between the two extremes mentioned above. However, in a comment like this, I can't communicate to you the numerous exercises I do. If we met in person, I could show you (I live in Portland, OR).

Perhaps my best advise for you, is look for a personal trainer. I'm not talking about the 23 yo at your gym who is getting paid minimum wage. I'm talking about the people who charge $70 an hour. Before you pay them money, ask them questions about Kyphosis. Make sure they know more about the topic than you do (most will not). Ask them if they have read any recent research papers on the topic, and then ask what journal the papers were published in. If they can't give you solid answers, move on to the next trainer. I wish you luck finding qualified help.

  • If you could lay out some of the routine in text, I would be greatful actually, even if it won't suit me, it might help me as a starting point.
    – George
    Feb 2, 2019 at 14:00
  • As far as trainers go, where I currently live it would be impossible to find one :(
    – George
    Feb 2, 2019 at 14:01
  • I will send some videos for you to get ideas. Here is a first video. youtube.com/watch?v=1sr3VeJlA3Y&t=174s I'm sorry that it is for older people, but unfortunately almost all the research on posture is done with older people. So, look at her ideas and adapt them. They could be part of a warm up. The last exercise on the ball should be good for all ages. The exercise with the band at 3:29 should be good for all ages. You can get bands with more resistance. Her hamstring stretch is also a good idea.
    – Chris
    Feb 2, 2019 at 16:56
  • The class is taught by the same woman who has published research on Kyphosis. As a plus, I think you'll find she is very attractive inspite of her age. Look at her posture! She is living proof that exercise can give you good posture. As a final note, if you don't have a ball or band or roller, they are well worth the cost if you are serious. I own all these props. Hope that gets you started.
    – Chris
    Feb 2, 2019 at 16:56

Pretty much all exercise is safe, and the notion that exercise wears away your joints is a myth. Exercise, even vigorous exercise, has been found to have either no effect or a positive effect on joint health. Those people doing "hardcore" exercise will be far healthier at age 40 than the average person.

As for kyphosis and lordosis, while there isn't much evidence on the effects of exercise on these conditions, it seems that exercise most likely will not cure but also will not cause or exacerbate such static postural deviations. However exercise is very likely to improve chronic back pain.

So just get some exercise, of whatever type you're most likely to stick with, and stop worrying that it's going to harm you.


An earlier comment states, "exercise most likely will not cure but also will not cause or exacerbate such static postural deviations". However, the paper cited is from 2001 and is out of date, at least as far as the first part of the comment. Exercise may not "cure" postural deviations, but appropriate exercises can help reduce these deviations. If you google "kyphosis, exercise, scholar" you will see that there has been significant research since 2001. Here are a few examples:

Spinal extension exercises prevent natural progression of kyphosis (2009)

Targeted spine strengthening exercise and posture training program to reduce hyperkyphosis... (2017)

Effect of thorax correction exercises on flexed posture and... (2015)

These papers studied populations over 60 years, simply because that is where the research funding is, but younger people would likely respond even more positively to the protocols.

From what I observe, this research is not yet impacting what goes on in gyms. In my opinion, there is great potential for gyms to incorporate postural exercises into their group class offerings and personal training services.

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