Body language. It’s something that can make or break you when dealing with people. Poor body language means people thinking poorly of you. While great body language can only help you, including in helping you feel more confident. Not just socially, but mentally, emotionally and physically as well. Great body language starts with good body posture.
But first, what is poor posture and what should we do to fix posture?
What Does Poor Posture Do?
Poor posture can give you a host of problems. It gives you lower back pain, it will give you aches and pains in your neck, shoulders and can even give you headaches!
Poor posture/lower back pain is even one of the top 10 reasons for visits to the doctor!
Not only will people with poor posture feel better after learning how to fix posture, but they’ll save a ton of money on doctor visits! Plus you can start standing like Superman 😉
Great body posture is a remedy for your health, your wealth and your image. If you want to look more competent, if you want to look more attractive and more powerful as a man, then great body posture is mandatory.
You’ll feel better, save money and will get more opportunities in life! Not just with women, but in general as per the halo effect:
The halo effect can also be explained as the behavior (usually unconscious) of using evaluations based on things unrelated, to make judgments about something or someone. The halo effect specifically refers to when this behavior has a positive correlation, such as viewing someone who is attractive as likely to be successful and popular. When this judgement has a negative connotation, such as someone unattractive being more readily blamed for a crime than someone attractive, it is referred to as the horn effectWikipedia
Poor posture will even make you feel like crap about yourself as a person (while good body posture will make you feel better, though there is some follow-up research that indicates it might only be a placebo effect). Your body language is typically going to be a reflection of how you feel in the moment. And people pick up on that fact and will treat you differently depending on your body language.
It’s a vicious cycle. A cycle that people instinctively understand, though find difficult to put into words.
Try this thought experiment: think of two doors, side-by-side. Now try to picture two people behind them. These two people are the exact same. They’re dressed in the same clothes, same hairstyle, same build and even same gender. Physically speaking, they’re twins.
There’s only one key difference.
Behind door number one, is a person who was just told that they have to work the entire weekend. Even though this weekend is their birthday and they had special plans. Special plans they now have to cancel.
What do you think their body language is like? Do they have great body posture or poor posture?
Now think of the second door. Physically, this person is the exact same in appearance, however instead of being told they have to work through the weekend they got a promotion instead.
How do you think this makes their body language look?
Is there a difference?
Here is my impression of each person’s body language:
- Quick Disclaimer: for you eagle eyes out there, you’ll notice that my clothes no longer fit right. I’ve been losing weight so all of my clothes are now fat clothes. Make sure to pay attention to how things are not supposed to fit you in these images:
The second one has poor posture while the first has great body posture. In the second image, that person looks like someone you might want to avoid. Meanwhile, the first person looks like they’re just happier in general. Someone you could have fun being around.
This energy is something that you’re giving out into the world, we all are! Make sure that you give out a message that will draw people to you rather than push them away. This is a part of your image/archetype, which we covered a little in this post (that’s about online dating pictures but extends to your real life image as well).
Do you want an image of someone who seems somehow off? Or would you rather have an image of someone who looks like they’re large and in charge?
You can have terrible body language and yet great posture. But you cannot have great body language with poor posture. Body posture is the foundational building block of looking powerful and attractive.
That’s why we’re starting with posture. But enough about poor posture, let’s get into how to have great body posture.
What Great Body Posture is Not:
Contrary to popular belief, amazing body posture does not mean that you have your spine completely straight.
I’ve been guilty of this mistake myself while adjusting my own body. The spine does have natural curves, and you want to maintain those natural curves.
Trying to keep your back totally straight is just as bad as having poor posture!
The effects that I’ve personally noticed is that my back starts to feel exhausted. This is how I know that I’m over correcting. This is bad because it strains my back when I do it, and you’ll find the same thing happening to you.
If you notice that it starts to hurt your back while keeping good body posture, then you’re over correcting. It will feel like you’re working out, and in a way, you will start to feel a ‘burning’ sensation.
Working out your back is great to do if that’s your goal, but trying to do this 24/7 will cause back strains and additional lower back pain. The exact same as having poor posture will.
What is Great Body Posture?
The spine has a few natural curves in it. Rather than explain it, check out this picture:
Having great body posture should feel nearly effortless. Something that I myself still have to work on while sitting. We’ll look at sitting next, but first let’s talk about proper standing body posture.
Standing Powerfully; Feet/Legs
Your weight should be evenly spread out between the balls of your feet.
Not your toes, and not your heels, but the balls of your feet. You should have about equal weight across both of them.
Your feet should be roughly shoulder width apart. Though every body is different, make sure to experiment to find what is most comfortable to you.
After that, you’ll want to stand up straight (though again, not completely straight as the spine is meant to have some slight curves in it, just like the picture above.
For comfort, you can have a slight bend in your knees. This is meant to take a little of the pressure off of your hips. When you distribute pressure throughout your body that’s less of a load that any one part has to carry. Less weight any one part has to carry means that the less chance there is of that part getting over worked and straining itself.
In short; a more comfortable body has weight and pressure distributed across as much area as possible. A more comfortable body is less injury prone, which means less shoulder and neck issues, fewer trips to the doctor and even less lower back pain!
Finally, don’t stand in a single spot forever. If you’re standing around for a lot of time (as a cashier for example, or even while talking to friends) shift your weight every once in a while. Your body will thank you for it later.
And don’t be afraid to stretch while talking to people!
Stand Like Superman; The Upper Body
If you’d like, check out the full, short post on How to Stand Like Superman. Or, watch this one-minute video clip to see what a difference poor posture and attractive body posture can make:
Let’s look at each component of Superman-esque body posture:
- Pull your shoulders back
- While you can easily overdo this, in my experience it’s more difficult than you’d think. Most people, including myself when first getting started, do not pull their shoulders back enough
- Your chest should come out at least a little bit. This will happen naturally as you pull your shoulders back
- As an experiment, try to puff your chest out but round your shoulders. You’ll find that you can’t do it without looking like a cartoon!
- For a rounded shoulders example, look at this picture (this is rounding your shoulders, which is poor posture):
- Hold your head up high. No doubt that this is something that you have probably heard before
- But it’s true, hold your head high. Hold it with pride. Look out in front of you and accept the world
- Don’t ever look down at your feet, as this looks weak
- Keep your chin roughly parallel to the ground
How to Visualize Everything:
Imagine that there is a hook in the middle of your chest. This hook pulls you up, ever so slightly. As it pulls up it will also pull your chest out a little bit.
I have found that this was the best piece of advice ever written, for me personally, on visualizing great body posture.
Other people like to think of a string in their head that pulls them up. That will work as well.
Whichever method you choose, just make sure that you think up and out, ready to accept the world. Open to what experiences the day has to bring you.
A Hack on How to Fix Posture:
- Quick note: I got this exercise from Art of Manliness. The article goes more in depth on the physical effects of great and poor posture. Make sure to check it out! It’s a fantastic read
Find a wall.
Then, put your back up against the wall.
The goal is to have a few certain parts of your body touching the wall. That’s how you get started on fixing body posture.
First, let’s start with the feet. You’ll want about six inches or so between your feet and the wall. Just a little bit of a distance.
The reason is because this will help you focus on your body posture for your upper body. If your feet are touching the wall then you don’t get that exaggeration you need (at first) to focus on the areas you need to.
It’s like a teacher pointing out a mistake and saying do this instead. Remember that you shouldn’t actually stand with your feet out in front of you all the time, it’s a training tool only. A training tool to get your upper body looking more like Superman’s 😉
Now the disclaimer out of the way, back to the wall.
What you’ll need to do is make sure that your butt is touching the wall first. After that, pull your shoulder blades back until they touch the wall. Don’t dig them into the wall because that’s an over-correction, which will lead to poor posture and more lower back pain.
After your butt and shoulder blades, next is an easy one; your head. The back of your head should touch the wall as well.
Here is a picture to make it easier to visualize:
How to Sit Like a Powerful Man
As I’ve stated before, powerful body language starts with great body posture. Everything else, body language wise, flows from it. Poor posture leads to poor body language and a poor impression others have of you.
This includes while you’re sitting.
Sitting properly will also help with any posture related pains you might be having.
First, if you can, plant your feet on the floor. If you’re unable to then try to find a solid structure to put your feet onto.
Next, if you’re sitting in a chair you’ll want to slide your but all the way to the end of the chair. The part that connects with the back rest.
After that, you’ll want to follow the same principles as when you stand up. Try to pull your shoulder blades back, your head up and back as well as having your butt up against the back rest.
This is, personally, why I prefer taller back rests. Sure, it’s nice having something tall to lean up against as a taller guy, but it also helps remind me of my posture.
The back rest can act as the ‘wall’ when we’re sitting.
Another neat trick you can pull off, besides thinking about the string or the hook, is this.
First, slouch completely. Just let everything go to shit. This first step is poor posture central.
Then, after a few seconds of that, bring yourself up and try to keep a totally straight spine. Bring your shoulder blades back as far as possible, try to be as straight as possible.
Hold this for a few seconds and then relax a little bit. Try to let the tension release slightly.
The effect you’re going for is to exaggerate everything to absurd proportions. Creating some stress all over your body. Then, when you relax that stress you will fall somewhere in the middle of poor posture and rigid posture.
Hopefully, somewhere with great body posture.
Once you have the basics down, this is a neat trick that I’ve found relaxes me into a great position.
Other Tips on Sitting:
Like when standing, try to distribute your weight as evenly as you can.
In this case, you’re trying to keep your weight distributed on your hips. Whereas with standing you want your weight throughout your feet.
In addition, always keep your knees bent at a right angle. This means that your knees will be even with, or slightly lower than your hips.
Again, it’s about weight distribution. But, this part is also about balance.
Don’t Forget to Move
Finally, try to get up and move around a little bit. You don’t want to just sit down all day. Even with great body posture it’s eventually going to start hurting.
What you’ll want to do is get out in front of this. That way, you can give your body the rest and movement that it needs. Doing this before the pain sets in will help you work longer and keep better focus in the long run.
Sure, you could pound out multiple hours in the same chair. You might even get a lot of work done.
But, your work will suffer because your focus will suffer.
Willpower and focus are both limited resources. It takes both to work. It takes quite a bit to work for longer hours.
And if you’re in pain, you’re going to take from those resources much faster than you otherwise would with just a few short breaks.
Having said that, what you should do is stand up with your legs. Do not bend over at the waist.
This is one way that hard workers will end up with more lower back pain.
Will it hurt if you do it every once in a while?
Will it hurt right away when you start doing it?
But it will start hurting you eventually because you’re stressing your body.
Therefore, when you stand up from a sitting position, move to the front of the seat. After that, stand up by straightening your legs.
Avoid bending at your waist.
Then, stretch your back a little bit for a few minutes.
Get up and walk around even. Go get some water, get a cup of coffee or tea. Anything, just make sure that you’re returning some blood flow to your entire body.
One great way to stretch to prevent lower back pain is to do some standing backbends.
What If You Don’t Have a Back Rest?
Then what are you doing with your life?
I’m kidding… mostly…
Honestly though, try to sit the exact same way. And definitely do not skip your breaks.
If you have a back rest that covers your entire back, like a car seat, you can get away with longer periods of sitting.
Eventually it will catch up with you. But not as quickly.
If you don’t have a back rest then you will start experiencing some body stress a lot faster. It will also get a lot worse much faster.
Otherwise, everything’s the same when it comes to sitting. Just do your best.
We’ve covered a lot in this guide.
But here’s a basic re-cap:
- Head up and chin parallel with the ground. You are proud of who you are and you are ready to accept the world
- Imagine a hook in your chest or a string in your head. They both pull you up. Keep your shoulder blades back to do this perfectly
- Use a wall to find where your perfect body posture is. Every body is different, so find what is best for you. Using the wall, your butt, shoulder blades and head should all rest against the wall with your feet about six inches away. That’s for your upper body
- Your feet should be roughly shoulder width apart
- Keep your weight distributed as evenly as possible. While standing, it’s on the balls of your feet. While sitting it’s on your hips
- Take breaks. While sitting this means get up and move around a little bit, even stretch. While standing, shift your weight around and don’t be afraid to stretch out a little bit
This will be the first post of an ongoing series about how to be a powerful man. If you don’t want to wait on the next post then leave me a comment if you have any questions so we can tackle them together.
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