The best cue in all of lifting is “chest up.” It allows a good posture, keeping the shoulder blades slightly and hips pulled back enough. The neck can relax in a neutral and comfortable position.
Keeping the chest up protects the lower back. Rounding the spine places excessive shearing forces upon it, even more so under a load. Consider these other cases:
- It promotes stability for the bench press. It pulls back the scapulae to support the shoulders. It narrows the spread of the back. This limits side-to-side movement and keeps you firm against the bench.
- It prevents stooping during a squat. You stoop when bending forward at the hips without bending much at the knees. This encourages rounding of the spine and ignores the contribution of the powerful quads of the front thigh and the calves as well.
- It keeps the shoulder blades tight during pulling motions such as the row. A loose scapula compromises safety and strength. It forces the shoulder to bare the load in positions whereas the muscles function too weakly.
One bad habit leads to other bad habits. When a trainee rounds their back, they tend to also overuse the hips, slouch their shoulders, and fail to bend their knees when squatting. A cue gives an easy way to combat this harmful cascade.
Any cue that allows better posture, form, and stability will allow the body to function at its best. Keeping the chest up applies to every exercise and helps in many ways. One good habit can foster other good habits.
Keep the chest up and consider adding it to your cue list.