It is very likely that none of the exercises you are currently doing in the gym will help your posture. In fact, they are likely causing significant degradation of your posture. This includes all the common exercises recommended on gym floors, popular blogs and sites the world around – rows, face pulls, rev flies, etc. They all can contribute to improved posture with proper technique and discipline but rarely do.
This is because the primary dysfunctions of posture are not in the traps, teres, rhomboids or lats. Don’t get me wrong there is definitely secondary dysfunction in those muscles too but the primary dysfunction lies in the erector spinae of the neck and the muscles between the superior clavicle/scapular spine upward to cervical spine and cranial attachment points. Without fixing this, attempts at postural correction will amount to little more than momentary awareness and occasional adjustment.
These muscles are controlled by our subconscious brain which responds to the demands of the conscious brain. In our increasing technological lifestyles, the conscious brain wants you closer to the screen and the subconscious brain accommodates. As a result, the aforementioned muscles translate the head forward and round the shoulders. Overtime we develop a secondary weakness in the posterior muscles of the shoulders. So yes, posterior shoulder girdle strength is necessary but that’s not the whole solution. We must become aware of the forwardness of the head and counter train against it to maintain a more anatomically efficient upright neutral posture.
The good news is once you have re-established connection to these basic movement patterns, you can turn all of the popular gym exercises and any others you favor into a posture exercise. This is accomplished by mastering the 2 exercises discussed here. They are very small and detailed exercises. Their focus is not power or body sculpting. The focus is neurological reprogramming of your postural control mechanisms. These movements are done in a slow and disciplined manner. When done consistently over time they have a corrective effect on the common postural distortions of anterior pelvic tilt and forward head positioning that is very common in our society. If these abnormalities are not addressed, they can cause pain and discomfort, and limit daily function.