How To Do The YTW Exercise


Improve Your Posture With the Y T W Exercise

The YTW exercise (or Y T W exercise) is the perfect place to start that exercise regime you’ve been meaning to get to. What is the YTW exercise you ask? The name for this exercise is very literal as the exercise itself puts your body in positions that form a “Y”, “T” and a “W”.

Have you been struggling with ongoing neck, shoulder, and back pain? You know deep down that you need to take better care of yourself, but you don’t know where to start. You feel slouched and tired, bent over your device most of the day or taking care of kids. If this sounds familiar, this exercise is for you!

The YTW exercise is designed to work muscles that strengthen and stabilize your back, shoulders, and neck. Goodbye pain and exhaustion! Hello mobility, strength, and living your best life.

Best of all, the YTW requires minimal equipment. You can do it at home or in a gym. Let’s dig a little deeper into how to do the YTW exercise.

How Does the YTW Improve Posture?

In our technology-rich lives, we are often staring at screens for extended periods of time whether that be a computer, tablet, or phone. This puts our body in a head-forward, shoulders and upper back rounded position. Over time our bodies adapt to this position, causing over-stretched muscles to become weak and our spines to become less flexible.

We become hunched over, stiff, and sore. This can contribute to:

The YTW exercise helps by strengthening muscles that counteract the strain imposed on our bodies by technology.

How Does the YTW Strengthen Muscles?

The YTW exercise focuses on muscles in the posterior chain of the body. In other words, muscles on the “back” of the body. With technology use and other forward-type motions we do all day, our “front” muscles can become short and tight, whereas our “back” muscles get elongated and weak. This exercise helps to improve all that!

What Muscles Are Strengthened With The YTW?

The Y T W exercise is broken up into three parts: the Y, the T, and the W. Each part strengthens different muscles.

  • The Y strengthens lower trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and erector spinae muscles in the back
  • The T strengthens middle trapezius and rhomboids
  • The W strengthens infraspinatus and teres minor

Getting Ready to Exercise

Please consult with your chiropractor before attempting the YTW exercise if you are struggling with a serious neck, shoulder, or back injury. Although the YTW is a safe, evidence-based exercise, safety comes first.

Different Ways To Perform the YTW

There are several starting positions in which you can perform the YTW exercise, making it flexible for at-home workouts or in the gym:

  • You can lie on the ground face down (prone)
  • Prone on an inclined bench at 45 degrees
  • Prone on an exercise ball
  • Seated or
  • Standing

Amount Of Resistance To Use

The most resistance on your body comes when you oppose gravity, so lying face down, on an exercise ball, or on an inclined bench are best to maximize challenge.

It is advisable to learn the YTW exercise first however, without any weight or resistance. This helps to ensure you are getting the motions correct and activating the right muscles.

Some ways you can increase the challenge are:

  • Adding a 1-3 (or more) pound weight in each hand
  • Using an elastic resistance band
  • Strapping on wrist weights
  • Holding each position (Y, T, and W) for a few seconds at end range to give your muscles an isometric contraction

YTW Specifics

For the sake of this article, the YTW exercise will be described using an inclined bench.

  • The movements described in the Y, T, and W are similar in all starting positions (prone, on a bench/ball, standing, or seated)
  • When trying this exercise, use the starting position that creates the least amount of strain on your body
  • Start slow, with your head in a neutral position so it is as aligned as possible with your body
  • The number of repetitions and sets is dependent on individual fitness level

How To Do The Y

In a prone position on the inclined bench, have your hands hanging down in front of you. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and down (retraction), as if trying to put them into your back pockets. This activates the lower trapezius muscles.

Raise your arms towards the ceiling, thumbs up, slightly wider than your shoulders as if your body is making a “Y” shape. Bring your arms up as high as you can, squeezing those lower shoulder blade muscles.

How To Do The T

Retract your shoulder blades and lift your arms up and out to the sides, thumbs up. Make sure your arms are in a straight line across your body, not forward or back, as if you are a bird expanding your wings. This will bring your body into a “T” position. Some sources say that thumbs down are an acceptable alternative position and strengthens the rhomboid muscles instead of the middle trapezius. 

How To Do The W

Hold your arms in a “bicep curl” position with your palms facing in, elbows bent at 90 degrees and in line with your shoulder sockets. Retract your shoulder blades and open your chest, bringing your upper body into a “W” position. Hold this position for a few seconds at the top – the W is more focused on posterior shoulder stability. When you are fully in the “W” position, both arms should be back, elbows bent, palms of your hands facing the floor.

Get Started On Your Path To Health

At Mind Body Spine, we want to ensure you are living your best life. We don’t just deliver top-notch chiropractic care, we offer nutritional advice, mobility, and strengthening posture exercises to help you achieve better posture, strength, mobility, and endurance. 

Our goal is to work as your partner in health optimization. Book your first appointment and see how Mind Body Spine chiropractic in Victoria BC can help you achieve your health goals!