Protect Your Posture

Let's start this post by reminding you not to read this post with your shoulders pulled forward and your head tilted down! Whether we're on our laptops, phones, taking notes in class- many of our lifestyles involve some form to this posture for extended periods of time. More and more clients come in telling me that they know they have bad posture from how they sit at work, and I've had some clients where their posture has resulted in full blown upper crossed syndrome. They typically complain about tightness around the neck and back pain.


If this looks or sounds familiar, you can use the stretches in this post throughout your day to prevent long-term effects of the posture. While it can be natural for some, for many the posture was developed out of habit- causing aches, pains, and immobility. 

Chest Stretch 

Let's start with the big muscles. Sitting with your shoulders forward gets your chest all settled into a compressed position, making them tight.

  • Reach both arms behind your back.
  • Lace your fingers together with your palms facing up.
  • If you cant' hold your hands, grab the back of a chair.
  • Gently pull your hands down and away from your body.
  • Pull your chest away from your hands.
  • Feel: Your chest opening up.
  • Hold for 30 secs.

Wall slides

On the other side of your chest, those rhomboids and traps (upper back muscles) have been getting no action.

  • Put your hands up by your shoulders, elbows by your sides, palms facing forward.
  • Move your hands and arms up until your biceps are by your ears.
  • Bending at the elbow, slide your hands back down towards your shoulders, elbows back down by your sides.
  • Optional: Do this with your back against the wall, keeping your hands touching the wall throughout the motion.
  • Feel: Your shoulder blades squeezing together.
  • Repeat 15 times.

Lateral tilt

This stretch is for your traps, which also become tight with a static, forward shoulder posture.

  • Sit up nice and tall.
  • Bring your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  • Keeping eyes forward, imagine a line pulling the center of your head 45 degrees left and upward.
  • Hold for 15 secs.
  • Repeat for the right side.
  • Feel: The side of your neck and top of your shoulders being stretched.


Your neck is designed to rotate like a pivot, and it may not do this is you're only looking forward all day. 

  • Sit up nice and tall.
  • Bring your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  • Keeping your torso still, turn your face towards the left.
  • Hold for 30 secs.
  • Repeat for the right side.
  • Feel: The side of your neck being stretched.

Nose circles 

There are muscles deep in your neck that you can exercise, too!

  • Sit up nice and tall.
  • Bring your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  • Keeping your torso still, draw small circles with your nose.
  • At the bottom of your circles, you should be making a double chin.
  • Repeat 10 each direction.
  • Feel: Activation in the back of your neck.

These may take just a couple minutes to do, and I recommend doing them at least every 2 hours if you're sitting through most of your day. These brief periods of stretching/activity can help save you a lifetime of discomfort!

AskHuyen #3: Winter Running

A topic/question you want covered by AskHuyen: 

Running in the winter

Details/Specific Questions: 

Hey Huyen! The air is really dry in the winter, and I find myself getting a sore throat really quick. How do YOU run in the winter and make it more enjoyable?

Layers: Nike Dri-FIT Tank + Nike Dri-Fit Half Zip + Generic Half-Zip Sweater + Lululemon Half Zip + Gloves & Peruvian Handband Souvenir 

Layers: Nike Dri-FIT Tank + Nike Dri-Fit Half Zip + Generic Half-Zip Sweater + Lululemon Half Zip + Gloves & Peruvian Handband Souvenir 

Up there with San Francisco hills and shin splints, winter time is one of the true tests of a runner. Okay so shin splints may be in a league of their own, but for new and experienced runners alike, cold weather could take your outdoor running routine out of the…well...running… completely! 

As a Georgia resident, the weather does a lot of things throughout the year, including drop well below a comfortable temperature for jogs. I see the chilliness as a little challenge each year, and still run at least twice a week during the cold months. I'll cover my winter running strategies that may be useful for your throat issues and make your run more fun.

First, my strategies that keep me from getting a sore throat:

  1. I make sure my chest and throat are covered. Sounds obvious but sometimes people will just wear a crew neck sweatshirt that still leaves their throat exposed. I rock my Nike half-zips. If you don’t have a running zip-up that covers your throat, this breathable running scarf is a more affordable option. 
  2. I also consistently breath in through my nose and out through my mouth. My coaches made me do this in high school and it helped me manage cramps when running. Using this breathing technique in cold weather minutely delays the cold air hitting my throat and lungs, making breathing more controlled and less harsh.
  3. People really don’t think they'll sweat in cold weather, but depending on your exercise intensity and duration- it can absolutely happen. I usually run at least 3 miles and am always sweaty by the end. For the same reasons you hydrate well in the summer, stay well hydrated in the cold months, too. If you’re throat’s already dry, then cold, dry air will fast-track you to Sore Throat Central.

As for my general strategies,

Jogging in place at a traffic light.

Jogging in place at a traffic light.

  1. I start by putting more layers on top of that half-zip I mentioned earlier. Another obvious-sounding recommendation, but some people may choose to just wear their warmest winter coat or layered cotton long-sleeves. I like to have the option of unzipping or taking off a sweater, rather than being stuck in one hot jacket. The layers of cotton long-sleeves may be warm- but aren’t the most sweat-wicking fabric and can cling grossly to your body. I try to have a dry-fit layer closest to my skin.
  2. One of my crucial layers is my gloves because -Lawd, the first run I did this winter, I genuinely felt like my fingers were going to fall off. And it happens! Since your hands and feet are furthest from your core, they can lose heat faster and be more susceptible to frostbite. Even if it’s not cold enough for frostbite to be a concern, your uncomfortably cold hands can cause you to clench your fists, which could mean unnecessary tension in your arms and shoulders. So, wear gloves if you can!
  3. I do a dynamic warm-up to prepare my muscles. A few I do from this video include A-skips, butt kicks, birds, and high knees.
  4. Since I run around Nawfside Atlanta, aka the Gwinnett Suburbs, I stop at quite a few traffic lights. When I get to the lights I try to keep my heart rate up and my body warm by jogging in place, while bobbing my head to whatever’s bumpin' in my headphones.
  5. Speaking of headphones, I don't know how I made it through three seasons of cross country without listening to music while I ran. For some people, it helps put you in the right mindset to push yourself through the run.
  6. If you need a more literal push, you can never go wrong with a workout buddy who wants to run with you. Even if you're on different fitness levels, the fact that they want to go with you means that you have an accountability parter. If one of you is slower than the other, you can lunge while they power walk, or stop to do squats in place as they rest. An audible "let's go" can be the difference between literally going the extra mile, or turning around to go home.
  7. Finally, as your nose might be running, your head feels weirdly moist under your hat and you're wondering why you're doing this to yourself- remember the purpose you attached to this run. It's putting you closer to your health goals and proving that there's yet another obstacle that can't get in your way.
Nancy doing the Bird warm-up drill.

Nancy doing the Bird warm-up drill.

Huyen's Workout #5

Upper Body Chest & Back Supersets

Applied the AskHuyen on Supersets to this Upper Body workout! 

This video would be an example of traditional supersets working opposing muscle groups. If you've been training for a while, you can do compound sets to increase the intensity. Compound sets entails doing two different exercises for the same muscle group consecutively, with little to know rest. See the most recent AskHuyen for more information on Supersets and how to use them if you're a beginner!

🎶➖ @thefewatl x L8KB - Jazz Don't Crash .

AskHuyen #2: Supersets for Super-Beginners

A topic/question you want covered by AskHuyen: 


Details/Specific Questions: 

I'm a beginner and would like information on supersets. The best workouts? What are considered "opposing body parts"? Help! ️

Photoshop skills on 10.

Photoshop skills on 10.


Have no fear! Supersets are here! And beginner-friendly.

I’ll save the superset work-out recommendations for the end. First I want to establish exactly what supersets are, and why you’d even want to do them.

Though they may sound like the name for some extra advanced training method reserved for advanced lifters, superset just means that you’re alternating between two exercises back to back, often for opposing muscle groups and with little rest. (NSCA). 

Opposing muscle groups essentially act opposite to each other. For example during the bicep curl, the bicep contracts while the tricep lengthens. It’s usually pretty easy to identify them since most are literally opposite to each other on your body (quads and hamstrings, chest and upper back, abs and mid/lower back). Here’s a more extensive list using the scientific names.

I enjoy supersets when I’m trying to hit muscle groups hard while saving time. 

Alternating between opposing muscle groups during a circuit allows some muscles to rest briefly while you work the other muscle group. When I bench press, I’m primarily using my chest, while my back helps me stabilize. Then I can go straight into a bent-over row, where my back now does most of the work.

Emphasize brief* rest periods between the two exercises, because it helps keep intensity nice and high- increasing your Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), which translates to more work for your muscles and higher calorie burn. If I wasn’t supersetting and had just finished some heavy front squats, my quads would need to rest longer, allowing me to catch my breath for longer- decreasing my EPOC. Instead, I could superset the squats by going into deadlifts since my hamstrings would be ready to do more work.

With only two exercises per circuit, you'll also get the benefit of not moving around the gym as much or hog as much equipment as you might need to for a longer circuit. You can complete a superset of bicep curls and tricep extension with the pull of an iron pin/safety lever on the cable machine with no travel at all.

As a beginner, don't overdo it on your weights- focus on maintaining proper form. Despite that shorter rest periods can increase intensity, keep your training level in mind your rest periods so that you don't pass out. No one wants that. My good friend and C.S.C.S. Aaron High noted that supersetting completely different muscle groups could be best for super-beginners. During a quad-dominant front squat, you’re still activating your hamstrings somewhat, so to ensure enough rest, you can go straight into some push ups instead of deadlifts. 

As you train more you'll be able to lift heavier weights and rest less in between opposing muscle groups.

Okay, now here are some common supersets including those mentioned throughout the article:

  • Bench Press (Chest)- Bent Over Row (Back)
  • Bicep Curl - Tricep Extension
  • Squats (Quads) - Deadlifts (Hamstrings)
  • Leg Extensions (Quads)- Leg Curls  (Hamstrings)
  • Back Squat (Lower) - Push Up/Chin Up (can be assisted) (Upper)

Hope this helps and keep the questions coming!

AskHuyen #1: Breasts and Barbells

The most common questions I’ve heard about the effects of exercise on breasts are:

  1. Will too much working out make my chest smaller?

  2. Can I do any exercises to make my boobs bigger?

My answer to both questions would be - don't stress it! As long as you're working your opposing muscle groups proportionally, and you're getting stronger and healthier- that's what counts!

But just in case you're looking for more of an explanation, here's a few points I need to lay out first:

  • First, every boob is a beautiful snowflake. Really- the ratio of fat to glandular tissue in each pair of breasts varies from person to person. 
  • Next, spot treating fat on particular body parts is not an accurate conception of fat loss. When you lose body fat via exercise, you’re losing that fat throughout your body.
  • Finally, your chest muscles lie under the breast tissue. Increases in chest muscle does not equate to increases in breast tissue.

Therefore, the answer to question 1 is: it depends. “Too much working out” is relative, but the flatter chests you might see in female body builders are due to abnormally low body fat percentages. If you’re like me, and are trying to hold on to what you’ve been gifted while chiseling out some abs- then you do not have to fear as long as your body fat stays within a healthy range.

On the other hand, if you are trying to decrease your bust, exercise and a proper diet contribute to fat loss overall, which would include the fat tissue in your breasts.

The answer to question 2 is: technically no, exercise cannot increase your bust. But perceptually, exercise can. Working the chest muscles helps with posture, i.e. fixing imbalances such as rounded shoulders- allowing your chest to get its proper shine if that’s what you seek.

The bottom line is that chest exercises should be included as part of a balanced exercise regimen. Regardless of any concerns for the appearance of your chest, a healthy body that can easily participate in activities of daily living i.e. opening doors, washing scalps, or punching people (not my daily life but, hey)- requires attention of all major muscle groups.


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