Rounded shoulders are one of the most commonly observed postural imbalances seen in modern society. The average human spends a large amount of their day sitting at a desk typing at a computer, looking down at our phones, or driving with our hands on the steering wheel of a car. We are the sum of what we repeatedly do, and thus, our “normal posture” becomes a kyphotic t-spine (excessive forward bending), with anteriorly migrated shoulders (forward shoulder rounding), and winged scapulae (shoulder blades that flare up off the spine. These issues can cause chronic back pain, weakness, and may lead to injury due to the fact that they inhibit normal, healthy movement patterns.
The best way to fix these issues is to stop spending so much time in such unnatural positions, get a standing desk and find ways to better ergonomically design ones workspace. If we spend 8 hours in the same position 5 days a week, it becomes extremely difficult to correct postural abnormalities with just a few hours of training per week.
Nevertheless, if you find it difficult to change your daily movement habits, I,Y,T drills are great exercises for fixing shoulder rounding kyphosis, and winged scapulae. These movements get their name because the body of the lifter resembles the shape of the letter when performing the exercise. During the I drill, the lifter will keep the elbows extended and try to pull their arms back while keeping them above the head. This particular movement works the lower traps and depresses the scapulae (pulls them down). The Y movement is similar to the I except at more of a 45 degree angle from the vertical. This movement activates the middle traps and helps retract (pull back) the shoulders). Finally the T movement is when the arms are abducted and held parallel to the floor, working the rhomboids and middle traps, again to help with scapular retraction.
These movements can be done in a variety of ways. One way is to lie prone on the floor and hold each position isometrically (non moving) for 20-60 seconds each. This can be done with as little as no weight, the weight of the arms being plenty to activate the desired musculature, or with no more than 10-15 lbs. I,Y,Ts can also be done lying prone on a flat or low incline bench, or standing with a resistance band anchored to the wall. All of these movements are best performed with light resistance and higher repetitions rather than heavy weight and low repetitions.