Lower Body Training - Posterior Chain
Intro and Definition of Posterior Chain
Effective glute training enhances performance both on and off the field, whether you are a competitive athlete, a weekend warrior, or just someone who likes being active. The glutes make up a piece of interconnected segments in our body collectively known as the “posterior chain.” Many fitness and rehab professionals define the posterior chain as all the muscles on the backside of your body from the head to the feet (neck and back muscles, lats, glutes, hamstrings, and calves). As you read through this blog, do a quick assessment on yourself. As you look at a profile view of yourself in the mirror, take note of your upper back (rounded?), how about at the hips (is your upper body leaning forward?), moving down how do those glutes look (flat?) and those hamstrings and calves (scrawny?). If you were any of the cues in parentheses then you likely would benefit from more posterior chain training.
Why Train the Posterior Chain
With all of the muscles involved, and all the actions they perform—core stability, power production, functional movement, and activities of daily living (ADL’s)—it makes sense that we should pay particular attention to this area of our body. Not only does the posterior chain aid our bodies as athletes or even weekend warriors, but it continues to play a huge part in our day-to-day activities and overall function. Not training the posterior chain can lead to its own issues that can range from scapular dysfunction to thoracic or low back pain to knee pain, depending on where the weak link is in the chain. So, while it might seem to be a lifelong commitment to training this area, it also doesn’t have to be overwhelming to even the average fitness person.
Regressions and Progressions
When training he posterior chain, a good place to start is to think of how you might progress through exercises, setting up the movement patterns and then adding load once you are comfortable with the basic movements. Two excellent movements for the posterior chain are the hip hinge (at the hip joint) and a hip extension (lying on ground or bench). For the hip hinge, begin with a body weight hip hinge (good mornings) and progress to a deadlift or a Kettlebell swing (also a hinge movement). For the hip extension movement, you can begin this with body weight glute drive (floor or bench) and you can move to body weight single leg. Once you are ready to add load, the Hammer Strength Glute Drive is the ideal choice. This allows you to execute the glute drive movement loaded but it is much easier to get in and out of than a barbell loaded hip extension, much more comfortable, and safer as you progress to higher loads. The hip hinge and glute drive are two extremely effective movements. Familiarize yourself with the movement patterns and then challenge yourself with the loaded options.
I hope that we have made a compelling argument how important the posterior chain is to your health and well-being. While it may look nice to spend an extra five minutes on those biceps and triceps, it may be a better investment in yourself to devote 2-3 sessions per week perhaps picking 1-2 exercises devoted to the posterior chain. We hope that we’ve given you some insight on training and why we should be thinking about training areas that we may not have linked together. Until next time. Happy training.