5 Daily Posterior Chain Strengtheners
One of the major keys to lifting heavy, unlocking athletic performance, and remaining injury free, is having a strong and durable posterior chain. The posterior chain is the group of muscles along - you guessed it - the posterior side of your body, including the hamstrings, glutes, erector spinae, trapezius, and rear delts. There is an old saying that if you want to be functionally strong then you need to train the muscles that you cannot see in the mirror harder than the ones that you can.
The deadlift is the king of all posterior chain exercises, but is deadlifting heavy a few times per week enough? I do not believe so. Because of the complexity and various sizes of the muscles along the posterior chain, doing compound movements only will not build resiliency in that area. Also, if you have a weak link - let’s say the lower back erectors - then they will actually limit your progress on the larger compound movements.
I am a firm believer in doing SOMETHING for the posterior chain every day. Now, that doesn’t mean you should train that area for strength (high weight, low reps) every day, but utilizing a revolving cycle of both movements and rep schemes will ensure that you build the work capacity of and eliminate any weak points along the posterior chain.
Here are 5 exercises you can incorporate on a regular basis:
1. Hyper Extension
Use a 45 degree hyper extension machine or lay face down across a Swiss Ball and relax your back so you curve around it. Place your hands behind your head and arch up until your spine is straight, squeezing your glutes at the top. Slowly relax to starting position. Do not bounce. Advanced athletes will need to hold plates or a dumbbell behind their head.
Application: rotate days between heavy 3 sets of 5-8 reps, light body weight for 100 reps total, and band resistance for 3 sets of 12 reps.
2. Stability Alternates
Begin from either your knees or a Swiss Ball, slowly raising one leg and the opposite arm, holding each rep for 2 seconds at the top. Advanced athletes start in a push up position.
Application: 3 sets of 5 reps per side when using as a pre-workout warm up, or 2 sets of 10 reps per side with a 3 second pause when done for strength after lifting.
3. Kneeling Hamstring Holds
Kneel down against a wall or hang from a pull up bar and curl your feet up behind you, contracting your hamstrings. Squeeze a med ball between your ankles or have a partner load a heavy one on top of your ankles. Keep your hips forward and knees back as you hold for the prescribed time.
Application: use a med ball for 3 sets of 5 second holds for strength, or no weight for 3 sets of 10 second holds for hamstring activation before deadlifting, squatting or running.
4. Adductor Static squeezes
Lay on your back in a sit up position and place a med ball between your knees. Flatten your spine to the ground and squeeze the med ball as hard as possible for 3 sets of 5 seconds.
Application: although the adductors are not technically part of the posterior chain, making sure that yours are active and firing is still crucial to posterior chain health. The adductors play a large roll in stabilizing the pelvis (particularly during split stance movements), so if they are inactive or weak your posterior chain will have to work overtime as stabilizers, which can lead to some compensation issues, and yes, injury. I do 3 sets as part of my daily warm up before any training session.
5. Glute Bridge
Lay on your back or across bench with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Press thru your heals as you bridge your hips up, squeezing the glutes at the top.
Application: Rotate thru a strength day (3 x 5 with a heavy loaded dumbbell) and 2-3 days doing high reps thru band resistance or single leg time under tension as a warm up before training.
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