Backside. Posterior chain. Back half of your body. Hamstrings. Glutes. Back. Yeah, all dat. I don’t care what you want to call your posterior chain, but I want to make sure that you work it. According to Wikipedia, the posterior chain “is a group of muscles consisting predominantly of tendons and ligaments on the posterior of the body. Examples of these muscles include the biceps femoris (guns), gluteus maximus (buns), erector spinae muscle group (along your spine), trapezius (what most people call their shoulders), and posterior deltoids (back side of your shoulders).” This portion of your body tends to be neglected.
Often, when getting into exercise, people work the front of their body (aka the mirror muscles) far more frequently than the opposing muscles. Many everyday activities that we do tend to either favor the front of our bodies (chest, quads, biceps, anterior delts) and atrophy the back of our body (glutes, hamstrings, spinal erectors). You may be saying to yourself, “Yea, so what,” which is a fair question. You should care to work your posterior chain to gain a balanced, healthy, pain-free body. When we become overly dominant on one half of our body this can lead to injury down the road, or chronic pain, or movement dysfunction. Specifically, when it is our posterior chain that is underdeveloped this often leads to low back pain or knee issues, which is never any fun.
Activities such as running, especially with the form most people run with, primarily uses the front of our body. Also, spin or cycling does the same thing. Pair this with sitting and laying down (especially with poor posture) and this is a recipe for underdeveloped glutes, shortened and weak hamstrings, and weak erectors and traps. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say most Americans fit into this category, so everybody can use a little more posterior chain work.
Now I know what you are thinking, “How do I work my posterior chain??? Tell meee!!”. Calm down, calm down. I'm getting to that. If you haven’t read my post about kettlebells, after you are done reading this, click here. To work your posterior chain there is an assortment of different exercises you can use. However, to avoid boring you to death, I am only going to go over one move per muscle group (hamstrings, back(lats), erectors, glutes)
Glute Bridge. The glute bridge is a great way to work and build your glutes(butt). Start off by lying on your back. Bend your legs so that your feet are flat on the ground and few inches from your butt. Press your low back into the floor and tighten your abs. Drive through your heels and try to tighten your glutes to lift hips up. At the top position make sure knees, hips, and shoulders make a straight line. Then use your legs as breaks to return your hips back to the floor. Repeat.
Hamstring Curls. Working the hamstrings is a must. An often underutilized method to work the hamstrings are hamstring curls done on a stability ball. This works the glutes as well as really targeting the hamstrings. To perform hamstring curls on a stability ball, first lie down on the floor on your back with your arms slightly out to your side. Place your heels on the stability ball so that your legs are bent and knee to hip are vertical. From there you’ll want to bridge up high so that your glutes are tight. Locking your glutes in place, straighten your legs, then pull your heels back in towards you with your hips still remaining high. Repeat.
Pull-ups. I love me some pull-ups. Want strong lats? Do some pull-ups. Pull-ups when done properly help maintain a healthy balanced shoulder girdle. To perform a pull-up you’ll want to grab ahold of a bar that allows you to dangle off of the ground. Place your hands about shoulder width apart with your palms facing away from you. As you initiate the pull, try to pull your shoulders away from your ears. As you pull-up squeeze your shoulder blades and pull until your head is above the bar. Preferably pulling the bar to make contact just below your collarbone. Then, lower yourself back to a hang under control. Do not just drop down. If you cannot perform a pull-up, no biggie. Just use a band to assist you. There is video on my instagram page that shows how to do that.
Farmer Carry. Kicking it old school to develop and strengthen the erectors. Farmer carries, when done correctly, help to improve posture and build a resilient, strong body. The erectors main function is to straighten the back. There are many ways you can perform a farmer carry, but to really just work the erectors and not worry about misaligning your body, I recommend doing evenly loaded farmer carries. Meaning holding a weight in each hand. You’ll want to stand as tall as possible, arms pressed straight to the floor flexing your triceps. Shoulders rolled slightly back without squeezing your shoulder blades together. Walk in control without crossing your feet over.
Working your posterior chain will save you from the many aches and pains that often are just accepted as a part of getting old. You do not have to accept these things as the status quo. If you want a strong and stable body, work your butt, work your hamstrings, work your back and you will feel very put together and well-rounded. If you are able to find a coach who can teach you deadlifts then I highly advise that. Deadlifts do a tremendous job of working the posterior chain as a whole. Talk about proficiency. Now, work your posterior chain and feel the Power of Strength.