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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Posterior Chain and its importance in athletics and everyday life

If you are an athlete or just a weekend warrior and do not know what the posterior chain is, you are missing a huge part of your training that will change your game.  The posterior chain is the kinetic chain of musculature tendons and ligaments that runs down the back of your body.  This chain includes all the musculature of posterior portion of your body and are some of the most important muscles involved in athletics and functional movement.  Generally when speaking of the posterior chain most people refer to the erector spinae, glutes, hamstrings, gastroc and secondly trapezius rhomboids etc.   The importance of this chain is that it involves musculature with the highest content of fast twitch muscle fiber and enables you to jump higher pick heavier things up throw things overhead etc.  These movements are of obvious paramount importance in just about every sport that exists and especially combat sports football and basketball and any throwing.
The king of all posterior chain movements is the squat, but this is certainly not the only way to develop a strong kinetic chain.  The following videos will teach you how to properly squat using the posterior chain and I highly recommend watching the entire series of videos.

Lets look at some other really great exercises to develop the posterior chain starting with the glute ham raise.  I am going to show the version you can do using a partner because the unfortunate truth is that most modern gym don't have the proper strength training equipment for this exercise.

Another exercise that specifically develops the posterior chain is the Romanian deadlift and of course the standard deadlift.

Some of the most overlooked exercises for the posterior chain include all variations of hip thrusters, single leg double off a platform or bosu ball etc

There are many more exercises for development of the posterior chain that require a great amount of technique that take a long time to learn such as the olympic clean and jerk and snatch.

I suggest taking a long time to learn these lifts with a qualified instructor if you plan on doing them, I know that crossfit has popularized them but they have also bastardized the lifts and hurt people badly.
There are many ways to train without the olympic lifts and many top strength trainers refuse to use them do to risk of injury to the athlete.  Joe Defranco one of, if not the best strength coach training professional athletes right now does absolutely zero olympic lifting and substitutes with weighted box jumps heavy trap bar deadlifts Zercher squats and box squats.

Zercher Squats

There are many more ways but these are a great start for the development of a strong posterior chain.
Its not the muscle you can see in the mirror that will make you a great athlete but the muscles you cant see that make all the difference on the field and in life.
Due to popular demand and my belief that it is a great exercise I will include the kettlebell swing.  This is another exercise that you see being done wrong over and over again your local health club.  The exercise has nothing to do with your arms or shoulders and everything to do with your posterior chain muscles.  If you are not thrusting your hips forward and pulling the weight with your hamstrings glutes and erectors, you are doing it wrong, your shoulders should not be tired after this exercise you are not lifting with them.

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