Here are a few of the most dominate athletes in their sport.
Tennis: Serena Williams
College Softball: Kelly Barnhill
Baseball: Aaron Judge
Football: Odell Beckham Jr.
What is one thing all of these individuals have in common?
You guessed it! They all have a strong posterior chain!
The posterior chain plays a paramount role in unleashing one's athletic ability. When these muscles are strong they can help you run faster, jump higher, throw harder, and hit bombs.
In spite of this not to many people place a large enough emphasis on glute and hamstring training besides using primary exercises such as squat and deadlift variations. If people trained their glutes with as many variations as they tend to train their biceps and triceps I'm sure we would see fewer injuries and more powerful well-rounded athletes.
Here is a quick breakdown of what the posterior chain is, its role in sports and some new variations you can add to help make your backside stronger.
What are some of the main muscles that make up the lower posterior chain?
- Gluteus Maximus: one of the main extensors of the hip.
- Hamstring Group (long head of biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus).
What is their role?
To simply put it, these muscles are responsible for creating hip extension. In order to create hip extension, one must first be in some degree of hip flexion. Some practical athletic examples would be a sprinter starting out of the blocks, a wide-receiver jumping to catch the football or even a softball batter gearing up for the next pitch.
What Consequences can happen if they're weak?
One reason hamstring injuries occur is due to the fact that the glutes are either weak, inhibited (they have a hard time activating) or both. When this happens the hamstrings have to do twice the work to try and make up for this lack of hip extension. This is called synergistic dominance.
How can I make my posterior chain stronger?
- You can start performing squats and deadlift variations that are appropriate for your training age.
- Throw in some glute activation drills in your warm-ups such as (lateral stepping with band around knees, clamshells and glute wall march iso holds)
- Lastly, switch out your 4x15 bicep and triceps routine and do some extra sets and reps to attack your glutes and hamstrings and the end of your training session.
Here are some of my go-to supplementary variations.
DB GOBLET SQUAT WITH BAND AROUND KNEES
Squat variations with a resistance band helps train the glutes through their primary roles: hip extension, abduction, and external rotation.
- For most people set up with a moderate stance width with the toes pointed slightly out
- Push your knees out agains the band. Don't let your knees cave in
- Brace with your core and push down into the ground the entire time
REAR FOOT ELEVATED DB RDL
This particular RDL variation will smoke your glutes and hamstrings and get the extra benefit of working on single leg stability.
- Place your shoelaces on the bench and make sure a majority of your weight (90/10) is on your front leg
- Keep your shoulder blades locked down with your lats
- Really add an extra glute squeeze at the lockout
FROG HIP THRUST OFF BENCH
This exercises I stole from Bret Contreras. He explains "Essentially, you’re flexing the knees, abducting and externally rotating the hips, posteriorly tilting the pelvis, and flexing the lumbar spine, which takes the hammies and erectors out of the equation and shifts the burden almost entirely onto the glutes."
- Place your shoulders on the bench
- Make sure the bottoms of your feet are touching and facing each other
- Brace with your abs and squeeze your glutes the entire time
- If this gets to easy, place a band around your knees
Start constructing your backside!
Your posterior chain is not only essential for powering athletic ability but helping athletes stay healthy and decreasing injuries. Start adding a few extra accessory glute and hamstring exercises to help you dominate life on and off the field.