Favorite Posterior Chain Exercises

Favorite Posterior Chain Exercises


In preparation for my upcoming figure competition, I have been focusing on undeveloped areas of my physique, including my glutes, hamstrings and back—primarily areas in the “posterior chain.”

I wanted to take a moment to share three of my favorite exercises that target these specific muscle groups. You can view a tutorial of these exercises on my youtube channel achang-pt.com. In addition, I’ve noted key tips and guiding steps below. 

A final note: you’ll notice that I am in a high rep-range (15-20 reps). My coach had me on a higher rep-range or “lactate threshold” program for about 4 weeks. The purpose was to build my ability to remove lactate and determine specific training intensities. So far, I still prefer lifting heavy weights for low reps J . In either case, I hope you enjoy these exercises. 

1) Deficit Deadlifts:

In general, the deadlift is one of the best exercises to engage and develop all musculature in your posterior chain. You should be pulling from a position of power, which allows you to turn on your hamstrings, glutes, lats, and erectors.

In most cases, athletes are initially taught to pull from a position where your feet are roughly hip width apart (Note: there are many variations of deadlifts. I will be discussing the “traditional” style of deadlifting).  In the video below, you’ll notice that I am standing on a 45 lb. plate. I chose to pull from a slightly raised position to increase the time my body is under tension.

A few key items to remember:

1.     Maintain a neutral spine - Make sure that your spine does not flex (or round) while you are pulling the weight.

2.     Head position - Personally, I like to have my athletes focus on a neutral head position with their eyes looking slightly towards the floor. I try to prevent any extension in their neck.

3.     Grip - I tend to use a switch grip when I lift heavier weights, or when I am lifting for more repetitions. The switch grip helps me to maintain tension on the bar and to feel more secure throughout the exercise.

4.     Hip position - Personally, I hinge at my hips and try to focus on reaching my glutes as far back as I can, while still keeping my toes on the floor. Driving through the heels may also increase some glute activation (but don’t let those big toes come off the floor either). Pushing through the big toe will also increase posterior chain activation.


2) Barbell Glute Bridges:

I introduced this exercise into my program a month ago and love it. Below are some key things to remember:

1.  Set up - It’s definitely an awkward set up. After you set up the weights, you will need to roll the bar up over onto your hips. You’ll notice that I used an Airex pad for added support. From there, lie onto your back and lock out your elbows.

2.     Bridge - The Barbell Glute Bridge is like any other bridge. Basically you’re focusing on driving your hips up to the ceiling through your heels. Try to prevent your toes from coming off the floor and your knees from floating out or in too much.


3) Kettlebell swings:

Kettlebell swings are probably one of my favorite exercises. They are dynamic and require a lot of practice to perfect. I have a full tutorial on the swing located on my YouTube channel (achang-pt). Below, I recap a few important items:

1.     Neutral back - Similar to the deadlift, you want a neutral spine. Shoulders are packed, lats engaged, feet driving through the floor and tension on your entire body.

2.     Breathing - You want to inhale as the bell descends and with a quick and tight exhale, you’ll breathe out as the bell floats out from your hips.

3.     Eye position and head position - Similar to the deadlift as well. Make sure that you prevent any extreme extension in your neck.

4.     Tension - At the top of the swing your entire body should be tight. Imagine holding a high tension plank in which you squeeze your lats, abs, glutes, and quads all at once. This is the same type of tension you want at the top of the swing.


Feel free to reach out to me if you have any additional questions or comments!

Thank you for stopping by!

My Top 5 Traveling Tips to "Stay on Track"

Top 5 Traveling Tips to “Stay on Track”

I recently returned from a family trip to Las Vegas. You can imagine the difficulties of staying on track with my specific fitness goals while visiting the city of over-indulgence.

Below are a few key tips I relied upon that may help you to stay on track during your next trip or vacation:

1.    Activity – Seek ways to be as active as you can, even if it’s simply walking.

It’s important to be as active as you can. Thankfully, we walked a ton in Vegas and the location of my hotel was right next to a 24-Hour Fitness.  Should you be traveling in a location without a gym or recreational center, try to find ways to incorporate as much walking into your daily routine. Even a brisk walk can do wonders for lowering stress levels and mobilizing stiff joints.

2.    Preparation – Plan in advance to provide yourself with healthy options.

From past trips, I’ve realized how important it is for me to be prepared in advance of my travels. During this past trip, I packed a bag of protein powder that could easily mix into my morning McDonald’s oatmeal (talk about staying healthy when there appears to be few options!). Additionally, having snacks on hand (e.g., rice cakes and nut butters) definitely helped me hit specific macronutrient ratios.

3.    Lodging – Do a bit of quick research to see what amenities are available at your hotel or lodging.

Knowing what amenities are available at your hotel is key. Is there a gym, a fridge, a nearby grocery store? Researching these key items ahead of time can help to keep you on track.  

4.    Be kind to yourself – Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Being kind to yourself is key.  Understand and allow for times where you may skip a day at the gym, or eat some ice cream. You’re not in your normal routine back home and instances like this may occur. The key is to make sure that you don’t beat yourself up over this. Enjoy the bite of ice cream, sit back and tell yourself “that was delicious.”  Trust me, that one scoop of ice cream or day missed at the gym won’t have you gaining 15 lbs.. However, the negative thoughts generated by such anxiety can lead to negative behaviors like spending extra hours at the gym, or depriving your body from adequate nutrients.

      5. Happiness: Enjoy your vacation because. . . it’s a vacation!

I’m a strong believer that there is nothing worth fighting for if along the way you are not growing, changing and practicing forms of happiness. Vacations should be enjoyed. Personally, I’ve been on vacations before where I’ve obsessed about going to the gym, eating only salads and making sure I wasn’t exceeding my calories/macronutrient totals. Running through these thoughts was not only exhausting, but made me very unhappy.

Every time you travel remember the reason “why” you are on vacation. Is it to spend more quality time with family, to take a break from your work stress, to enjoy some time with your kids, or in my case, to see my 87-year grandma play Black Jack until 12 a.m.! These efforts to “stay on track” will mean nothing if you are constantly unhappy.

Lastly, I do want to mention that the above tips depend on your particular goal. Because I am prepping for another show I had to make sure that I was almost over prepared. If you’re just looking to stay active and maintain your health and physique then your vacation may require less structure.

Thank you for stopping by!!!

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome Future Blog Readers,

As someone who is naturally reserved and accustomed to spending the majority of my day listening to others' personal stories, writing about my own life is a bit of a challenge. Yet, I feel it important for myself, for my clients, and for prospective readers who may be interested in adopting a healthier lifestyle that I create a space where I can reflect on my practice and store the countless new learnings I acquire each day. In addition to fun and inspiring tid-bits gleaned from the web, here's what you can expect:

  • Training advice: I'm hoping to include short video-tutorials linked to my YouTube channel. Too often, I spend time browsing the internet only to find examples of training exercises that I agree with roughly 70% of the time. I'm hoping my blog will provide an archive of various workouts that  current clients and curious web-browsers can watch to learn or to reinforce training or movement drills.
  • Inspiration: As the title implies, there's no sense in "waiting for happiness." Our physical transformations are often intimately linked to emotional or social goals that we keep buried deep inside us. By sharing personal stories of my physical and emotional journey through competing in figure competitions and the continuing daily challenges I face, I hope that you may be able to learn through my experiences and progress on your journey to a happier, healthier life.
  • Personal anecdotes: Last, what is a blog without a bit of fun? I am constantly coming across incredibly entertaining media related to the world of health and fitness and want to share these moments of comedic relief and inspiration with you, not just my friends within the personal training world.  

Last, I want to offer a disclaimer that my guidance and advice is of course only one approach among many. Yet, it is based on my experience of what I have seen work and help transform the lives of my clients. Since part of my motivation in writing this blog is to counter much of the misinformation on the web, I can attest that anything I write or post comes with my absolute confidence.  Enjoy! Please comment and share, as I am constantly looking forward to hearing your thoughts as well.