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!