What the h*** are the posterior muscles of the back?
Don’t worry, I hear that all the time!
And today, I’ll give you the answer. And in addition, I’ll also give you some easy exercises you can do to strengthen these important set of muscles.
Lets dive in……:
- 1 The Muscles Of The Posterior Chain
- 2 What Do The Posterior Chain Do?
- 3 Why You Should Work On Your Posterior Chain
- 4 How To Strengthen Your Posterior Chain
- 5 Final Words
- 6 Further reading
- 7 Recommended Resources
The Muscles Of The Posterior Chain
The posterior chain is the set of muscles on the back (posterior) of your body and is made up of the:
- gluteus maximus (also known as the butt),
- gluteus medius (aka the hips),
- gluteus minimus (the small area just below your waist, normally slightly concave),
- the lower back muscles, and
- the hamstrings and calves.
What Do The Posterior Chain Do?
We can only see our posterior chain by looking in the mirror, but that doesn’t mean we should neglect this set of muscles as they have numerous important roles, such as:
- strengthening your lower back and legs,
- contributing towards building up stamina,
- providing you with strength and speed, and
- giving your body an all-over firm and toned look.
“A strong posterior chain is essential for building good movement patterns, solid strength and bodily support”
Reference: boxrox.com – The Importance of Developing a Strong Posterior Chain for Crossfit
Why You Should Work On Your Posterior Chain
An improved posterior chain provides you with a better posture, by strengthening your back and decreasing pelvic tilt as a result of weak hamstrings and glute muscles. As an added bonus, improving your posterior chain will contribute to your core strength, as a number of these specific muscles are directly tied into the core.
A strong posterior chain can prevent injury during exercise, by reducing the stress placed on your knee joints.
If you play sport, improving your posterior chain will help your performance by decreasing the amount of lower body strength needed to propel your forwards and therefore make you move faster. This is why sprinters have such well-developed glutes!
The posterior chain also plays a key role in helping you to lift items using your legs, while keeping your back straight and ensuring you avoid injury. This is especially important for people who lift weights, or even for those who do a lot of heavy lifting in their day to day work.
Building up your posterior chain will also assist in keeping your body balanced, looking firm and toned from any direction (prepare to look amazing in those jeans!).
How To Strengthen Your Posterior Chain
Most of these muscles are best worked using some form of weights.
However, you can use what you have to begin with and consider investing in some small weights or kettlebells as you get into training those posterior muscles.
Here are some training activities to get you started:
This is one of the simplest (and inexpensive) ways to train your posterior chain. No equipment needed, just find a reasonable stretch of open ground and go for it!
Warming up beforehand and cooling down afterwards is essential for this activity, you don’t want to strain your butt!
Start out slowly with a few short sprints and work your way up to a longer sprint, or increase your number of short sprints. This will also help you to build up your stamina and speed during the process – bonus!
“Sprints are awesome, hill sprints are even more awesome so give them a try. Sprinting up a moderate incline really lets your hamstings and glutes know they need to step up. Find an incline of about 30 -45 degrees and after a thorough warm up perform 4-8 sets of 20-40m sprints depending on ability level”
Reference: fitterfood.com – My Top 5 Exercises For The Posterior Chain
Lean your back against a firm surface that is not going to move around, E.g. a sofa that is resting against a solid wall.
Rest your arms along the same surface; they are not going to be doing any work for this exercise.
Place your feet flat on the floor with your butt resting on the ground, and then raise your hips up while squeezing the glute muscles, until your body is parallel with the ground. Hold the position (counting to four), then slowly lower yourself down to the ground.
You can make this exercise harder by resting a weight across the hips, holding it firmly in place with your hands. Make sure you keep your back straight throughout the whole exercise.
Squats not only build up the posterior chain, but will help you to build your core at the same time.
You can make squats harder by adding an evenly balanced weight across the shoulders or by holding it to your chest with both hands while squatting. Make sure you keep that back straight!
Kettlebell swings (without the kettlebells)
Find items at home that resemble the shape and hold of a kettlebell, if you don’t already own some.
Find a good tutorial for kettlebell swings to ensure you don’t do any damage to your spine while performing these exercises.
You can also use the same items to do dead-lifts instead of paying for lifting equipment as this can be very expensive!
The Farmers Walk
This is also a great exercise for working the muscles in the rear of your body.
Pick up two items that are the same weight and walk with them. You can make it tougher by raising one hand straight up in the air while holding one item, walking, then switching arms and repeating the activity.
Keep your back straight and walk as normally as possible.
Feel the burn!
The Dead March
A variation on the above exercise is the dead march.
As you walk, bend forward; touching the weights (kettlebells, rocks, heavy things you are holding) to the ground. Bend at the waist only, no knee flexing and ensure your back is straight.
Repeat with each step, rise back up, and do it again on the next forward movement.
This exercise should mostly use your hamstrings and hip muscles without putting pressure on your back.
Now you know:
The posterior chain is an important group of muscles which is too often being neglected.The posterior chain is an important group of muscles which is too often being neglected Click To Tweet
A strong posterior chain will not only benefit you in sporting activities, but also in your regular day to day activities.
Following the exercises given, you will have all the tools you need to build up these muscles and give them the love they deserve!
- hometraininghero.com – Workout #4: The Posterior Chain Workout
- boxrox.com – The Importance of Developing a Strong Posterior Chain for Crossfit
- fitterfood.com – My Top 5 Exercises For The Posterior Chain