written by Chris Tafaro
So you want to be strong and fast? Athletic and explosive? Perhaps injury prevention? Maybe you just want a nice looking butt. Regardless of your goals, all answers point to developing the Posterior Chain. The Posterior Chain is a group of muscles that produce hip extension. They include hamstrings, glutes, and groin muscles. Strengthening the posterior chain is vital to increasing overall performance for sports and everyday life activities. They contribute to jumping, pushing, pulling running and even something as simple as sitting down and standing up.
Figure 1 (above). Posterior Chain
Properly engaging the posterior chain requires all muscles to work simultaneously and move within a full range of motion. When performed correctly, Squatting and Olympic weightlifting are excellent ways to strengthen these muscles. Reaching the proper depth in the bottom of a squat (below parallel) and rising to a full extension at the hips at the top of a squat is an example of an exercise that engages and strengthens the posterior chain.
Figure 2. Proper Depth at the bottom of a squat
Conventional workout programs rarely see exercises that engage the entire posterior chain. Machines that you would see in your typical globogym like the leg curl/ leg extension machine do not strengthen the posterior chain as a whole, instead it works isolated regions of the legs and can create muscular imbalances which can lead to injuries. Additionally, Sports like Soccer and Basketball tend to favor the quadriceps and other front dominant muscles. Neglecting the hamstrings and glutes cause imbalances of the use of leg muscles and puts stress on the ACL. ACL tears are all too common in non contact sports.
The development of the posterior chain is crucial in the prevention of these injuries.
Implementing exercises like deadlifts, Olympic lifts, good mornings, back and hip Extensions burpees, lunges and box jumps into your workout regimen will not only help prevent injuries but will contribute to increased power, performance and total body movement.. This is equally important to people of all ages and athletic levels in order to improve their physical quality of life.