The posterior chain is an important, yet often neglected, group of muscles that everyone should be training – whether you’re an athlete, bodybuilder, or just someone who spends most of their time sitting down. The posterior chain is responsible for maintaining your balance and posture, as well as protecting against injury. But because it’s not considered a “mirror muscle,” (meaning that it won’t necessarily change the way you look), it’s usually left out of workout routines by regular gym-goers and newbies alike.
What is the Posterior Chain?
In anatomical terms, the posterior chain includes all of the muscles along your back. Your upper back, lower back and down your legs to your hamstrings, glutes and calves are all part of the posterior chain. A strong posterior chain helps to make up for other muscles that may be weak, helps you propel forward, and reduce the risk of injury. It also contributes to core strength which leads to better posture, better coordination between your limbs, and decreased back pain.
In order to properly train the chain, it’s important to not only focus on each muscle individually but also incorporate exercises that help them all work together in one movement. To accomplish this, a combination of both resistance training and isometric movements is essential. Some of the best weight-bearing, posterior chain strengthening moves include:
- Weighted Squats
- Weighted Glute Bridges
- Plank Rows
- Forward Diagonal Lunges
While weight-bearing exercises are ultimately the best way to integrate your entire posterior chain, it’s vital to also include isometric exercises into your routine. Isolating each muscle helps not only to strengthen them each on their own, but also allows you to focus on those areas you may not always be thinking about during your normal workout. To really work the chain, try these isometric moves:
Single Leg Bridge
For a full posterior chain workout that also gives you a great stretch, the Single Leg Bridge is the go-to. Focusing on the legs will give you more power when pushing forward while walking or running, and lead to a more even gait.
How it’s done:
- Lay on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground and knees hip width apart
- Place Activ5 under your left heel
- Lift your right leg off the ground, keeping your right knee slightly bent
- Press Activ5 as you squeeze your left glute to lift your hips off the ground
Muscles worked: hip flexors, quadriceps, hip adductors, sartorius and iliopsoas muscles
Single Leg Deadlift
The best posterior chain exercises are ones that bring all of the muscles together in one solid movement. Single Leg Deadlifts give your backside a full workout, which also help prevent back injury.
How it’s done:
- Begin by standing hip width apart
- Place the Activ5 under your left heel
- Place your hands on your hips and lunge back onto the ball of your right foot
- Flex your torso forward while keeping your back flat
- Squeeze your left heel into the Activ5
Muscles worked: shoulders, triceps, back, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves
Working the posterior chain helps loosen the hips, which can often become tight from sitting at work, in the car, or on the couch. The Bridge Pose helps open up the hips while strengthening the back, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves.
How it’s done:
- Lay on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground and knees hip-width apart
- Place your hands on your hip bones with Activ5 beneath your left hand
- Elevate your pelvis so your back is straight
- Keeping both feet firmly on the ground, press Activ5 as you squeeze your core muscles and glutes
Muscles worked: hamstrings, rectus and transverse abdominis
This killer leg exercise is great to tone the posterior chain while also giving the core a good workout. Bringing all of the muscles together is the best way to ensure your body is in sync and will help prevent injuries over time.
How it’s done:
- Begin on your knees with your heels against a wall and the Activ5 in your left hand
- Place the Activ5 between your left heel and the wall
- Line up in tabletop position
- Squeeze your left heel into the Activ5 by squeezing your left glute
- Repeat on opposite side
Muscles worked: glutes (maximus, medius, and minimus) hamstrings
Strengthening the posterior chain is important for a well-rounded workout, and your overall health and wellness. Whether you’re an avid runner or a workaholic, you need a strong back and leg muscles to help alleviate pain, improve your posture, increase power and keep you injury-free.
With the Activ5 smart isometric training device, you can get in a quick strengthening session no matter where you are. When connected to the app for iOS or Android, you’ll get access to the best posterior chain exercises, and be able to track your strength, progress, heart rate and more.
Remember, incorporating isometric moves should be part of a total-body workout. Spending a little extra time and focus on those essential posterior chain muscles will pay off no matter what fitness level you’re at.