When it comes to knockin' down your 40 time, shooting in for a powerful double leg takedown, or putting on massive amounts of muscle mass to your frame, training the group of muscles known as the posterior chain is an absolute MUST. The upperback, lowerback/spinal erectors, hip complex, glutes, hamstrings, and calves all make up the posterior chain. If you want to run faster, hit harder, get bigger, and stay injury free you need to be HAMMERING them multiple times per week. While there are lots of interesting ways to train the posterior chain, our main objective is to GET STRONGER. And to do this, we need to use heavy weights and use BIG movements that work alot of muscle mass. Leg extensions and leg curls are out, and compound movements are in! Certain activation and pre habilitative movements are fine as a warm up, but we need to be attacking the weights and trying to set personal records on a regular basis.
With that said, here are my top 7 movements for packing on strength and size to your backside...
- rack deadlifts
- from a deficit
Grip it and rip it...what could be more simple? Deadlifts are the KING because of the loads used. If you want to get super strong from head to toe, then deadlifts are in top order. Typically deadlifting is best done for lower reps, sets of 5 or less as technique becomes an issue much past that.
2) Snatch Grip Deadlifts
- from rack
- from deficit
Perhaps my favorite pulling movement of all time, snatch grip deadlifts will hammer your glutes, hamstrings and upperback unlike anything else. Hit these from a variety of positions for sets in the 6-12 range for hypertrophy or as a max effort movement for a top set of 1-5.
3) Box Squats
We all know that regular barbell squats are the "king of lifts", but box squats force you to sit back break up the eccentric/concentric chain, forcing your hips, glutes and hamstrings to do all of the work. Sets of 2-5 are generally desired, unless working up to a 1 rep max or once in awhile performing some light higher rep work to promote recovery.
4) Good mornings
- wide stance
- Anderson (from rack or suspended from chains)
- bands (for higher reps)
Good mornings get a bad rep by people who do them wrong, but they are an excellent movement for crushing the post chain. With a barbell, I prefer a low bar setting and use either a close or wide stance being sure to keep my back flat. Doing these from a rack aka Anderson good mornings are also a great way to build starting strength. Generally sets in the 3-8 rep range are used, but higher reps with jump stretch bands can also be done in the 15-30+ range.
5) Romanian Deadlifts
- dumbbell or barbell
A favorite among the old soviet weightlifters, Romanian deadlifts are basically a good morning while holding the bar in your hands with the extra benefit being more recruitment from the upperback and of course the grip!
6) Pull Throughs
I prefer doing these with bands or a sled over a cable, usually for higher reps at the end of a training session to hammer the glutes, hamstrings and erectors. Doing these with the sled the day after an intensive lowerbody day is also great for recovery purposes.
7) Swings (single arm)
These can be done with a single dumbbell or kettlebell, and usually for reps in the 8+ range. If I am using a heavy dumbbell, I might do 2-3 sets of 8-15 or sometimes I will do timed sets with a lighter (24kg) kettlebell for extra gpp work and conditioning.
So there you have it - 7 hardcore movements, each with their own variations that can be rotated throughout your training program. You'll notice that I didn't include movements such as glute ham raises or 45 degree hyper extensions, and while they are great movements, not many people have access to those pieces of equipment. All the movements I gave can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, bands, or a sled - all affordable pieces of equipment that you can have in your home gym.