What Muscles Are Involved in Posterior Chain Exercises?
Out of sight, out of mind is an adage that often applies to workouts, where we sometimes judge our success only by what we see in the mirror.
Even people very serious about training tend to neglect the important groups of muscles visible to those standing behind them.
- The Glutes – The gluteus maximus, or buttocks; the gluteus medius, or hips; and even the gluteus minimus, the depression below the waist, all contribute to lower-body strength and a toned appearance.
- The Lower Back – A strong system of lower back muscles protects the spine, helps maintain a strong core and improves the look of abs.
- The Hamstrings – The three long muscles that make up the hamstrings shape the back part of the thigh and make up a third of the size of the leg.
- The Calves – Toned calves balance the look of fit legs and increase stamina.
It is easy to take these muscles for granted, but by ignoring them you miss the opportunity to make great gains in overall strength. Paying them the attention they deserve will result in a net gain of strength that benefits your body as a whole.
What Are Posterior Chain Exercises?
While people may do the odd exercise that strengthens one or another part of the posterior chain, less often do they combine enough of them to make a real difference to the system of posterior muscles as a whole. Choose a regimen that fits your workout setting and needs.
A back-machine station gives you the option of back raises and some glute-ham raises. For someone with a severely neglected posterior chain, these will at first prove a challenge, but they directly address the central problem of a weak posterior muscle system.
One of the nicest things about the large muscles of the back and glutes is that it does not take long to see a vast improvement in their performance. As they become stronger, they make other exercises for the posterior chain easier to do.
For instance, deadlifts are an excellent way of building up the muscles all along the posterior, and they are simply easier to manage with a strong back. The same is true of squats, which work your glutes and back thoroughly.
Planks and hyperextensions both work the back and the glutes together. They can build neglected hamstrings as well, because all of the work of supporting the body has been turned over to the posterior muscles.
Straight-legged deadlifts stretch and strengthen the hamstrings, though leg curls are the most common way to build them up. Any exercise that takes the weight of the body on the toes will strengthen calves; going up on the toes with the added heft of a barbell over the shoulders is a good way to work these muscles.
Why Are Posterior Chain Exercises Important?
Working the muscle groups of the posterior chain enhances your whole workout experience. Developing strength in your legs and back makes you faster, improves stamina and power and keeps your body visually and athletically balanced.
Improving these muscles that are often neglected also reduces injury. When your body is strong all over, it is ready for whatever comes at it. Address the muscles of your posterior chain for a better-working and a better-looking body from any angle.