Thursday, February 28, 2013

The “Go” Muscles

As discussed in my last segment, the posterior chain is absolutely essential to athletic performance.  The posterior chain is made up of the low back, glutes, and hamstrings.  In athletics, the posterior chain is arguably the most important muscle group in the human body.  Unfortunately, it is often the weakest and most under-developed area in most athletes.  The posterior chain is what allows an athlete to jump and generate explosive force (Woodrup, 2008).

High school is typically when many kids begin weight training and more often than not, these kids are left to figure things out on their own.  Walk into a typical high school weightroom and you will likely find teenagers piled around the bench press taking turns maxing out and doing every curl variation known to man, leaving the platforms and racks to collect dust.  In return, these athletes find themselves pulling hamstrings, blowing out knees, and spending much of their season in the training room.

Can this be avoided?  Absolutely it can!  The answer lies in posterior chain development.  Injuries are going to happen.  It’s the nature of sports.  However, a sound strength and conditioning program can limit the frequency of these injuries.  Not only will a strong posterior chain keep you healthy, but will also help punish the opposition.  The posterior chain contains the highest ratios of fast-twitch muscle fibers in the human body and these muscles are typically the biggest and have the greatest strength potential (Woodrup, 2008).

Athletes are competitive, always looking for ways to stay ahead of the game.  I believe the answer lies in training the muscles of the low back, glutes, and hamstrings through movements such as squats, glute-ham raises, Romanian deadlifts, and rows just to name a few.  These exercises will allow you to run faster, jump higher, and stay on the field.

Woodrup, J. (2008). Posterior Chain Versus Anterior Chain: Which is more important?  Retrieved from                                               


  1. Too bad most high schools don't employ strength & conditioning coaches to work with the kids on proper technique and new workout programs. Yes, the larger schools may have a dedicated S&C coach, but the vast majority of the schools leave strength training in the 'other duties as assigned' category of a coach's job description. Your thoughts support the concept of hiring dedicated S&C coaches who are properly trained and credentialed in the athletic performance profession.

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  3. Charles, you are so right about the posterior chain being the key in power development and the ability to run faster and jump higher. Just as you stated about the high school weight room and the bench press being the most popular spot, it’s the same in most fitness centers and gyms around the United States. It might just be a trend of working the vanity muscles (the ones you see in the mirror) or it could be lack of knowledge of not knowing any better. Either way it is our duty and job as fitness professionals to inform these people about the benefits and results you get from working the posterior chain properly. I myself was one that never worked the posterior chain in the past and once I incorporated certain exercises that focused on the muscles of the posterior chain I saw dramatic changes in my body and strength levels.

  4. I can relate with this article completely. All throughout high school I avoided squats, deadlifts, etc. I normally focused on upper-body workouts. When I got to college and had the chance to play football I soon found out that the posterior chain you're talking about is the essential element to being dominant on the field. I wasn't very strong in my lower body which ended up hurting me in the long run. My coaches in high school never enforced lower body lifting that much so technique and proper form weren't applied to me until college. I ended up rupturing my L5-C4 disc in my back while maxing out on squats one morning during workout. Had I been taught the right way to squat before college and built my posterior chain up ahead of time this injury might of been prevented. Now my workouts include lower body lifting with modified workouts so I can still build up my posterior chain. Since I have been doing this along with alot of stretching, I have prevented myself from having artificial disc replacement surgery and can get through every-day-routines without added pain.