Why You Should Train Your Posterior Chain

(Short read) The importance of building your posterior chain

The posterior chain (back side) is arguably the most important part of your body is often the most neglected. If you’re not training your posterior chain then you’re missing out on some serious gains. Last week, I tried good mornings for the first time in my life and it was a wake up call for me. I only did 85 pounds using a barbell but after that first set my hamstrings were on fire!

Benefits of Building Your Posterior Chain

Athletic Performance: If you want to be a successful athlete, you’ll need strong posterior chain muscles. To jump or sprint, your glutes and hamstrings are doing a lot of work. To throw a ball or a punch with power, your hips and glutes will be highly engaged.

Weight Room Performance: Your glutes and hamstrings play an integral part in various weight room exercises. The most obvious one is the deadlift. If you don’t feel your glutes and hamstrings while deadlifting a decent amount of weight then something is wrong. In my experience, when my glutes and hamstrings were strong, deadlifts felt easier. The posterior chain is also important for the squat, especially the low bar back squat.

Injury Prevention: Strong glutes and hamstrings will reduce your risk of injury in a number of ways. One way is that the stronger your glutes are, the less work your lower back has to do when lifting an object/weight. Your hamstrings are one of the biggest stabilizer muscles for your ACL. A lot of times people who suffer torn ACLs, have a weakness or deficiency in their hamstrings.

Look Better: Who doesn’t like a nice pair of glutes? If you want to maximize your aesthetic gains, you need to train your posterior chain especially the glutes. In addition to looking nice, I find having strong glutes helps me stay upright and maintain good posture. A strong posture is also visually appealing.

Best Posterior Chain Exercises

Below are the best Posterior chain building exercises that I’ve used. If you want strong glutes and hamstrings, do these exercises.

  • Sprints/Hill Sprints
  • Barbell Hip Thrust
  • Kettlebell Swing
  • Bulgarian Split Squat
  • Extreme Isometric Lunge
  • GoodMorning

In the comments below, tell me your favorite posterior chain exercises!

My Favorite sprint workouts- Sprints, Sprints, and more Sprints

More about the benefits of kettlebell swings- Get an Awesome Body With Kettlebell Swings

Why you should start doing the Bulgarian split squat-Squat Replacement

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How To Train around a Bad Knee

How to burn fat while hampered by a knee injury.

Disclaimer: This post is about how I trained around a knee injury. What you’re dealing with may be different. Please check with your doctor(s) before doing any activity that may put your knee at risk.

If you’ve ever experienced it, you know that knee pain sucks. It can hold you back from achieving your fitness goals. I remember a time when I was battling knee pain as a result of hyperextending my knee. I think not being able to train the way I wanted hurt more than the knee pain. I had to adjust the way I trained in order to keep making progress while avoiding damage to my knee.

It was a challenge at first but over time, I figured out a way that worked for me. Some of the biggest challenges when dealing with an injury is losing muscle, losing strength, and gaining fat. I had to train in a way that protected my knee but still helped me maintain my physical abilities as much as possible.

Build Your Upper Body

A bad knee shouldn’t stop you from being able to build your upper body. If you want to burn fat then building muscle will be very valuable. Your body has to use a lot of energy in order to maintain muscle. That energy usage leads to calories being burned. Even with a bad knee, you can still do movements like the bench press, bent-over row, and pullup. If you’re worried about looking like Johnny Bravo, there are still ways to train your legs depending on severity of injury.

Train Legs Differently

Depending on the severity of your knee issues, you can still train your legs. You just have to be selective about the exercises you choose. One of the keys to choosing the right exercises is to find movements that don’t cause pain. Choosing the right exercises can also help you recover from your injury since movement is a big part of recovery.

Some examples of doing movements differently are replacing back squats with box squats since the box squat focused more on the posterior chain. Another example is replacing lunges with Bulgarian split squats. These are some of the variations that helped me when I was dealing with my knee injury.

Something else that worked for me was adding rehab and prehab exercises to my leg routines. I did a lot of exercises that targeted the VMO ( vastus medial oblique) and hamstring muscles since these are the main knee stabilizing muscles. I also trained my balance as a form of injury prevention.

Cardio Exercises

If you think you can’t do cardio because you’re dealing with knee issues, think again. There are other forms of cardio besides running and jumping. When I was dealing with knee issues, my go to form of cardio was the swing. This is a hip dominate movement so you shouldn’t feel anything in your knees if you do it correctly. The kettlebell swing is one of the most effective fat burning exercises I know. It also builds muscle, which is beneficial for fat loss. It’s basically sprints minus the joint impact.

Aside from kettlebell swings, I benefited tremendously from walking in a fasted state. I think that’s one of the simplest fat burning exercises. The reason it works is your body typically uses carbs as a fuel source when doing cardio. By walking in a fasted state, your body only has fat as a source of fuel to use up.

If you’ve been battling knee pain, don’t give up .There’s always a solution. I hope these tips have been helpful. Please let me know what other ways to train around a knee injury that have worked for you.

Nutrition

I don’t talk frequently about nutrition but it has to be mentioned since the food you eat is a huge fuel source for your body. When I was dealing with the knee issue, the two main supplements I took were Vitamin D tablets and Glucosamine Chondroitin. Vitamin D supports bone health and Glucosamine Chondroitin supports cartilage health. Aside from tablets, you can get Vitamin D from sunlight exposure, dairy products, and eggs. Over time, I’ve also learned that Vitamin C and ginger are good for joint health since they have anti-inflammatory properties.

Glucosamine Chondroitin and Arthritis: https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/arthritis-supplements

Vitamin C and D and inflammation: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/inflammation-fighting-vitamins

Ginger and inflammation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/

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My Top Sleep Hacks

Sleep hacks I’ve used to get great sleep and get better fitness results

When it comes to achieving your fitness goals, sleep might be the most important factor. Without high quality sleep, you’ll be limiting any progress you can make. Sleep is crucial for muscle building, performance, fat loss, and other areas of fitness.

Grounding

What is grounding? The answer is in the name itself. Grounding is walking around barefooted on a natural surface like grass and mud. Barefoot walking has a very calming effect. If you’ve ever had a foot massage, you’ll experience the same feeling of relaxation when grounding yourself. From my experience, most of the time that I ground myself I’m able to fall asleep faster and I wake up less frequently. Do you ever wonder why you sleep so well when you go to the beach? It’s because you ground yourself when you walk on sand.

Beside getting great sleep, grounding has numerous health benefits like reduced inflammation, better mood, and faster injury recovery. One of the best times to ground yourself is after a workout. It’ll calm your nervous system.

Delta Wave Music

Nowadays I like to experience complete silence during the last hour before going to sleep. At some point I listened to Delta Wave Music and even meditated to it before sleeping. The idea behind it is throughout the day our brains are in different ways, depending on what we’re doing. When we’re fully awake our brains are in the beta wave. When we’re relaxed we’re in the alpha brain wave. When we’re drifting into sleep or waking up , we’re in the theta brain wave. When we’re in deep sleep, we’re in the delta brain wave. By listening to delta wave music, I’d fall asleep easier and drift into deep sleep. I stopped listening to delta wave music because I didn’t want to become reliant on it. I’d reccomend it if you find yourself desperate for quality sleep.

Boost Seratonin

It’s commonly known that melatonin is the brain chemical that helps you sleep better at night. You can do things to directly boost your melatonin or you can boost your nightly melatonin productions by boosting your seratonin during the day. The easiest way to boost seratonin is through natural light exposure, especially from the Sun. If it’s a cloudy day, you can still get more natural light exposure spending time outside than you would indoors.

Photo by Aldo Picaso from Pexels

Explanation of the different brain waves: https://nhahealth.com/brainwaves-the-language/

Scientific journal on Grounding: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/

The role of Seratonin in sleep quality: https://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_11/d_11_m/d_11_m_cyc/d_11_m_cyc.html

Try This One Two Punch Combo For a Strength Boost

(Short read) Get great results by doing a workout combo of the farmers walk and the leopard crawl.

Strength is awesome. Being strong gives you a sense of power. It can even save your life. There are many ways to gain strength. During my fitness journey I’ve tried a number of strength training exercises and there are a few exercises that stand out. For the purpose of this post, I’m choosing two specific exercises that boost general strength. The strength gained from these movements are transferable to a number of strength training exercises and even athletic movements. The two exercises are the leopard crawl and the farmer walk. These two exercises are great individually but are also great as a combo.

How To Use Leopard Crawl and the farmers walk together

I usually do this combo after some weighted chin-ups but this can be done separately as a short and efficient workout. Below is my approach.

  • 3 rounds of heavy farmers walks- Each round will last 15-20 seconds. Rest 2 minutes in between rounds.
  • 3 minutes of rest after the last round of farmers walks
  • 5 minutes of leopard crawls- Set a timer for 5 minutes. Every time you stop crawling you’ll pause the timer. The goal is to get 5 minutes of total work done. You don’t have to do 5 consecutive minutes.

Why This Combo Works

This combo of farmer walks and leopard crawls works because they compliment each other so well. They also fit most of the boxes for gaining functional aesthetics. This combo trains your strength, movement quality, nervous system health, and conditioning. The farmers walk works every muscle in your body but also puts tremendous stress on your nervous system. To counter that nervous system stress, the leopard crawl revitalizes your nervous system. By adding the leopard crawl, you speed up the recovery process of the farmers walk.

Post talking about the numerous benefits of the leopard crawl: The Best Exercise You’re Not Doing

Post talking about how the Farmer Walk will get you stronger: Get Strong With Farmers Walks!

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How To Get A Body That Looks and Performs It’s Best

How to train if you want to look and feel your best

Should you train for looks or function? Why not get both. You can look good and still perform in and outside of the weight room. The simple answer to how to get functional aesthetics is to train like an athlete. The problem is you see people performing circus tricks in the gym and calling it athletic training.

Even if you’re not training for a sport or an event, you still want to have some athletic ability. There are several keys to making this work.

Efficiency

You want to be as efficient as possible when selecting exercises. If you’re spending 30 minutes doing different curl variations, you’re not being efficient. One of the keys to efficiency is choosing exercises that hit multiple muscles at one. This is important because most of the physical things you do outside of the gym require you to use different muscle groups at once. Isolation exercises have their place too since they’ll address any weak spots. Just don’t make them the main part of your workout program if your goal is functional aesthetics.

Variety

Variety is the spice of life. When it comes to achieving functional aesthetics that variety comes in the different training methods you use. For functional aesthetics, you want to use the different training systems ( strength, speed, mobility, conditioning, and nervous system training). The key to making this work is choosing exercises that compliment each other.

Strength: Strength is a crucial part of having functional aesthetics. Training for strength the type of muscle that turns heads. Even if your goal isn’t to build a large amount of muscle mass, strength training will force your body to develop some muscles. If you do want to gain a large amount of muscle mass, developing strength will make that feat easier to achieve. When doing high volume mass building exercises, the person who can do 10 reps at 225 will most likely have more muscle than the person who can only do 10 reps at 135. The main exercises to maximize strength bench Press, squat, deadlift, and farmers walk.

Speed: Training for speed is a perfect example of form matching function. When you train for speed, your body adapts to allow you to be more efficient at expressing that speed. Your body will do things like build dense muscle fibers and remove unnecessary fat. This will help you with the aesthetic aspect functional aesthetics. For the functional aspect, speed will help you tremendously in most athletic activities. When it comes to training for speed, nothing beats sprints.

Conditioning: Fatigue can make a coward out of anyone. When you’re tired, you don’t perform as well as you should and you have a higher risk of getting hurt. Working on your condition is functional training because it allows you to do more of any activity without getting tired. It helps you with aesthetics as well because conditioning exercises help you burn unnecessary fat. Similar to speed training, your body will burn extra fat so you can be more efficient at the activity you’re doing. Carrying dead weight will tire you out faster. There are different ways to work on your conditioning but the most useful ways are swimming, hill sprints, and punching bag exercises.

Mobility: You need to be able to move if you want to be functional. Everything is easier when you know how to move. Being a good mover allows you to express your speed and strength in a more efficient way. Being a good mover will also improve your posture. A strong posture is visually appealing.

Nervous System Training: The most overlooked type of training in the fitness world is nervous system training. Yes, every form of exercise trains your nervous system. When I talk about nervous system training, I’m talking about exercises with the specific purpose of making the nervous system efficient. By making the nervous system more efficient, you’ll be capable of performing better in the other training methods like strength, speed, and conditioning. This will support your aesthetic goals. Two exercises I use to support my nervous system are the dead hang stretch and the leopard crawl .

On the functional side, making the nervous system more efficient will help your brain function better. A better functioning brain will provide benefits like improved memory and better processing of information. This can come in handy when you’re learning something new. This is functional training at it’s truest form.

One of the main reasons people get into fitness is to improve the overall quality of their life. Getting functional aesthetics will definitely help with that. You don’t have to be obsessed with your appearance to know that you feel better when you like what you see in the mirror. In addition to feeling good about your appearance, developing functional aesthetics will let your brain and body perform optimally in the different activities of your life.

If you’d like a personalized program for developing functional aesthetics, please email me at chrisameto7@gmail.com

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Quote of The Week-Opportunities

How to create opportunities for the progression of your fitness goals

” Opportunities multiply as they are seized “- Sun Tzu

This quote from the great book, The Art of War applies to anyone with fitness goals. The idea behind this quote is that when you take advantage of the opportunities presented to you, more opportunities will be available. Working out is an opportunity to move closer to your goals. When you workout, you open up the opportunity to learn more bout your body.

Going to the gym is an opportunity available to you. Going to the gym opens up the opportunity fo you to learn something new from a fellow gym goer.

The key is taking action and moving towards your goals. The more action you take, the more opportunity that becomes available to you to achieve your goals.

Something to keep in mind when it comes to opportunities is that sometimes you have to create them yourself. In terms of fitness, maybe you have to ask someone at the gym for advice rather than waiting for someone to help you. By asking for one piece of advice, you open the opportunity for other valuable pieces of advice. If you don’t have a gym membership, you still have the opportunity to improve by doing a home workout.

Everyday is an opportunity to move closer to your fitness goals. Even if you just move an inch closer, you’ll be ahead of where you were the day before.

The Best Exercise You’re Not Doing

Throughout my fitness journey I’ve tried many exercises and exercise variations but there’s one move that really stands out. I’d go as far as saying that learning this exercise was one of the biggest turning points in my fitness journey. The move is called the Leopard Crawl and I learned about it through Tim Anderson’s original strength website.

I say this is the best exercise you’re not doing because I’ve never seen someone in person do this exercise. Maybe it’s because many people haven’t heard of it, it won’t be a social media hit, or crawling like an animal feels weird. Regardless of how you feel about the exercise, it provides many benefits.

Benefits

Core Strength: The Leopard crawl is great for core strength. It teaches you how to use all your core muscles simultaneously. Your core muscles have to stabilize in order to control your movement.

Nervous System Health: The interesting thing about Leopard Crawls is that they’re physically demanding but they’re great for revitalizing your nervous system. The reason why it’s so beneficial to the nervous system is the contralateral aspect of the movement. When you Leopard Crawl, you’re using opposite limbs simultaneously. You use your right hand at the same time as your left leg and vice versa. This forces both hemispheres of your brain to work at the same time.

Back Health: One thing I noticed is that my lower back feels better after doing rounds of leopard crawls. I think this is because of the way the movement is set up, particularly when crawling backwards. Another reason for better back health is the development of core strength cause by Leopard Crawls. A strong, stable core is your back’s best friend.

Fat Loss: Leopard Crawls are great for fat loss due to the metabolic demands it places on your body. It forces you to engage many muscles. The longer you do the crawls, the more cardiovascular energy you have to use. Every time Ive finished a round of Leopard Crawls, my heart rate skyrockets.

Muscle Building: As I mentioned before, Leopard Crawls require you to use multiple muscles at once. You already know about the core muscle engagement but did you know that Leopard Crawls will help you build bulletproof shoulders? They’ll also fire up your chests and triceps. If you don’t have access to a gym and you want to build an impressive upper body, Leopard Crawls will help you tremendously.

How To Do Leopard Crawls

Starting Position: Get down on your hands and knees.

Step 2: Raise your slightly above the ground. Raise your shoulders to a height that it’s above your hips. Tilt your head slightly so you’re looking up at an angle.

Step 3: The Leopard Crawl is a Contralateral movement so you’ll be using opposite limbs simultaneously. As you start crawling, you’ll move your left arm while moving your right leg and vice versa. You can do this forward and backwards. To make this even more difficult, maintain proper tongue posture the way I mentioned in this article.

Regardless of your fitness goal, you can benefit from the leopard crawl. It’s one of the rare exercises that will require a lot of energy but revitalize you after. If you’re not physically ready for the leopard crawl, you prepare yourself with the baby crawl. Give these movements a try!

Original Strength Website: https://originalstrength.net

Better Gains and Less Stress Lies in The Power of The Tongue

How the position of your tongue can reduce stress and boost your overall fitness

When it comes to getting great results in fitness the things we normally focus on are exercise, food, and sleep. These are all very important in order to achieve any fitness goal. One thing that’s often overlooked is stress management. Nowadays, a lot of people are dealing with daily stress, not aware of how it is holding their bodies back.

Stress can be a good thing and a bad thing depending on how it’s experienced. The good stress comes from doing a tough workout or just doing anything that challenges you. This type of stress can lead to growth whether it’s mental, physical, spiritual, or financial. Even the good stress can be damaging if you get too much of it.

The Effects of Too Much Stress

The bad stress is the one that drains you of energy. It’s the type that has you fearing the future or stuck in the past. You may wonder how this stress stops you from achieving your fitness goals. Where do I start?

Stress leads to increased cortisol in your body. Excess cortisol has a negative effect on sleep. The more cortisol you have the less melatonin you produce at night. Melatonin is crucial to sleep.If you’re someone who’s trying to make progress in their fitness, you’ll know that sleep is the biggest key to recovery.

Cortisol also has an inverse relationship with testosterone. The more cortisol you have the less testosterone you produce at that moment. Testosterone is one of the most important hormones when trying to build muscle and/or burn fat. To add to the fat loss aspect, high levels of cortisol is associated with weight gain in the form of fat.

For anyone that’s trying to gain strength, think about how stressful lifting heavy is on your body. Your body can only handle so much stress. How well do you think you’d be able to handle the stress of your workouts if you’re constantly dealing with stress throughout your day?

On the flip side, breathing deeply reduces stress. It’s also great for workout recovery because deep breathing means better digestion of food. Better digestion of food means more nutrients absorbed from the food you eat. For the people who are trying to lose fat, your body has to burn calories in order to digest your food.

Solution

One of the simplest things you can do to reduce stress is to place your tongue at the roof of your mouth. When doing this, make sure your tongue isn’t touching your upper teeth. It sounds weird but by holding this tongue position, you’ll automatically breathe through your nose and into your diaphragm. This allows you to breathe deeply without any conscious effort. Deep breathing puts you in the rest and digest mode compared to the fight or flight mode when you’re stressed.

It’s been six months since I’ve relearned how to properly breathe.I’ve definitely noticed the benefits. I feel more relaxed in general, my digestion is better, and I sleep more deeply. At first it’ll feel weird breathing like this if it’s new to you. After a month, it’ll feel so normal that breathing any other way feels strange. One of the things that helped me the most is doing this while going for walks.

I could go on about the benefits of nose breathing with proper tongue posture but I recommend you test it out for yourself. See how you feel once you make nose breathing a natural part of your life. See how you perform in your workouts, how you deal with daily stressors, and how your body looks as a result. You’ll be amazed!

How Cortisol affects sleep: https://thrivenfunctionalmedicine.com/melatonin-and-cortisol/

Cortisol and testosterone: https://news.utexas.edu/2010/09/27/stress-hormone-blocks-testosterones-effects-study-shows/

Cortisol and weight management: https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/stress-weight-gain

Nose Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing: https://www.oralhealthgroup.com/features/mouth-breathing-physical-mental-emotional-consequences/

Photo Courtesy of: https://www.pexels.com/@snapwire

Fitness Quote of The Week- Actions Over Words

Let your results speak for themselves.

” Work hard in silence. Let success be your noise. “- Frank Ocean

This quote can be applied to fitness and any area of your life. I’ve always enjoyed stay quiet about my goals and letting the results speak for themselves. Sometimes it does pay off to tell others your goals because they can help you get on track if you start to slip off. There are other times that sharing your goals can cause more harm than good.

Sometimes even well meaning people can say things that might cause you to doubt yourself. You can still be confident in the achievement of your goals but now that voice of self-doubt will be louder than normal. Those people might not believe you can achieve the goal or they might be pushing their own self-doubts onto you. In case this does happen, you can try using affirmations to boost your self-confidence.

Another reason I like to let the results speak for themselves is because talking about takes energy away from what you’re trying to achieve. The time you spend talking about the goal, you can be using to take action. When you find yourself doing more taking than action taking, ask yourself if you genuinely desire the goal or you want to achieve it to impress others. You can say or post anything you want but nothing will be louder than your results.

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How To Gain Confidence in any Lift

How to gain confidence in any gym exercise.

One of the biggest keys to performing well in the weight room is confidence. When you’re confident you’re less likely to be affected by limiting beliefs.When it comes to gaining confidence when performing a lift, the best solution is to do that lift more frequently. If you don’t want to do the lift multiple times per week, you can try a high set, low rep workout. This is the closest thing to training frequently.

The key to making the high set, low rep approach work is by choosing a weight you’re comfortable doing. I’ve had good experience with this approach when using it for speed squats. You can use a normal tempo when doing this. The concept is simple. The more you do something, the more confident you are in doing it. The more confident you are in doing it, the more competent you’ll be. This is why many have gotten good results using Pavel Tsatsouline’s grease the groove technique.

I wanted to work these principles in a recent squat workout I had. I have decent competency with the squat but I wanted to take it to another level. Below is a simple squat workout I did which follows the high rep, low set training approach. The reps were at a regular tempo.

Squat Workout

  • Back Squat: 20 sets of 2 at 225 pounds. 1 minute of rest in between sets.

I chose 225 pounds because that’s a weight I can do easily. In context, my squat max is currently 385 pounds, beltless. You can adjust the weight to fit your strength levels.

  • Suitcase Carry: 4 sets of 30 second carries. 2 sets for each arm. Rest 1 minute in between each carry

I added the suitcase carry because it’s a great exercise to build core strength. It also teaches you how to brace your abs, which is crucial when squatting.

  • Extreme Supported Squat: In order to do this find something to hold onto. Once you do, you’ll sit yourself in a bodyweight squat slightly below parallel. Set a timer for 5 minutes and hold yourself up as much as possible. During the 5 minutes you will slowly lower yourself in the squat. You can drop once time runs out.

I learned about this through Sports Chiropractor Dr. Tommy John. The benefit of this is that it builds strength endurance, which will lower your risk of injuries. I notice that my knees feel great every time I finish the slow eccentric squats.

*Warning: The extreme supported squats feel miserable while doing them.

Closing Thoughts

The workout above is something I did for my squats but you can apply the same principle to any lift. Beyond lifting, you can apply it to any movement or life skill you want to gain confidence in.

Video link to Extreme Supported Squat demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67hA3uLnYIM

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