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 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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Fitness Quote of The Week- Patience

The importance of patience in your fitness journey.

“ All great achievements require time” – Maya Angelou

This quote applies to fitness results and anything meaningful that you want to achieve. We live in the age of instant gratification. If we don’t achieve fast results we give up. Having this approach to your goals will lead to mediocre results. If it’s something is so easy to get, then what’s the point?

Everyone you see that’s doing incredible things in fitness took time to get to that point. The people you see with incredible physiques took months or years of hard training and discipline diets to get where they are. Some of the people who that you see lifting large weights struggled to get to that point. Some of them dealt with all kinds of adversity to get there.

If it’s so easy to get then where is the excitement ? Where’s the satisfaction that you get knowing you put in the work to get it ? That you truly earned it. Sometimes you’ll have the fortune to get to your goals quickly. Other times, it’ll take time and dedication. It took me years to get where I’m at in my fitness journey. It’ll also take me years to achieve some of my current goals.

Remember that every step of the journey is an experience itself. In each step you have the opportunity to learn and grow. The things you learn in your journey will be what you use to accomplish the goals you’re currently pursuing.

Fitness Quote of the week- Quality over Quantity

(Short post) quote on choosing quality over quantity

“ Don’t count the days, make the days count “- Muhammad Ali.

This quote can be applied to your workouts. Focus on the quality of your workouts rather than the quantity. You’ll get further with a few a high quality workouts each week than several sloppy workouts.

When you focus on quality over quantity, you’re present to your workout. When you’re in your workout, you have the opportunity to learn something new. You’ll also enjoy it more because you’re feeling the whole experience.

By focusing on the quality of your workouts, you’re less likely to get injured. You’ll respect your workout recovery so you have quality workouts.

Having this approach will also bring a shift in mindset that will help you in the long run. When you’re focused on the current workout, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll achieve your fitness goals. You won’t be thinking about what could go wrong in the future. By not focusing on those thoughts, you’ll be more resilient and confident in what you can do. Our minds are our biggest obstacle if we let it.

Fitness Quote of The Week- Consistency

(Short read) the importance of consistency

“ I train to be the best in the world on my worst day “- Ronda Rousey

This quote from a former UFC champion is about consistency. You may not be training to be a world class athlete but you’re probably training to reach a fitness goal. If it’s a worthwhile goal, it’ll be one that challenges you.

On your mission to achieve the goal, you’ll have some days that you don’t feel like training. You’ll feel tired, stressed, or something else. Unless you’re sick or severely exhausted, you should do something. Something as little as mobility work or extra stretching will help in the long run. One of my personal workout principles is to always show up.

When you show up, you may not be going 100 miles per hour but you’ll be doing something. Even if you lower the intensity of an exercise significantly, you’ll still be working on those same movement patterns. This can make you more efficient the next time you do the exercise.

If you’re trying to lose fat and you normally run 2 miles a day, running half a mile will help you more than sitting on the couch and doing nothing. Personally, I prefer sprints over jogging.

Just show up. That small amount of progress gets you closer to your goal than the day before. The added benefit of always showing up is it always gives you an opportunity to learn.

Quote of The Week- Importance of Challenges

The importance of challenging yourself in fitness.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”- Fred Devito

This is straight to the point. If you want to achieve any meaningful fitness transformations, you’ll have to challenge yourself. You’ll have to do workouts that scare you a little and make you uncomfortable.

Many fitness gurus will try to sell you on a miracle diet or workout to get quick results. This isn’t reality. Anyone you see with a great body or lifting big weights had to put in the work to get there.

Doing heavy compound lifts is challenging. Saying no to delicious junk food is challenging. Sprinting up hills is challenging. These are the types of things that will transform your body.

Fitness is as much mental, as it is physical. Your body won’t be the only thing that transforms when you challenge yourself physically. Your mind will too and you’ll develop that fitness mindset.

Quote of The Week- Keep Trying

(Short post) This quote is for anyone who’s struggling to get the fitness results they’re seeking.

“ No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of anyone who isn’t trying.” – Tony Robbins

This quote is for all of you that feel struck in your fitness journey. We all hit that wall where it seems like we’re not getting anywhere. The key is to not be hard on yourself. Just keep working.

To any of you that feel guilty about cheating on your diet , don’t sweat it. Try to learn from the experience and start fresh. Learning to forgive yourself when you slip up is the key to longevity.

I hope this quote helps you break out of your funk and move closer to your goals. I’ll make it a habit to share a quote each week.

Applying Martial Arts To Strength Training

What you can take from martial arts to help you achieve your strength goals.

I’ve always been a fan of martial arts since I was a kid. I went from watching Jackie Chan movies to watching UFC fights. The more I understand martial arts, the more I see how it’s principles can be applied to other sports and activities for maximum results. One activity that can benefit from being approached from a martial art standpoint is strength training. This post I’ll share some martial art principles that can be applied to strength training.

Technique

The key to moving heavy weight is generating enough power. In order to do that you need to have good technique in your lifts. Martial artists are able to generate a ton of power in their punches and kicks because they spend time working on their technique. It often looks effortless in how they do it. That’s how you want your lifts to be.

Having good technique makes your nervous system efficient at the move you’re working on. The nervous system is the source of power for any movement.

Repetition

I mentioned this in my Bruce Lee article but you need to get your reps in for any movement you want to get good at. This goes hand in hand with technique. The only way to master your technique is to get a ton of high quality reps.

One of the easiest ways to get more reps in is applying Pavel Tsatsouline’s grease the groove technique. The method of this technique is to do an exercise as often as possible without fatiguing yourself.

White Belt For Life

The idea behind this phrase to always see yourself as a beginner. When you’re a beginner, you’re not satisfied. You always have that hunger to get better.

It’s ok to acknowledge your experience but don’t be attached to that image. When you approach your workouts as a beginner, there’s a different level of excitement. You see endless possibilities for improvement.

Another benefit of seeing yourself as a beginner is humility. The humbleness of a beginner will stop you from being hard on yourself if you miss a lift or have a bad workout. It’ll also stop you from ego lifting because you’ll be so focused on getting better, you won’t have time to try to show off to others. The humbleness of a beginner will remind you that you have time to achieve your goals. You don’t need to have it all now.

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Do This Instead of Foam Rolling!

Movement training will unlock new levels of your fitness.

Movement seems like a forgotten art. When it comes to training our bodies, we’re often focused on sets and reps or body fat percentage. Sitting most of the day has also made us forget what it’s like to be a good mover. Ever since we were babies we’ve been moving. Over the last couple of years I’ve gained interest in movement training through seeing famous people like Ido Portal and Conor McGregor utilizing it. I’ve even heard about movement training from fitness coaches like Tim Anderson and Steve Maxwell.

Movement goes beyond mobility drills. Mobility drills are usually done to prepare for a specific workout. Movement training is done so you can move well all the time. I still do mobility drills but doing movement training reduces the need for mobility drills.

Movement might be the most important aspect of fitness. As a student of strength, I hold strength training in high regard. Strength is a critical part of any fitness program but if you can’t move, that strength will be limited. Imagine trying to squat with tight hips and tight ankles. Imagine trying to overhead press with a stiff upper back. Movement quality is what will help you reach your full strength potential. Even if you’re training for looks, being a good mover will help you in that area as well. People who move well typically have good posture. Good posture is very attractive.

This pandemic has allowed me the extra time to focus on areas of fitness I normally ignored, specifically mobility/movement. Being able to move even goes beyond fitness. When you move well in your daily life, you feel good. I’ll share some of the movements that have helped me the most.

Movements

Cross- Crawls: Cross Crawl movements are a key part of my current training routine. The main benefits I’ve seen from them are improved coordination, core strength, and nervous system efficiency. Below is a short list of the different cross=crawl movements you can add to your workout routine and life overall.

  1. Cross Crawl Superman: In this move, you’ll start off lying on your stomach. You’ll raise your hands over the shoulder so that your thumb is pointing to the roof. Your toes will be pointed to the the floor.
  2. Leopard Crawl
  3. Bird Dog
  4. Deadbug
  5. Baby Crawl: The name of this move is appropriate because you start off on your hands and knees like a baby. You’ll also tilt your hand up and place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. As you start crawling forward, you’ll move one arm forward while moving the opposite leg simultaneously. You’re basically crawling on your hands and knees. Choose a soft surface so the movement is knee friendly.

Rolls: Doing any type of roll will help you with your ability to move. There are many variations of rolls like forward rolls, lateral rolls, frog rolls. If you can move well on the ground, you can move well while standing.

Balance Work: Being able to stay balanced is a key part of moving well. There’s a simple exercise that I learned from Dr. Tommy John. You’ll stand up on one leg and lift the other leg forward. Keep the non balancing leg straight while it’s raised in the air. Hold this for 5 minutes and switch legs.

Yoga: Doing yoga will greatly help your ability to move. A full yoga practice will integrate some cross-crawl movement and balance work. Yoga also loosens up your muscles which makes it easier to move. If you’re looking for more info on yoga, check out this post I wrote last year.

Resource for different crawling and rolling exercises: https://www.youtube.com/user/OriginalStrengthSys

Demo of cross-crawl Superman : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llT817YDrII

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

The Most Impactful Weight Lifting Protocols

The three weight lifting methods most responsible for my strength gains.

If you’ve been following this page for a while, you’ll know that weight lifting has been a major part of my fitness journey. I’ve used many weight lifting protocols but there’s a few that stand out as having the most impact for me when it comes to gaining strength and transforming my body.It’s important to understand the basics but once you have those mastered, you should look into the different training methods to see what will help you achieve your goal. I plan on sharing the lifting methods that have helped me the most with gaining strength. They’ve all helped me in different ways.

Loaded Carries

Loaded carries have been an absolute game changer. They’ve had so much impact that I still find ways to do them while my gym is closed. Loaded carries can help you with a number of goals like muscle gain, fat loss, and increased work capacity. I’ve noticed the benefit mostly in the strength department. Moving heavy weight just feels easier when loaded carries are part of my program. Maybe that’s why strength coaches like Dan John and Charles Thibadeau reccomend loaded carries to lifters.

Two things that make loaded carries special are core engagement and grip strength. Your core has to be braced when walking around with weight. This high level of core engagement transfers well to squats and deadlifts. Your level of core engagement in these lifts can make the difference between a successful lift and a failed lift. Having your core well braced will also help with injury prevention.

The grip strength I’ve gained from loaded carries have also helped me with my overall strength. Grip strength goes beyond just helping the deadlift. Try any lift, regardless of the target muscles and see how much easier it is to move the weight when you can grip the bar tightly. It’s because squeezing something tightly sends a message to your brain that you’re in danger, causing your body to tense up. Tension is one of the biggest keys to lifting heavy weights. You can benefit from the different variations of loaded carries.

Speed Work

Compensatory acceleration training (CAT) helped me tremendously when I felt stuck in my squat and deadlift. It makes perfect sense that the faster you can move a weight, the easier the lift is. The key to CAT is moving the weight as explosively as possible during the concentric/ upward portion of the lift. By doing this, you learn how to apply more force to your lifts. Force is what moves objects. In order to move 400 pounds, you need to apply more than 400 pounds of force. I’ve only applied it to squats and deadlifts but I’ve noticed great gains from CAT .

Cluster sets

Cluster sets are an awesome way to build strength. They’re a great way to get your body comfortable with heavier weight. Cluster sets allow you to do more reps of a certain weight than you normally would by taking mini breaks in between each set. If you can only do three reps of a weight, clusters will allow you to do more. I go into greater detail about cluster sets in the post dedicated to Strength Coach Charles Poliquin.

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