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

Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU from Pexels

Strong Feet Equals a Strong Body

The importance of strong feet and ankles for your physical performance

A tree without roots can’t stand. If you’re physically active, you need to take care of your feet. Your feet have so many muscles in them and are connected to the rest of your body. If you’ve ever tried reflexology, you’d understand how much your feet affect the rest of your body.

From my experience, when my feet and ankles are healthy I perform my best. There are many benefits to having strong feet and ankles.

Benefits of Strong Feet and Ankles

Better Balance: This one is pretty obvious. When your feet and ankles are strong, your balance will be better. This is important in every fitness activity that involves standing. When your balance is off, your other muscles will have to work even harder. This will make the activity you’re doing more difficult than necessary.

Injury Prevention: Playing any sport with weak feet and ankles is a recipe for disaster. In most sports you’re constantly changing directions and putting your ankles in awkward positions. When your feet and ankles are strong, these awkward positions won’t be an issue to you. I already mentioned how other parts of your body have to work even harder when your feet and ankles are weak. This can lead to overcompensation of those muscles. Overcompensation of muscles often lead to injuries. If you’ve ever tried to squat with a bad ankle you’d understand. It sucks!

Stronger Nervous System: There are several nerves in your feet that connect with the rest of your body, including your brain. When my feet have been strong and healthy, other parts of my body were too.

 

Feet and Ankle Strengthening Exercises

Tennis ball, wall throws: This is one of my favorite feet and ankle strengthening exercises. To do this exercise, stand on one leg and use your opposite hand to throw a tennis ball off a wall. Once the ball bounces off the wall, you’ll catch it with the same hand. Do this for 50 reps and then switch feet and hands.This will also make your nervous system more efficient because your brain is working hard to keep both sides of your body in sync while doing the exercise. You should do this barefoot.

Barefoot Walking: One of the easiest ways to strengthen your ankles and feet is by walking barefoot. Go to an open grassy field, take your shoes off, and start walking. You may get some funny looks but the benefits are worth it. Barefoot walking has helped me recover from a previous ankle injury. Not only will you feet and ankles get stronger and healthier but you’ll also feel better because all the nerves in your feet will be stimulated. I’ll go more in-depth on barefoot walking benefits in a future post.

Standing Yoga Poses: I’m a big fan of yoga for physical health. It’s something I do several times a week. Standing yoga poses like the Warrior 3 and the Tree Pose will definitely help with ankle and foot strength. If you want to make them even more challenging, try these poses with your eyes close. This actually makes your feet and ankles work harder to stabilize.

If you haven’t been taking care of your feet and ankles then you’re missing out on several performance benefits. Stronger feet and ankles could be the missing link to your training program that moves you significantly closer to your goals. Give some of these exercises a try and reap the benefits.

Photo by Gabriela Mendes from Pexels

How To Build An Impressive Body

I’m sharing my formula for achieving a body that looks good and is functional

What’s an impressive body? It depends on who you ask. Some people would say a hulk like body of an elite bodybuilder while someone else would say the slender body of a yogi. To me an impressive body is one that can display strength and athleticism. An impressive body also makes you want to say ” Damn I look good ” when looking in the mirror. I like looking and feeling like an athlete. Transforming your body to its best version is very simple. It’s simple but not easy. This post is based off of personal experience and years of observation/ research.

Diet: The most important thing you can do to transform your body is having a good diet. The simplest way to describe a good diet is one in which you mostly eat non- processed foods. My diet includes a lot of lean meats, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats. I also eat most of my carbs for breakfast and post-workout meals. Also , try to add foods that improve your insulin resistance. Diet is the MOST important part of a body transformation.

Lifestyle: Your lifestyle also plays a big part on how successful your body transformation will be. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep and reduce stress. You need to recover from the stress of training but that’s difficult if you’re dealing with a lot of outside stress. Lack of sleep raises the stress hormone cortisol in your body. One thing that I do to reduce stress is meditate Meditate For Faster Results!! .

Workouts

Time for the sexy stuff. When it comes to training to build an attractive and strong body, focus on activating as much muscle fibers as possible. The most ripped athletes in the world all do some type of training that involves a lot of muscle fibers.

To activate a lot of muscle fibers in your training, do moves that involve a lot of muscular tension, explosive movements or both. Including both in your training will help you maximize your potential.

If you want to maximize muscle tension, do heavy compound lifts. Compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, and bench press at 85-95% of your max will utilize a lot of muscle tension. In case you don’t know, a compound lift is a lift that involves many muscle groups. You can also create a lot of muscle tension using your bodyweight. Gymnasts utilize a lot of muscle tension through the various movements and poses they go through.

The other part of this equation is explosive movements. The most explosive movement you can do is sprints. No wonder sprints are known for their fat burning benefits. Proof of this is the physique of most sprinters. Plyometric jumps and Olympic lifts are other forms of explosive movement. You can also do traditional lifts in an explosive manner Use CAT For Strength Gainz.

Conditioning:  Adding some type of conditioning to your workout routine will drastically help you with your appearance. I’ve never seen a highly conditioned athlete that’s fat. I’m not calling this cardio because the word cardio is often associated with steady rate movements like jogging or biking.

The type of conditioning I’m looking at is of the high intensity mold. Doing repeated movements that tax your muscles and leave you out of breath is the type of conditioning that will lead to major physical changes. Examples of this are hill repeats and kettlebell swings. These are both great forms of conditioning because you’re repeating the movements and they activate tons of muscle fibers due to the explosive way you’ll be moving while doing them.

I think the best way to utilize conditioning is to do it separately from your main workouts. I’ve had tons of success doing conditioning this way. I’ve talked about the conditioning workouts that have worked for me in previous posts.Explosive Fat Burning Workouts .

Sample Workout

Below is one of the workouts I do that utilize these training principles.

Warm-up

Forward Bounds: 2 sets of 6 with one minute rest in between sets

Deadlifts: 10 sets of 1 using 85% of my max. 1 minute rest in between sets

Weighted Chinups: 4 sets of 3 with 55 pounds. You can adjust the weight based on your strength level. 1 minute rest in between sets.

Jump Rope: I usually finish this workout with jump roping for 5-7 minutes. There’s no rest during

Closing Thoughts: By following the formula in this article , I’m confident that you’ll develop a body you’ll be proud of. One that looks good in the mirror and performs in real life. At some point in my fitness journey I’ve utilized some or all of these principles. Doing this has allowed me to easily transition from one goal to another. I hope this article helps you on your journey!

Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/floris-oosterveld/35562172343/”>Floris M. Oosterveld</a> on <a href=”https://bestrunningshoes.com/”>Best Running</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”&gt; CC BY</a>

Get an Awesome Body With Kettlebell Swings

This article is about how kettlebell swings will transform your body.

If Kettlebell Swings are the only movement you do for the rest of your life, you’d have a functional and attractive body. I’ve heard stories of people losing several pounds and dropping layers of fat just by doing 10-20 minutes of Kettlebell Swings per day. The kettlebell swing was a key movement in Tim Ferris’ book the 4 Hour Body. It’s also held in high regard by prominent strength coaches like Dan John and Bret Contreras.

As you know I’m a big supporter of sprints  Sprints, Sprints, and more Sprints. Unfortunately, some people aren’t well suited to perform sprints whether it’s due to injury, problems, or other reasons. Kettlebell Swings provide the same benefits as sprints minus the risk of hamstring pulls or joint strain. In fact, when I had a knee injury four years ago, I relied on Kettlebell Swings as my form of cardio. The Kettlebell swings actually contributed to my recovery due to the work it did on my posterior chain. They allow me to get a great cardio workout during the winter.

Kettlebell Swings and Fat Loss:

The kettlebell swings are so effective for fat loss because they work every muscle in your body. From the posterior chain muscles like glutes and hamstrings to the upper back and shoulder, the kettlebell swing is the total package. To reap the fat loss benefits of kettlebell swings, it’s best to do a high volume. You can also use kettlebell swings as a super-set with other exercises.

Kettlebell Swings and Performance:

Fat loss benefits aren’t the only benefits of swings. Since the posterior chain ( the backside of your body from upper back to calves) are critical to sprinting and jumping, kettlebell swings can make you a better athlete. By strengthening these muscles, you’ll also improve in various lifts especially the deadlift. The kettlebell swing is such a major complement to the deadlift for a number of reasons. The kettlebell swing is a hinge movement just like the deadlift. The kettlebell swing strengthens the same muscles that are highly utilized in the deadlift. The kettlebell swing teaches you how to move your hips in an explosive manner. Explosive hips will allow you to have a more fluid motion on your deadlifts. The kettlebell swing will strengthen your grip due to you having to hold the weight for several reps while still moving at explosively. Your core will get a good workout too because you have to stabilize your spine throughout the whole movement.

Kettlebell Swing Workouts:

I’m usually on and off with my usage of kettlebell swings but I plan on making a conscious effort use them at least once per week. There’s one protocol that has worked for me. I learned it on t-nation.com. The protocol involves doing 20 swings followed by a plank in which you’ll do ten deep belly breaths. Then you keep repeating this til you do at least 100 swings. There’s no rest in between.

Another protocol that I want to incorporate takes 5 minutes. In this protocol, you’ll do as many swings as you can for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds on rest. You repeat this sequence til the five minutes are up. I like this protocol because it holds you accountable. You can’t just settle for a certain number of reps. By being timed, you’re challenged to get up as much as possible, making the workout more intense. I plan on going back and forth between this protocol and the one I learned on t-nation.com to keep my body guessing.

 How To Do Kettlebell Swings:

The first thing I’ll tell you is that the kettlebell swing is not a squat.

  1. Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder width. There will be a kettlebell in between your legs.
  2. Pick up the kettlebell and grip it tightly with both hands. Your palms should be facing your body.
  3. Lean forward while maintaining a neutral spine. Slightly bend your knees and hips.
  4. Your forearms should be in contact with your inner thigh in the bottom position.
  5. Drive your hips forward when pushing the kettlebell forward. All your momentum should be from your hips and hamstrings. Your knees and hips should be straight at the top position and the kettlebell should be at shoulder height.
  6. Keep your arms straight and your core braced throughout the movement.

There are countless videos on YouTube if you want a more visual instruction.

Bonus: If you want to take the kettlebell swing to another level, do a partner assisted kettlebell swing. This variation makes the move a lot more difficult. The way it works is when you’re at the top position, your partner will push the kettlebell down. The challenge comes from taking the momentum of the downward swing and quickly moving the kettlebell back up. The partner assisted kettlebell swing will give you a significant boost in athleticism. Craig Marker of StrongFirst states that the partner assisted kettlebell swing can provided similar benefits as the depth jump. If you don’t have a partner, make a conscious effort to make the eccentric portion of the swing as explosive as fast as possible.

Source Link: https://www.strongfirst.com/get-benefit-depth-jumps-without-jumping/

If you want a lean muscular physique in addition to greater athletic performance, add the kettlebell swing to your routine. The swing will make you look good and feel good. Always remember that it’s important to have good form.

 

Squat Replacement

The barbell back squat is known as the king of leg exercises. It’s one of my favorite movements to do.The problem is not everyone can squat or wants to squat for a number of reasons including fear or injuries. I always recommend having  the back squat or front squat in your arsenal. One alternative to these movements is the single-leg Bulgarian split squat. This exercise has helped me tremendously over the years. It helped me recover from a knee injury because it strengthens the VMO muscle that stabilizes your patella tendon. This also means it’s a good exercise for injury prevention. Unlike the leg press and leg extension, the split squat engages many muscles. You’ll feel your glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors when doing split squats. It also engages your core so you can balance on one leg.Split squats have also helped me improve my squats due to the leg work.

Unlike the front and back squats, split squats can give your legs a heavy workout without stressing the spine. I still love doing back squats and would like to do front squats eventually but split squats have their benefits as well. Split squats can be used as an accessory exercise or as the main lift if you want to go heavy. You’ll be surprised how much weight you can push with your one leg.

Split squats are also great for athletes since most sports movements involve using one leg at a time. The stronger you are, the greater your athletic potential. Pushing off with one leg mimics the motion of sprinting and jumping off one leg. The Bulgarian Split Squat will also train your balance, which is important in keeping your body injury free when playing a sport.The movement is very similar to a lunge. The main difference is that your back leg is resting on a bench with the front of your ankle touching the bench. Some people prefer to do it with the front of their toes touching the bench. With your one leg that’s touching the floor, move down like you would do for a lunge. Once your front leg makes a 90 degree angle, push back up. I recommend practicing with your body weight so you can get comfortable with the movement.

I’m a big supporter of more bang for your buck exercises and the Bulgarian split squats passes the test. It builds stability and balance in your legs to prevent injuries as well as recover from injuries. It builds leg strength and muscle that can help with big lifts like squats and deadlifts. Split squats also great for helping athletic performance. I promise you won’t regret adding split squats to your arsenal.

 

Photo by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet on TrendHype / CC BY

CNS Primers To Lift Big Weights!

Strength is a function of the nervous system. The better your nervous system is firing, the better you’ll perform in big lifts. In between my warm-ups and main lifts I enjoy doing plyometrics to get my nervous system firing. I have various plyometric moves depending on which lift I do.

Sometimes you’re feeling sluggish and unmotivated before heading into a workout. Performing some plyometric movements will quickly ignite the inner fire necessary to dominate those weights and feel like an animal.

In case you don’t know what they are, plyometrics are exercises in which your body exerts force with the goal of increasing power. Another reason I like plyometrics before doing my big lifts is due to the muscular power activation. The faster you can move the weight in safe manner, the less likely you’ll get stuck mid lift. Power is a combination of strength and speed. Plyometrics are often associated with jump training but they can be used various ways. Sprints are an example of plyometric exercises. Most commercial gyms don’t have enough space for you to perform sprints, especially during the busy hours. I’m not a big fan of treadmill sprints but I do have selective movements for various compound lifts.

Deadlifts and Bounding: Bounding is my favorite way to prime myself for deadlifts. As a plyometric movement bounding awakens your nervous system to prepare for big lifts. Bounding and deadlifts complement each other since they both involve horizontal movement of your hips. When bounding, begin in an athletic stance. Then jump forward as far you can. Once you get good at this movement, you can increase the plyometric element of the bounds by immediately jumping forward after landing from a bound. I typically do two sets of bounds for 30 yards per set.

Squats and Squat Jumps: The squat jump is as simple as it sounds. Begin at the bottom position of a squat and jump as high as you can. Once you land, jump immediately. This teaches your body to exert vertical force with your legs like you would do when squatting. I do three sets of five jumps.

Bench press and Plyo Push-ups: Plyo push-ups help with your pushing power. I like to place my hands on a gym mat and begin in push-up position. As you lower your body like you’d do with doing push-ups, push your body up forcefully and get your hands off the ground. This is like a clap push-up without the clapping. I usually do this on a gym mat to reduce the force on my wrists.

Bonus for Squats and Deadlifts: The ultimate nervous system primer is the depth jump. Depth jumps are perfect for squats and deadlifts because they utilize all your lower body muscles. They also awaken your nervous system like nothing else. First stand on a box or a bench. Step off the bench and the moment you land, jump as high as you can. As you become more proficient with the movement, you can increase  The move looks simple but it’s very strenuous on your body. To prevent injury, make sure you’re able to squat at least 1.5 times your body weight. Also, practice proper landing by doing depth drops. Depth drops are when you step off a box and just land. You should also do them on soft floors like those of a studio room.Like all plyometric movements, keep volume low. I usually do three sets of three or four. Before doing depth jumps, I usually do one set of squat jumps or broad jumps, depending if I’m doing squats or deadlifts that day.

Bonus: Adding Plyometrics to your workout routine will make you a better athlete.

Photo via VisualHunt.com

Sprints, Sprints, and more Sprints

Faster than a speeding bullet! Was that Superman? No that’s you in the middle of a sprint workout. Weightlifting is the only form of exercise that can compare to sprints in terms of body transformation. The way it makes me feel is phenomenal. There are many benefits like increase in testosterone, better nutrient partitioning, and an endorphin boost.The freedom you feel when you’re running at full speed in open space is almost unrivaled. Sprinting can transform your body.

Have you ever seen a fat sprinter? Sprinting is arguably the best fat loss exercise on the planet. You’re burning fat while sprinting and hours after you’re done. Sprinting will develop your leg muscles as well.Sprinting is also great for sports performance. Speed kills in sports and there’s various sprinting drills depending on your sport.

Here’s a list of the Sprinting protocols I’ve used:

Hill Repeats for fat-loss: Find a steep hill and do 3 sets of 7 hill sprints with 1 minute rest in between. Depending on your conditioning levels you can start at 5 repetitions or go all the way up to 10 repetitions per set.

35 Yard Sprints for power development:One set of twelve repetitions of a 35 meter sprint. After each repetition you’ll rest for 10 seconds. It’s a good workout when you’re in a time crunch. I’ve noticed an improvement in my deadlift power when I’ve incorporated this protocol in my routine.

100 meter sprint for total body transfromation: Do a 100 meter sprint and walk back to the starting spot. Once you get back, repeat the sprint. Keep repeating til you do ten sprints.

400-300-200-100 : This protocol involves doing a sequence of sprints for different distances. First, you’ll do a 400 meter sprint followed by 4 minutes of rest. Then it’ll be a 300 meter sprint with 3 minutes of rest. Followed by a 200 minute sprint with 2 minutes of rest. You’ll finally finish with a 100 meter sprint. This protocol will have you gasping for air like nothing else.

Like any form of exercise make sure you’re physically ready before doing sprints. If you’re not used to sprinting, I’d reccomend doing hill repeats first as they’re the safest form of sprints because you’re not moving at high speed. This will help you work on your sprinting form and develop sprinting muscles like the hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

Go Sprint and reap the benefits!