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What is the Posterior Chain?

Joe Kenn | Vice President of Performance Education

There are many key features to a successful strength training program. The most important pieces may vary from coach to coach, but most will tell you posterior chain training is a key to protecting and developing a robust athlete. So, what is the posterior chain and how do you prescribe it?

When coaches hear the term posterior chain, most immediately think of the area of the body that includes the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back (erectors). Some may also include the calves. Training this area of the body is a major attributing factor for protecting the athlete from common soft tissue injuries that occur in the lower body, specifically hamstring and low back muscle pulls.

We rarely hear coaches talk about posterior chain training for the upper body. A lot of coaches will train movements specifically for the posterior shoulder and neck individually, but not refer to this as posterior chain training. I believe the posterior chain for the upper body should include the aforementioned 2 regions of the body above as well as direct trapezius training. Training the posterior chain for upper body can be lumped together as “shield training”, training the muscle groups that protect and support the head. This is a key area of the body to help protect the athlete from head trauma and possible concussions.

Prescribing these mini programs to your program can take several shapes. I prefer to train these areas as part of our pre-activity preparation portion of the session. The reasons are twofold. One, if I deem these areas important to protecting the athlete, and I want to express that importance by doing them early in the session. Two, these mini programs serve as a specific way to help properly prep the body and raise core temperature as we prepare for the major lifts of the session. Early in my career, I trained the chain at the end of sessions and a lot of times athletes would not complete this work. By moving the chain work up front, and emphasizing and educating them on the importance of protecting themselves, there is more buy in and commitment to getting this work accomplished.

Best Success and #wordswin

Coach Kenn


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