One of the most common mistakes people make with their training is working on body parts they can see in front of them – basically muscles which appear from reflection in the mirror. As a result a lot of people suffer with knee, shoulder and lower back issues. Among other factors we can divert some of the blame on to having a weak posterior chain from head to toe. Over powering upper traps against weak lower traps (trap 3), over dominating quads against poorly developed hamstrings/glutes and story begins to unfold. Problems galore!
Below are 3 key areas to focus on in order to develop and sustain a strong functional posterior chain!
1 – Shoulders & Back
Starting from the top we want to focus on removing the emphasis from upper trap development which we see a lot of with heavy shrugs and upright rows. Instead we want to employ exercises like standing cable face pulls and trap 3 raises to isolate this middle area of the back (lower traps). To do this we want lighter weight, very controlled form and isometric (squeezing) contractions to really load the area with stress. Doing so will help stabilise the shoulder joint, avoid excess pressure on the area and improve posture! It’s a great start.
2 – Hamstrings & Glutes
To shift the focus and dynamics of ‘’leg’’ training we want to acknowledge that hamstrings and glutes can no longer be a mere after thought with a few sets of token leg curls and lunges once a week. Let’s start using exercises like glute ham raises, cable pull throughs, Romanian deadlifts, sumo dumbbell deadlifts and lying leg curls – in short, let’s give the backside and rear area of the legs a damn good going over! Doing so will help stabilise the knee joint as well as bullet proof the lower back.
3 – Posture
With two key areas taken care of above the next thing to do is take an active role in ensuring you carry good posture. Think about how you hold yourself, where your shoulders are and focus on walking tall. Also stretch the shoulder and lower back area frequently to aid in joint health and posture.
Doing these things listed frequently should help you avoid common areas many suffer with as a result of poor programming and a lack of focus on the basics. As the saying goes, ‘’you cannot fire a cannon from a canoe.’’ Get strong, front and BACK!