written by Damon Marable
The saying is true: “Out of sight, out of mind”. Quite often when people are working out, they look dead set in the mirror. Nothing wrong with that, as people often like to see what they are working towards. It’s men as well as women alike that are guilty of this fitness vanity. Seeing the shoulders become more defined, seeing the pecs swell, seeing the arms show more definition, etc. All of that is well and good. However, something is often overlooked. The front of the person looks nice and on point, yet the back looks… not as worked on. Again, out of sight… out of mind. That would be the posterior chain. It’s neglected, sort of like the friend that wants to be romantically involved but unfortunately became friend-zoned. If utilized to the full potential of it’s purpose (much like any leg based activity), the posterior chain, will actually complete your physique not only visually, but will help your physique functionally more than you can ever imagine.
What the posterior chain consists of is mainly the back half of your physique, which includes the lower back (erectors), glutes, and hamstrings. However, keep this in mind because it is relative to life and especially in fitness: When something is neglected or rarely used, it starts to become weak. And when one side is weak, yet the other is strong, there is a significant imbalance. When there is an imbalance, things have a greater chance of going wrong and injuries can happen.
When you solely focus on the front half of your physique, be it for training or even your
typical routine day to day activities, your front half will obviously become stronger. The downside is the posterior becomes weakened due to the lack of proficient and proper activity. Muscle groups that should be used in
their prime focus are undermined and overlooked, therefore other synergist muscles are called on to do things that the prime mover SHOULD be doing. Thus creating a lot of problems (back pain anyone?).
Each group has it’s purpose. Strengthening your back helps promote your posture. Strengthening your lower back (along with the rest of your core) helps keep your spine intact by supporting both sides of the vertebral column and extending up from the
lumbar, thoracic and cervical sections of the spine. It also serves side to side rotational movement. The glutes need to be strengthened and activated because they actually play a pivotal role in functionality. They are responsible for force production in the hips, through primarily being responsible for hip extension.
Most people tend to rely on, and drive force, through their knees. Which is the worst thing you can do. Doing so grinds your knees together and is responsible for a lot of ACL injuries.
Driving the force through the hips requires activating and driving force production through the glutes for proper hip extension and to prevent a bad chain effect. See how the spine and knee injuries can be prevented from proper posterior chain activation? Hamstrings aid in knee flexion and hip extension, and also aid in transferring power between the hips and the knee joints. Strengthening them properly helps aid the posterior chain as a whole.
Not only will it visually make you look complete overall, but the inner workings will have a very functional effect for your body for a long time to come. Especially if you take care of your body the way that it is intended to be.