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30-Minute Posterior Chain Workout

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 30-Minute Posterior Chain Workout

Reading Time: 6 minutes 15 seconds

The backside of the body, otherwise known as the posterior chain, is often neglected. Though it plays a major role in a client’s fitness goals. The posterior chain is made up of some of the largest muscle groups in the body. Therefore, having a weak posterior chain leads to imbalances and injuries. Read more to learn how to ensure your posterior chain muscles are strong and active.

Why Focus on Posterior Chain Workouts?

Most clients sit at least 6-8 hours per day. This leads to a more dormant posterior chain and poor posture. The posterior chain refers to the entire backside of the body, which means both upper and lower body muscles are included. 

The longer you sit throughout the day, the tighter your hip flexors become. As this occurs, the glutes lose their strength and become inactive. Tight hip flexors and inactive glutes can be fixed by building a strong posterior chain. 

These workouts don’t necessarily have to be long in duration, but instead strategic in planning. Exercises like the deadlift, kettlebell swing, and glute bridge are just a few effective options to add to your posterior chain exercise roster. Let’s take a closer look at how a posterior chain workout should be executed for optimal results. 

A Better Posterior Chain Workout

This workout will include both upper and lower body exercises. We’ll offer some modifications for each compound exercise. These are alternatives depending on your fitness level. You will need just 30 minutes to complete the entire workout.

The Warm-Up

A proper warm-up helps prepare the body for strenuous activity while also reducing the threat of injury. It also dilates the blood vessels, which ensures the muscles are getting enough oxygen to perform the workout effectively.

#1 Lateral Lunge

To perform the lateral lunge, achieve a wide stance. Make sure your toes are slightly pointed outwards. Begin hinging at your hips or shifting your hips back. Then shift your weight to one side of the body. Keep the pressure on the leg of the side that you lean to. On the opposite side, maintain a straight leg and stretch. Repeat side to side for 1 set of 30 seconds.

#2 Hip Extensions

Achieve an all-fours position on the ground and maintain a flat back. Begin by lifting one leg off the ground. Extend that leg up and back, away from the body. Squeeze your glutes at the end range of the motion and return to the starting position. Avoid rotating at the hips and maintain a strong core. Repeat for 20 repetitions on both legs.

#3 Banded Hip Abduction 

Lie on one side of the body with a mini-resistance band around your ankles. Make sure your legs are stacked on top of one another. Lift the top leg off the leg on the ground. Lift against the resistance of the band. Lower it down slowly and repeat. Perform 15 repetitions on each side.

# 4 Thoracic Spine Rotations 

In a seated position, place a PVC pipe or light barbell behind your back. The bar should rest in between the upper arm and forearm. Rotate the torso side to side as far as your body will allow. Maintain posture while doing so. Repeat for 60 seconds. 

The Workout

#1 Barbell Deadlift

Place your feet under the barbell and bend over to grab the bar. Your grip should be at shoulder width. From here, squat down until your shins touch the bar. Maintain a flat back and begin to stand up with the weight. Once you are fully upright, lower the weight back down with the same form. Perform 3 sets of 6 reps.

Modification: You can also perform the deadlift with two dumbbells. This will help you improve form and technique if necessary. Try this modification if you feel your form is compromised with the barbell. Things to be aware of: shoulders rolling forward, rounded back, and lower back pain during the barbell deadlift.

#2 Kettlebell Swing

Standing over the kettlebell keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down and pick up the kettlebell. Stand up keeping your arms straight and drive your hips forward to propel the kettlebell up and away from the body. The kettlebell should swing to chin level and come back down in between the legs. Be sure to hinge at your hips or shoot your hips back to allow the kettlebell back down. Use the momentum and hip extension to propel it back up. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.

Modification: If you are not proficient with the hip hinge movement try performing bodyweight good mornings. Place your hands behind your head and hinge at your hips. The goal is to send your hips back and away from the body. Keep your legs as straight as possible. It should feel like you are trying to shut a car door with your butt. 

#3 Barbell Bent Over Row

Grab onto a barbell with an overhand grip. Unrack the barbell in a standing position with your hands positioned outside the legs. Next, bend slightly at the knees while leaning over the bar with your upper body. Maintaining a flat back begins by rowing the barbell up towards the chest, pulling your elbows back, and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Perform 3 sets of 8 reps.

Modification: If you are starting for the first time, you can use dumbbells instead of a barbell. The barbell allows for more weight to be used but can place extra stress on the lower back and other muscle groups. To build a muscle mind connection and proper technique try using two dumbbells instead. 

#4 Pull-ups

Stand directly underneath a pull-up bar. Place your hands in an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Begin to pull your body off the ground using your arms and back. Bend at the elbows and pull your shoulder blades down and back. Lower yourself down slowly and repeat. Perform 3 sets of 6 reps.

Modification: If pull-ups are too challenging you can perform negative pull-ups. Assume the same starting position but place a bench underneath your feet. Use the bench to help you jump up to the bar instead of having to pull your bodyweight up. Once at the top of the pull-up hold and slowly lower yourself back down to the bench and repeat. This will help build eccentric strength and lead to you being able to do a regular pull-up. 

#5 Calf Raises

Standing up straight, plantarflex or push through the balls of your feet. While doing so raise your heels off the ground and come up on your toes. Squeeze your calves and lower your heels back down to the ground. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps. 

Modification: In most cases, you will want to make this exercise more challenging. If you need a more challenging calf raise, try adding weight to the exercise with either dumbbells or a barbell. You can also turn your toes outwards or inwards to target the calves at different angles. 

The Cool Down

A proper cool down is a key to maximizing your workout. Stretching should be a part of every cool down. Stretching is more beneficial after the workout than it is before because the muscles are warm and more pliable, which offers the best chance for maintaining and improving flexibility.

#1 Hamstring Stretch

Place your foot up on a bench or box. Keep your leg as straight as possible. Lean forward and reach for the top of your foot. Hold and stretch your hamstring for 30 seconds then repeat on the other leg. 

#2 Glute Stretch

Start in a pushup position and bring one knee up towards your chest. Rest the body down on the ground keeping that leg forward. Lean forward into the leg in front and stretch the glutes. Be sure to keep the back leg straight. Hold for 20 seconds on each side. 

#3 Child’s Pose to Cobra

Start by kneeling on the ground with your feet together and knees hip-width apart. Then lower your body between your knees and reach your arms out overhead. Allow your shoulders to drop down to the ground. Then bring your hips forward to the ground as if you were going to lie flat. Next, keep your palms down beneath your shoulders and fully extended. Hold each stretch for 5 seconds. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Great work! You have completed the posterior chain workout all in 30 minutes!

Knowledge is Power

Are you looking to learn more about how to effectively target the posterior chain? Check out these blogs: 

For more knowledge and to expanding your training business, get certified as a Glute Specialist with ISSA. You’ll gain in-depth knowledge of the anatomy and functions of the glutes and associated muscles and the best ways to activate, strengthen, and grow them. You’ll also help clients understand why stronger glute muscles are about more than just looks. Help them move better, feel better, and remain injury-free for longer.

Become an ISSA Certified Glute Specialist today!

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