Your posterior chain is the group of muscles made up of your lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Typical posterior chain exercises include any deadlift variation, such as conventional, trap bar, sumo and snatch-grip deadlifts, along with body-weight movements like glute bridge raises and hip thrusts. There are also machine exercises that target these muscles, such as standing and lying leg curl machines or the glute kickback machine. Posterior chain exercises not only build muscle and strength but also aid with sports performance, health and posture, too.
The opposite muscles to your posterior chain are those of the anterior chain, specifically your quadriceps and hip flexors. Spend all of your time working on your anterior chain, and your glutes and hamstrings have to fend for themselves, according to trainer Trent Lootens of Bodybuilding.com, so it's vital you balance your posterior and anterior workouts. When performing explosive exercises such as jumping, both chains have a role to play and an inferior posterior chain will have a negative impact on your power and jump height.
Stronger glutes and hamstrings prevent knee injuries, according to corrective exercise specialist Mike Robertson. Strong quads coupled with weak glutes and hamstrings puts stress on the medial structures in your knees, which puts you at a far higher risk of anterior cruciate ligament tears. Dedicated posterior chain activation and strengthening is crucial in preventing this, particularly for women, who are already at a higher risk of knee injuries, adds Robertson.
The posterior chain muscles play a vital role in transferring force from the ground to your upper body. A weak posterior chain means your abdominals and lower-back pick up the strain, which leads to an anterior pelvic tilt, claims muscle imbalance specialist Dr. Vladimir Janda. When your hips don't function correctly, as is the case in this position, it puts excessive stress on your lower-spine, which will lead to microtraumatic tissue damage. Keep your posterior chain strong to avoid this.
Strength and Power
Many athletic and sporting movements such as jumping forward, backward or side to side, sprinting, leaping and even decelerating rely greatly on the posterior chain. The posterior chain is a major weakness for many athletes, particularly high school athletes, notes strength coach Joe Meglio. Neglecting exercises like the deadlift, kettlebell swing and back extension is a surefire way to limit your performance on the field.