Fitness Trail: Upper body blast for the posterior chain |

Fitness Trail: Upper body blast for the posterior chain

Jackie Wright
Fitness Trail

The posterior chain muscles of the upper body are critical postural muscles. Often, clients will train their anterior chain muscles of the upper body at the expense of the posterior chain muscles.

Because our daily living activities require a great deal of anterior sagittal plane movement patterns, the anterior chain muscles of the upper body can overpower the posterior chain muscles, leading to significant imbalances between the anterior and posterior musculature.

To counter these imbalances, try adding the following three posterior chain upper body exercises to your program. There are dozens of exercises possible; this is a small sample. Prior to beginning any exercise program, consult your physician.

Perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise on 2-3 non-consecutive days of the week. Choose an external load that will take you to momentary muscle failure in the final two repetitions.

Bilateral Rear Flye Cross Overs (Matrix) — Place the cable or pulley at your shoulder height on both columns. Do not place any attachments on the carabineers. Place a light or moderate increment of weight on the weight stack. Stand facing the center of the Matrix, carefully hold the left cable right above the carabineer at the “ball” with the right hand and the right cable right above the carabineer with the left hand, which crosses the cables.

Stagger the legs front to back, keeping the shoulders, hips, knees and toes facing the same direction. Engaging the rear deltoids (back of shoulder), and trapezius (middle back), pull the arms back without moving at the elbow joint, “cracking the egg” between the shoulder blades and then return to the beginning position with the arms parallel to the shoulders. This exercise trains the rear deltoids, trapezius and nose to toes core.

Bent Over Unilateral Cable Row (Matrix) — Position the cable or pulley at the lowest setting on the column and place a handle in that carabineer. Standing facing the cable with the left foot on top of a BOSU or step, holding the handle in the right hand, right foot on the floor with a relaxed knee joint, hinge from the hips, keeping the torso completely extended and the shoulders, hips, knees and toes all facing the same direction.

Extend the right arm out and down until suspended on a diagonal line of pull from the pulley. Then engaging the wide part of the back (the lats), draw the arm back and up until the upper arm is parallel to the floor, arm pit closed. Lower back down with control until the elbow is extended. Repeat on the opposite side. This trains the lats, deltoids, biceps and nose to toes core.

Seated Rows (Hoist with E/Z curl bar) — Place the curl bar in the carbineer at the seated row station and set the weight at a moderate weight on the stack. This exercise trains the trapezius, not the lats.

Keep your feet on the pad, holding the curl bar at the curve in the bar. Move back far enough so that YOUR arms are completely extended and knees are relaxed. Engaging the trapezius, row the arms back, keeping the forearms at shoulder height and the underside of the arms up, as though you are sliding the arms along the top of a shelf.

Then return to the beginning position. Never lean back. Always control the cable OR pulley both directions. This trains the trapezius, deltoids, biceps and nose to toes core.

Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Mountain Life Fitness in Granby. She may be reached at her website at and her email at

Jackie Wright
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