Fitness Trail: Your lower body posterior chain
The Fitness Trail
While there are a plethora of excellent lower body exercises that may be included in a well-designed total body exercise program, the three lower body posterior chain exercises featured this week concentrate on the posterior muscles as these muscles (i.e. gluteus maximus/hamstrings/gastrocnemius and soleus) often take a “back seat” to the anterior quadriceps/hip flexor muscles. We must train our anterior and lateral lower body chain muscles as well to create balance; however, the anterior muscles, such as the quadriceps are often over used and over-trained leading to additional anterior/posterior lower body imbalances.
Therefore, consider integrating these three exercises into your exercise regimen and begin to experience a more balanced, stronger and functional lower body. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
-Perform two-three sets of 8-12 repetitions of each of these exercises, in sequence, on two/three non-consecutive days/week.
-Supine Hip Extensions – leg on the heavy bench – d/b on hips – lying supine on the floor with the bench up against your buttocks and one heel placed on top, the other leg extended toward the ceiling and stationary over the hips, engaging the gluteus maximus and hamstrings, press the hips toward the ceiling and then lower back down without touching the floor. Then, repeat with the other heel on top and the other leg extended. *Trains the gluteus maximus/hamstrings and core. **If too difficult with one heel on top, you may perform with both.
-Straight Leg Dead Lifts – choose a set of heavy d/b and place the d/b in front of your feet on the floor. Standing, with the legs approximately shoulder distance apart, hinge from the hips and pick up the d/b slightly off the floor, put back down to the “dead” position and then stand straight up with the d/b. Drive through the heels to effectively engage the hamstrings, keep the knees relaxed and the spine completely straight. You should never round your upper or lower back as this loads the lumbar spine. Think hinge, pick up, put down, pick up and stand up with d/b. Avoid arching back, just stand up erect. *If the distance to the floor is too great for you to safely hinge, pick up/put down/pick up and stand, then place the d/b on an elevated four/eight inch bench reducing the distance covered. **Trains the glutes/hamstrings and nose to toes core.
Standing Hip Extensions – Multi-gym – place the cable/pulley at the lowest setting on the column, place a heel cup or cuff on the carabineer and choose a moderate weight on the weight stack. Place the cup/cuff on the ankle. Stand facing and holding the vertical column (never hold the cable/pulley column) with both hands, hinge approximately 10-15 degrees from the hip joint and maintain an elongated torso, supporting knee relaxed throughout. Engaging the glutes/hamstrings (buttocks and back of upper thigh), extend the hip moving the leg behind the body approximately 20-30 degrees. Keep the knee of the working side flexed enough so that when you press back and return to parallel to the opposite thigh, you do not touch the floor with the working side foot. No movement in the torso (i.e. the only body part moving should be the working side leg at the hip joint). *Trains the glutes/hamstrings and nose to toes core.
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