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After I realized there was more to lifting than biceps curls and bench press one of the prime focuses of my training the past 30 years has been to make the posterior chain stronger. Strong posterior chain means a strong squat and deadlift. If I had listened to my Father’s training advice more in my youth I would have spent more time focused on training the posterior chain and spent less time training with the easy curl bar. Many called the old man a pioneer in strength training in the NFL and he was way ahead of his time. He trained by himself at home in the off-season and was self-taught. His lessens did not come from a book, but rather trial and error. He was as “old school” as it gets. When pointing out the importance in strengthening the posterior chain he wouldn’t have called it the posterior chain. This is vocabulary that he would have had to have read in a book, and there weren’t a lot of books on strength training in the 60’s and 70’s. Instead he pointed out in a few short phrases: “those are the muscles you need strong, and this is how you do it.” Simple as that!
The actual definition of the posterior chain is a group of muscles located on the back of your body. These muscles include the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, trapezius, calves, and posterior deltoids. Unfortunately, for the athlete that is just beginning strength training, these muscles that are not easily seen in the mirror are frequently neglected.
My Father trained these muscle groups with heavy power rack partial squats and deadlifts, along with some heavy bent-over rows. Obviously my training has always included a high volume of full squats and deadlifts, but I also add in a substantial volume of power rack squats and deadlifts, bent-over rows, seated rows, lat pulldowns, Romanian deadlifts (RDLS), reverse hypers, hip thrusts, and kettlebell swings to really build the posterior chain. To me the benefit of having a strong posterior chain means that I can keep my back in an upright position and allow the hamstrings and glutes to extend the hips in order to lockout heavy deadlifts and finish off those heavy squats. My IPF World Record Deadlifts were forged from a large diet of power rack deadlifts, RDLs, and bent-over rows. The everyday athlete will benefit greatly from having a strong posterior chain. Building strong glutes and hamstrings will help to prevent back injuries, which can result in downtime off of the field, help you to run past your opponent, jump higher, and be more explosive.
Train smart, stay healthy, set your goals high, and make sure to add GNC Pro Performance HMB along with BetaTOR and BetaATP products, available at your local GNC Store, to supplement your strength, energy and recovery needs.
Brad Gillingham, CSCS