Posterior Chain and Importance of Odd Object Training
by Marcus Andersen
The Posterior Chain refers to the muscles from the top of your back down to the back of your legs (posterior delts, traps, spinal erectors, glutes, hamstrings, and calves). Since we can’t see these muscles (unless we take pictures where we look like an Instagram “model”) we often don’t think of them as important as abs, quads, and pecs since we can’t show them off as easily. But they are just as if not more important than those “showy” muscles.
The posterior chain muscles contribute to everything we do from jumping, pushing, pulling, and running to squatting, deadlifting and Olympic weightlifting. They also help build stability in your knees, hips, and spine. Since the majority of people are sitting when they work, it is important we train these muscles constantly to ensure we are not losing strength or posture, and to keep our bodies moving pain free and efficiently in the gym.
The stronger our posterior chain is the stronger our hip extension will be which leads to increased power and explosiveness. Everything we do in CrossFit centers around power generated to either move heavy loads or complete a set amount of work as fast as we can. The more power we can generate with our hips the more PR’s we can set on lifts and metcons.
Since we are all currently on lockdown, there is no better time to start focusing on movements to build this strength. By spending time working odd object and accessory lifts, we will be strengthening the smaller muscles that are often forgotten about but are crucial in all lifts and movements. If we use the clean as an example, the stronger our posterior chain is, the better our posture will be during the first pull, allowing us to hit the proper position for the second pull so we can fully extend our hips before changing direction and pulling ourselves under the bar. Another example we can use is box jumps. Since our posterior chain is made of mostly fast twitch muscles, the more we work on our posterior chain the more explosive we can be on box jumps (opening and closing of hips) whether we test them for height or see them in a metcon. A strong posterior chain will allow us to jump higher or finally get comfortable with “rebounding” the movement so you can complete them faster and efficiently. The clean and box jumps are just a few examples of where increased posterior chain strength will pay dividends.
While the majority of the movements can be done with a barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell, it is important to add in odd objects while training. These can include sandbags, buckets with rocks, dog food bags, big wood logs, or anything that is weird to hold and makes it challenging! This should be easier since we are all at home currently and probably have random things we can pick up and move. Training with odd objects adds some variety and helps translate to the GPP model of CrossFit – the idea being to be prepared to complete anything that is thrown our way. This does not mean I am telling you to sub out a bar for a bag of dog food for thrusters. Instead, pick up that bag of dog food and walk 400m with it, or see how long you can hold it without dropping it. Then, do it again the following and beat your time. Your neighbors will probably look at you with a weird face and wonder what the hell you are doing, but they will thank you when you buddy carry them during the Zombie Apocalypse.
Below are some movements (and some accompanying videos) that I have included in our comp team program to help build this strength. If you have any questions, or if you’d like a micro-program to help you, specifically, please reach out to me directly at email@example.com.
Romanian Deadlift (KB, DBs, or barbell)
Squat variations (back, front, overhead)
Band Face Pull
Single Arm Row
Hip & Back Extensions
Glute Ham Raises
Reverse or Step-through Lunges
Bulgarian Split Squats
Odd Object Movements:
5 Rounds for Time:
80’ Farmers Carry
80’ Odd-Object/Buddy Carry
80’ Sled Push (Use wheelbarrow, wagon, anything you can load and push)
As Many Rounds as Possible in 8 Minutes:
6 Sandbag Cleans (Use odd object to clean to shoulder height)
8 Burpees over Sandbag/Odd-Object
7 Rounds, each for Time:
6 Step-through lunges Right Leg (95/65)
6 Step-through lunges Left Leg (95/65)
Rest 1:00 b/w