Posterior Chain Exercises – The Best exercises To Target The Back, Glutes & Legs (exercises for better posture)
When it comes to being moms, we have a lot of things in common- and one of those is postural struggles from pregnancy and postpartum! Posterior chain exercises target the back of the body. They're the best exercises for the back muscles, glutes, and legs.
They are the exercises you need for better posture. And while rocking a weighted strong back workout is an amazing way to target the muscles, there are so many exercises you can do without weights too!
What Are Posterior Chain Exercises?
The posterior chain is jus the anatomical way of saying "back of the body". The front of the body is called the anterior chain.
This means that any exercises that target muscles along the back of the body (your back muscles, the glutes, the back of your legs) are under the umbrella of "posterior chain exercises".
Why Does The Back Of The Body Need To Be Strong?
Training the posterior chain is one of the best things moms can work on. When I write programs for clients, we perform three exercises for the back of the body for every one exercise we do for the front of the body.
The exercises for better posture are the ones you target the back of the body with. These exercises:
- help hold you upright (properly!)
- they help reduce back pain (learn more about the cause of back pain and what to do)
- having a strong posterior chain helps you carry kids easier
- they help you do the things you want to do, easier.
- reduce the risk of injury
Pregnancy aside, we spend so much of our time in a forward position. Think of sitting in cars, on the couch, carrying a kid.
With this lifestyle comes a lot of back pain. In part because we're constantly rounded forward and in part because the back of our bodies is weak.
Throughout pregnancy especially, our center of gravity shifts drastically to accommodate our ever-growing bellies. Couple that with how we compensate to hold our babies, and how we breastfeed and it's no wonder new moms are stiff and sore (though here are some great stretches to alleviate neck and shoulder pain from breastfeeding!)
Unfortunately, post-pregnancy we do a lot of squatting and push-ups. We think that's where we start to "get fit". Those exercises are very much anterior exercises and thus, we make the problem worse without knowing it.
What Are The Exercises For Better Posture?
Any posterior chain exercise will help improve posture. While there's a bit more at play than simply strengthening these muscles (you need hip mobility, a strong anterior core, and flexibility in the hip flexors), this is where you start.
Strengthening the back of the body is the first step in fixing postural issues and making the demands of motherhood easier.
By strengthening the posterior chain you'll help prevent injury, become stronger, and improve your day to day function. Plus, the exercises for better posture (the lower body ones anyways) are the same exercises that help make your booty look good. Who doesn't like that??
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One crucial element of posterior-chain exercises is learning how to hip hinge. This is when you learn to break from your hips (versus your knees) and really use the back of the body. I explain this in more detail in the video below.
Posterior Chain Exercises: The Glute Bridge
I hope you saw this one coming! Glute bridges are one of my favorite exercises for teaching engagement and without engagement, you'll accomplish little.
You cannot progress if you don't understand how to lift your hips into hyperextension with your bum muscles and not your low back. These can be done bodyweight, with dumbbells, barbells, bands or unilaterally. So many options!
I love the glute bridge because it's simple but insanely effective. Training the glute muscles is beyond important for your body to function properly on a day to day basis.
To me, they are also the main muscle group you should be working during pregnancy to support your low back. Learn more about the best hip exercises for pregnancy and postpartum.
Exercise #2 Hip Thrust
Moving on from the glute bridge is the hip thrust. Like the bridge, the hip thrust can be done with just bodyweight, a band, barbell, dumbbell, single leg.. the list goes on.
This posterior chain exercise allows your glutes a bit more range of motion and thus you can hit them slightly harder. Whenever you're hoping to target the glute muscles (which should be always!) I find that mini bands + weights works insanely well.
Exercise #3 Bentover Row
A great exercise to work the upper or mid-back muscles (depending on your grip). Having a strong back will help you stand more upright and remove some of the tension from your low back.
As moms, we often stand with an arch or sway in our low back and carry our babes while leaning into them or with our arms. Learning to use your back muscles takes much of this strain off other areas. This is one of the best exercises you can do for better posture (all rows really).
This position also helps reinforce the hip hinge position which is crucial when targeting the back of body muscles.
Exercise #4 Romanian Deadlift/American Deadlift
Learning how to hip hinge is so so important for daily tasks and to protect your back. Once the movement is learned, there are countless ways to target the hamstrings and glute muscles- to of the best muscles for better posture.
This exercise will not only challenge the back of your legs but your low back as well. And trust me... you use it! Have you ever had to bend over (hinge!) and pick your kid up out of a freaking foam pit?! I have, and I was thankful for my strong ass legs when in a crazy deficit position!
Exercise #5 Inverted Row
TRX rows are one of my favorites. Not only are they a great posterior chain exercise to improve strength but they also require complete stability throughout the rest of your body.
Learning to use your back muscles to pull is a skill everyone should have. TRX strapsmake this super easy. I personally love these straps because it's one of the few pieces of at-home workout equipment in which you can target your back muscles. I also like that it can be adjusted to suit any fitness level- so great for beginners!
Also, learn to hip thrust properly! Bret Contreras is probably the biggest known expert on this subject and he has an awesome demo and explanation of the thrust at the top of this movement here.
Exercise #6 Deadlift
I love deadlifts. Really and truly I think conventional deadlifts kick butt (pun intended!) no matter which variation you chose (read more about why I love them here).
Picking Sh*t up off the floor not only makes you feel like a badass but it is the best of posterior chain exercises! It hits and challenges every muscle in the back of your body and is one of the best ways to boost your overall strength.
However, it is also a scary exercise for most mamas. Deadlifting is really just the exercise for hip hinging. It can be done with bands, dumbbells, or other weights. Don't think you need to lift super heavy to reap the benefits of this exercise- you don't!
But learning to perform it correctly will go a long way towards better posture.
Exercise #7 Pull Aparts
Pull aparts are a great exercise for absolutely everyone. They're simple, require only a red resistance band and they're effective.
The pull-apart helps improve shoulder stability as well as movement. They also help open up the chest while targeting the back so they're an all-around win. I like to use pull aparts in my warm-ups because they're just so effective.
Posterior Chain Exercises: #8 The Pull Through
The cable (or band!) pull through is an amazing back of the body exercise that of course makes use of...thehip hinge! I like this exercise because it's low impact but requires a lot of glute activation.
If you're looking to improve your backside, this is a great option. And strong glutes means better posture means less back pain.
If you’re looking to get strong, reduce back pain, and carry kids easier check out my Stronger Glutes For Busy Moms E-book. This 25-page E-book provides you with everything you need to strengthen your glutes at home. You’ll learn about the fundamentals of glute training, and have access to my progressive glute training program. This e-book will take you through: The difference between these glute workouts and sporadic, glute exercises you stumble upon is that these training programs are progressive. Meaning, they build on one another! You’ll learn: Take the guesswork out of your glute training and follow a plan. Learn the best practices to implement when it comes to strengthening glutes and reap the benefits of less back pain and the ability to carry kids easier. Because being strong isn’t optional when you’re a mom. Grab the Stronger Glutes E-book today. (when you click on the button a new window will open that will take you to securely process payment)
Strengthen & Tone Your Glutes… At Home!
If you’re looking to get strong, reduce back pain, and carry kids easier check out my Stronger Glutes For Busy Moms E-book. This 25-page E-book provides you with everything you need to strengthen your glutes at home.
You’ll learn about the fundamentals of glute training, and have access to my progressive glute training program.
This e-book will take you through:
The difference between these glute workouts and sporadic, glute exercises you stumble upon is that these training programs are progressive. Meaning, they build on one another!
Take the guesswork out of your glute training and follow a plan. Learn the best practices to implement when it comes to strengthening glutes and reap the benefits of less back pain and the ability to carry kids easier.
Because being strong isn’t optional when you’re a mom. Grab the Stronger Glutes E-book today.
(when you click on the button a new window will open that will take you to securely process payment)
Exercise #9 Standing Band Hip Thrust
This exercise is another low impact, posterior chain exercise that targets the glutes really effectively. Personally, it's one of my favorites while pregnant because come the third trimester, glute bridging and hip thrusting are pretty much out (here's an example of how I workout during pregnancy)
Exercise #10 Face Pulls
These beauties work the upper back and shoulders. They definitely don't feel comfortable the first few times you do them (they do require some shoulder mobility) but they're worth it!
They are an awesome posterior chain exercise and most mamas will benefit extremely from pulling more frequently.
Side Note: Eventually you'll want to progress your workouts and some of these back of the body exercises do require workout equipment. For cost-effective and practical options, check out my top four pieces of at-home workout equipment. Save money. Get fit.
Don't forget to pin these awesome posterior chain exercises!
Posterior chain exercises are crucial for busy moms. Having a strong posterior chain helps prevent injuries, makes day to day tasks easier, and helps correct posture. They are the exercises for better posture and when strong, will help us moms, be able to do the things we love- like keep up with kids!