The Secret to Speed: Build Your Posterior Chain

Building the muscles in your posterior chain is a key to getting faster. Boost your speed with two posterior chain exercises from STACK Expert John C. Mackersie.

Speed at Takeoff

Do you work your legs regularly, yet don't see performance improvements on the field? If so, you probably aren't working your posterior chain.

The posterior chain includes the muscles on the backside of your body. For the sake of this article, we are going to focus solely on the glutes and hamstrings, which extend your hips and flex your knees, respectively.

Why are we so concerned about the glutes and hamstrings? The glutes are the primary workhorse for virtually every sports skill, including sprinting, jumping, throwing a ball and swinging a bat. The hamstrings contribute to sprinting and help decelerate the body when you change direction or land from a jump.

If you fail to work these two critical muscle groups, you will be slow, lack power and risk pulling a muscle—the last things you want as an athlete.

So it's essential that you regularly work these muscles during your workout. A great place to start is with the following mini-routine.

Posterior-Chain Building Mini-Routine

  • The two exercises below focus on extending your hips and flexing your knees. This works your glutes and your hamstrings from both a hip- and a knee-dominant movement, which is critical to help prevent injury.
  • This is a post-exhaustion superset, meaning that you perform a heavy compound lift followed by an isolation exercise that challenges the same muscles.
  • Perform the superset with no rest between sets and two to three minutes between sets.

Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees slightly.
  • Hold a barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width at thigh level with your palms facing your body.
  • Bend at your hips to lower the weight, keeping your back straight.
  • Drag the bar down the front of your legs and continue to push your hips back.
  • Lower until the bar is at mid-shin height, or as far flexibility allows.
  • Forcefully extend your hips to drive up to the starting position.

Sets/Reps: 4x6-8

Coaching Point: Lower the weight over four seconds and explode up.

Dumbbell Leg Curls

  • Adjust a bench so that it's at a 20- to 30-degree decline.
  • Lie on your stomach and hold the top of the bench to stabilize your body. The bench should not be supporting your knees.
  • Have a partner place a lightweight dumbbell between your feet.
  • Bend your knees to curl the dumbbell to your butt.
  • Lower slowly to the starting position.

Sets/Reps: 4x25-30

Coaching Point: Lower the weight over two seconds and explode up.

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