Posterior Focused Legs

Posterior Focused Legs

Training Notes

A: Utilize this movement to get your glutes firing and contracting hard. Your off hand should be used to stabilize. Think about subtle rotation around the grounded hip. The hinge should be compact and short. Avoid rotating through the low back.

B: Aim to load these up. Make sure to get full hip extension on every rep and pause at the top to control the load. Perform the concentric explosively. Full rest between sets.

C: Try to perform these on a Smith Machine. Aim to keep the tension in your glutes and leverage the modality to reduce rep variance. Full rest between sets.

D1: These can be done on a 45º leg press or a seated horizontal press. Keep your foot placement higher on the platform to encourage more hip flexion bias compared to knee flexion. Go immediately into D2.

D2: Hold DBs in each hand but perform these one leg at a time. Focus on slow and stable reps. Perform a set with the same leg for D1 and D2 before switching.

E1: Use apparatus for these. Make sure to keep hips fully extended and only move through knee flexion/extension. Adhere to tempo and pause in full extension for a count as well. Hold load against chest if you can do these easily or add band assistance if you can't get into rep range with perfect form. Take the last set to failure. No rest before E2.

E2: Try to perform these on a machine. Note the tempo. Work on really exaggerating the stretch. Take the last set to failure.


Goals of this session

We are going to work on creating an overloading stimulus for the backside of the legs while minimizing the recruitment of the quads. This will be achieved via prioritization of glute and hamstring work predominantly while attempting to manage for axial loading (stress on the spine). Though this is the primary aim, do note that the quads are still going to receive work and volume with D1 and D2 that will be somewhat unavoidable.

Warm-up recommendations

-5-10 minutes of steady state cardio such as incline walking, elliptical, or recumbent biking

-Soft tissue manipulation in the form of 3-5 min of light foam rolling the quads, adductors, calves, hamstrings and mid-back. More specific work can be done using a small lacrosse ball (or something similar) and working through bound up tissue in the deep glutes (such as the piriformis) and soles of the feet.

-Specific mobility with Band Cha-Chas (using upper body to brace), Cat-Cows and Alternating Cossack Squats.


Common exercise modifications

Single Leg Braced DB RDLs- Single Leg DB RDLs (no rotation), B Stance DB RDLs, Single Leg Low Cable RDLs, Single Leg 45º Hyperextensions, B Stance Good Mornings, Single Leg Cable Glute Kickbacks

Barbell Hip Thrusts- Machine Hip Thrusts, Smith Hip Thrusts, Barbell Glute Bridges, Barbell Kas Hip Thrusts, Deadstop Barbell Hip Thrusts, B Stance Barbell Hip Thrusts

Machine RDLs- Belt Squat RDLs, Ground-Base Hammer RDLs (plate-loaded machine), DB RDLs, Barbell RDLs, Trap Bar RDLs, Smith Machine Good Mornings

Single Leg Glute Focused Leg Press- Front Foot Elevated Smith Machine Split Squats, Hatfield Bulgarian Split Squats, Assisted High Step Ups

DB Walking Lunges- Barbell Reverse Lunges, DB Reverse Lunges, DB Split Squats, Low Cable Front Foot Elevated Split Squats

Glute/Ham Raises- Lying Hamstring Curls, Nordic Hamstring Curls, Single Leg Standing Hamstring Curls, Inverse Hamstring Curl
Donkey Calf Raises- Belt Squat Donkey Calf Raises, Smith Machine Donkey Calf Raises, Seated Leg Press Calf Raises


Common program modifications

Advanced trainees- Increase volume of B, E1 and E2 by adding a working set. Increase intensity by pushing A to 2RIR, push B to 1RIR then take the last set to failure, sets of C should be to 2RIR, D1 and D2 should be taken to 1RIR, and take each set of E1 and E2 to failure. 

Intermediate trainees- Keep the program as is

Beginner trainees- Change A to Single Leg RDLs with just bodyweight keeping the hips even. B should be 3 sets and 3RIR on all sets. C should be DB RDLs and 4RIR. Remove D1 and switch D2 to DB Split Squats instead. Switch E1 to Lying Hamstring Curls at 2x10-15 (3RIR) and change E2 to just bodyweight reps to 3RIR.

Male trainees- Longer rest between sets and more feeders before working sets on B and C. Also C can be switched to a Hip Dominant Squat pattern if desired. Volume may need to be decreased depending on strength level and recovery capacity (stronger trainees may need less working sets).

Female trainees- Shorter rest between working sets and less feeders/warmup sets will generally be needed. Add a set to C and potentially D1 and D2. E2 can be exchanged out for a Hip Abduction variation if desired. Volume may need to be increased depending on strength level and recovery capacity (better conditioned trainees may need more working sets).


Common injury modifications

Low Back- Spend a little more time warming up by performing alternating birddogs followed by RKC planks to get the glutes firing hard. You may need to adjust A to a B Stance DB RDL or just avoid the rotational component by keeping the hips square. B can be modified to Kas Hip Thrusts to limit the ROM of the reps. C can be switched to a hyperextension variation as needed if load-bearing is uncomfortable in the RDL. E1 can be shifted to an open-chain hamstring curl variation that provides support for the hips/low back such as a lying leg curl. 

Knees- Due to the posterior focus of the training day, anterior knee issues should be mitigated somewhat but if D1 or D2 are bothersome, moving to a static split squat variation should do the trick. There is also a chance that E1 causes some issues behind the knee due to the high degree of strain/stress in extension, and in this case, it would be a better idea to switch to a machine or banded variation of leg curl. 

Ankles- There could be subtle issues with D2 or E1 but those will be less common than potential posterior tightness (Achilles tendon) and mobility restrictions that might present themselves in E2. In this case, switching to a standing or seated calf raise should help, but if the issue is prevalent enough, regress to banded ankle mobility work to strengthen in all planes of movement.

Groin/Adductor Strain- There could be some issues that pop up with hip extension (B) and/or deep, unilateral hip flexion (D1 and D2). In these cases, it's almost always the best case to move into a range of motion that isn't problematic but slowing the tempo down and lowering the intensity can both be a great way of circumventing the issues. For this specific problem, you'll want to continue to get movement and blood flow into the afflicted tissue but without causing any additional strain. Banded adductions and very light machine adductions can do wonders if done cautiously.


Additional notes

Over time with this training day, the goal should be to progress in volume load on B and C while leveraging the supporting movements the provide "filler" volume and specific tension through novel patterns/planes. Starting out a bit lighter and more conservative on these main movements will allow for relatively linear load progressions for weeks as long as fatigue is managed properly and intensity/load are tapered up intentionally. It should also be noted that we can be a bit more aggressive with intensity increases with a movement like hip thrusts versus RDLs due to the risk:reward tradeoff that comes from pushing closer to failure and the injury implications of technical failure on each movement. 

A is what I would call an advanced movement pattern because it is combining multiple planes of movement and relying heavily on assumed coordination to perform it correctly. Trainees who are lacking proprioceptive awareness especially in controlling hips and spinal positioning should regress this specific variation. The goal here is mostly to provide the glutes with a primer before heavier work so this can be replaced pretty easily. D1, D2, E1, and E2 are all going to be movements that can be progressed through increasing intensity OR aiming for improved execution or perception of tension (mind-muscle connection) rather than chasing load for weeks on end. These variations are also much more flexible and can be subbed in and out for like movements without compromising the whole. 

Though this training day seems to be geared more towards women due to the heavy bias on glute work, it can also be slotted in easily to any training program that is overloaded on anterior leg work and deficient on posterior. A lot of trainees (both male and female) tend to be quad dominant comparatively and there is theoretically zero down side to having stronger hamstrings and glutes no matter what the circumstance. Though I wouldn't consider this to be a primary leg day for most, it can function extremely well as a supplemental lower body session to bring up deficient muscle groups, prioritize hip power/strength and give the knees a break from the loaded knee flexion that accompanies direct quad work.

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