In order to improve performance and avoid injury in our field athletes, it’s essential to select appropriate warmup exercises for the posterior chain prior.
The posterior chain is the workhorse of all sporting activity. Comprised of the biceps femoris, gluteus maximus, erector spinae muscle group, etc. these muscles are the primary hip extensors and knee flexors responsible for everything from sprinting to jumping. The below videos provide the four active warmup exercises we use with our large teams prior to our sprint sessions.
Each movement below can be replicated fairly quickly, and requires no specialized equipment. As always when working with large groups, simplicity is key. Again, we tend to focus on ensuring we’re actively as opposed to passively warming up the muscles of the posterior chain. Keeping things active will provide improvements in mobility without dampening performance.
Warmup Exercises for the Posterior Chain
1. Hamstring Active/Iso
- Targets the hamstrings, quadriceps, and erectors
- Lay on your back, and bring up one of your legs straight in the air. Keep your other leg flat against the floor.
- Clasps your hands behind the thigh, and alternate between extension and flexion
- Focus on firm extension of the knee (contraction of the quad)
- Perform 8 reps per leg
2. Hip Switch
- Targets the hip flexors, hip abductors and adductors
- Start in a 90/90 stretch
- Try to bring your chest to your knee and hold it for about two seconds.
- Alternate between your right and left leg, focusing on transitioning from side to side without the use of the hands.
- Alternate and do 4 reps per side.
- Feel free to use your hands for additional help and balance if necessary.
3. Bending Eagles
- Targets the erectors, hip abductors
- Lay on your back, bend the knee at 90 degrees.
- Take a deep breath in.
- Release your breath and and use the opposite hand to fully rotate the hip while keeping the shoulders glued to the floor. Hold for a count of two on each side.
- Perform 3-5 repetitions per side.
4. Lateral Lunge
- Targets the groin and hip flexors
- Get in the traditional lunge position with one knee on the ground.
- Kick your lead leg out to a 45 degree angle.
- Keep your hips square, and slowly go toward your lead leg.
- Keep your front foot flat and the hips squarely facing forward.
- Perform 5 controlled lunges per leg, focusing on meeting the maximal range of motion possible, not pushing past it.
These four warmup exercises for the posterior chain provide outstanding return on time invested. Working with large groups at the collegiate and high school level, time and space are your greatest constraints. Selecting exercises that can be easily understood, and performed quickly with minimal equipment or setup time should be prioritized in your active warm up.
If you are looking for ways to develop and strengthen the posterior chain, this article walks through a key exercise that will help you and your athletes.
The 2009 Strength and Conditioning Professional of the Year, Jeff is in his 16th year at Winona State University as Strength and Conditioning/ Director of Fitness. He is responsible for 10 Division II teams. Previously he was the head strength and conditioning coach for Olympic sports at Iowa State University, an assistant at the University of Memphis, and an assistant at the US Olympic training center in Colorado. Reinardy was part of two men’s basketball national championships in three appearances, numerous conference championships, and several individual national champions at both the Division I and II levels. He also holds club coach and sports performance certifications through USA Weightlifting, and is the former ADFPA American Squat record holder in the 148 weight class and four Minnesota state ADFPA championships.