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Fitness Healthy Living Personal Trainers

Sharice Lindeland is a junior here at Iowa State studying Pre-physical Therapy. She is also one of our many personal trainers at Recreation Services. She has been a personal trainer for over two years and is ACE certified in personal training. She has worked with nine clients and currently trains with three every week. Sharice will walk us through different moves to focus on the specific muscle group and how to properly do them!

The muscles group we’re focusing on this week is the posterior chain. In this post we will be looking directly at the posterior chain for posture purposes. As students, we sit in class all day and we are hunched over. This puts pressure on our body and creates imbalances that make our bodies function less than ideal. A good posture will help keep bones and joints in correct alignment and decreases the stress and pressure at many of these same places throughout the body. Sharice’s three exercises that she has selected are: Band pull aparts, bird-dog, and wall angels.

This exercise is a great posterior chain movement that works on developing strength and endurance in a functional scapular pattern. Begin by grasping the resistance band between both hands with your arms raised forward at shoulder height.  Pull both hands apart into horizontal abduction (away from the body). Then, return to the starting position and pull one arm down and the other up in a diagonal pattern. Return to the starting position again and switch the diagonals. For more stability, you can stand against a wall with your back completely against the wall. This one exercise effectively combines the action of scapular retraction, upward rotation, and posterior tilt.

Not only is this exercise working the upper body of trapezius in the upward arm movement, but it is also targeting the lower body of the trapezius in the lower arm movement as well. The lower body of the trapezius often gets forgotten about, as we are typically more dominant in our upper to mid trapezius bodies. This is a great drill exercise working on facilitating a more posterior dominant posture and getting out of our typical anterior dominant sitting posture. -Sharice

You start the position on all four of your hands and knees, placing your hands facing forward and stacked/in line with your shoulders. Your knees should be flexed and be in line/stacked under your hips. Engage your core muscles to help stabilize your spine by keeping it in a neutral position (from what we learned in the previous trainer favorites). Keeping your “strong back” lift one arm and the opposite leg simultaneously, make sure you are not rotating at the hips (don’t lift limbs higher than you are able to maintain a neutral spine- at shoulder height for arms and hip height for legs is optimal.) while performing this movement, keep your eye gaze down and slightly in front of you to help maintain the neutral spine. Slowly bring the opposite limbs back into the starting position and repeat with the other limbs, or with the same limbs for the remainder of the set. Your back extensors, specifically your erector spinae, are engaged in this movement, as well as your glutes and abdominal muscles.

I really like how diverse this exercise can be. It’s a great lumbar spine stabilizer for beginner exercisers, but it offers so much versatility (you can be creative with the variations to continue to make the movement challenging) for intermediate and expert exercisers as well. It utilizes a large chunk of our posterior chain muscles by challenging our stability/balance to help improve and develop an erect posture and strong core. -Sharice


To begin this movement, you must first stand against a wall with your head and back pressed completely against the wall. Start with your arms at a 90-degree angle with your hands facing the ceiling and your elbows touching the wall behind you, if you are able to get the palm of your hands to reach the wall behind you then do so comfortably. Start the movement by gliding your elbows up while bringing your hands closer together, continuing to maintain contact with your three stability points. Continue the motion until you feel as though you are in end range (until comfortable, until a stability point begins to lift off the wall, until your elbow lifts, until the palm of your hand lifts, or until you have successfully touched your hands together). Then, bring your arms back down to the starting position. This exercise is another trapezius strengthening exercise, as well as a stretch. As you glide your arms up, you begin to stretch the mid and lower trapezius muscle and as you bring your arms back down you stretch the upper body of the trapezius as well as the neck extensors.

I really like this exercise because despite how effortless this movement pattern may look, it’s a challenging and functional exercise that not only targets the entire trapezius muscle, but it also helps to instill postural awareness throughout the superior posterior kinetic chain as well as help stabilize the shoulder muscles to prevent shoulder rounding and helps to alleviate kyphosis (excessive outward curvature of the spine, causing hunching of the back). -Sharice

The posterior chain is very important, and many people miss out on adding it to their workout. Because we are students we spend a lot of time hunched over in class, at home, and pretty much anywhere you sit. Help your body out and focus on these muscles and you will see a large difference in how to sit and stand. Now that you’ve seen and have three awesome postural exercises I hope that these make a difference in your workouts and your lives.