Posterior Chain Workout Plan: Fat Loss & More

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The 4-Hour Body" by Timothy Ferriss. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is a posterior chain exercise and why is it important? What do you do in a posterior chain workout plan?

The posterior chain is a critical part of body recomposition. In The 4-Hour Body, a posterior chain workout plan focusing on the kettlebell swing is used to strengthen your posterior chain.

Keep reading for the posterior chain workout plan using the kettlebell swing from The 4-Hour Body.

Posterior Chain Workout Plan

The only posterior chain exercise in The 4-Hour Body posterior chain workout plan is the Russian kettlebell swing works the posterior chain, which includes your calves, hamstrings, glutes, and back muscles. This exercise is highly effective for fat loss, posture improvement, strength gain, and increased sex appeal. (According to the author, men find women who have a waist-to-hip ratio of 7:10 most attractive because this ratio is associated with fertility, and women find men with a ratio of 8:10 or 9:10 for waist-to-hip most attractive. Kettlebell swings help achieve these ratios by following the posterior chain workout plan.)

  • Example #1: Tracy did kettlebell swings for the posterior chain exercise twice a week for 15-20 minutes and lost over 100 pounds. 
  • Example #2: The author spent only 10-20 minutes a week doing kettlebell swings with a 53-pound kettlebell (along with other exercises) and in six weeks, he’d significantly lowered his body fat percentage and was able to strengthen his posterior chain.

There are four steps to learning the kettlebell swing:

Step #1: Get into position. 

  • Pick up the kettlebell and place your feet half a foot to a foot wider than shoulder-width. 
  • Turn both feet 30 degrees outward. 
  • Keep your shoulders in the locked position, which means pulling your shoulder blades down and back, as if you were trying to put them in your opposite back pockets. This will protect your shoulder from injury. Don’t round your back.

Step #2: Learn the touch-and-go deadlift to strengthen the posterior chain.

  • Put the kettlebell down in between your feet by hinging your hip and sitting back as if you were lowering yourself into a chair. 
  • Bend your ankles as little as possible, aiming to keep your shins perpendicular to the ground. Don’t let your shoulders go in front of your knees. 
  • Pick up the kettlebell (sitting instead of squatting, just like you did when you put it down) and straighten your legs to come to standing. 
  • Sit to put it down and straighten your legs to pick it up, increasing the speed. Eventually, pick it up as soon as it makes contact with the ground. It needs to touch the ground in the same spot, in the middle of your feet, every time.

Step #3: Progress the touch-and-go deadlift.

  • As you do the touch-and-go version, put the kettlebell down behind your feet, so the front of the bell is just behind your heels. 
  • On the pickups, pop your hips forward, imagining squeezing a dime between your butt cheeks. This movement will make the kettlebell swing up a little. 
  • Always touch the kettlebell to the ground in the same place, behind your heels, every time.

Step #4: Do the full swing.

  • Put the kettlebell between your feet as you did in step one. 
  • Pick up the kettlebell and sit back, but swing the kettlebell through your legs rather than touching it to the ground. It should end up behind your legs near your butt. 
  • Repeat to really strengthen the posterior chain.

Choosing Your Kettlebell

Kettlebells come in different weights. In general, men should start the posterior chain workout plan with a 20-24-kg bell and women with a 16-20-kg bell. You should be able to do 20 swings with good form with the weight you choose in the posterior chain workout plan.

Posterior Chain Workout Plan: Fat Loss & More

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Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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