Strength phase exercises for the extension chain

Strength phase exercises for the extension chain

    Strength phase exercises for the extension chain

    The following exercises are all hip dominant movements which focus on
    using your glutes and hamstrings to lift yourself up. Do your best to keep
    your spine slightly extended so you won’t be tempted to perform these moves
    with a lot of movement in your lower back. If you do feel a lot of stress in
    your lower back, it’s usually a sign that you’re overloading the exercise. If
    that’s the case, I suggest regressing a level or two and practice driving your
    hips up with more tension in your glutes and hamstrings.
    All of the techniques are shown using the Grind Straps, but any elevated
    surface, like a step or weight bench will do.

    Level 1 Floor straight leg hip bridge

    Don’t underestimate the power of this simple movement. It’s a perfect
    opportunity to explore how you’re using tension in your extension chain in a
    balanced way from head to toes.
    Newcomers to this movement might find their hamstrings are prone to
    cramping if they are not used to putting much tension in those muscles. If
    you're experiencing such a thing, decrease the range of motion, so you're not
    lifting your hips quite as high. Your hamstrings will quickly grow stronger
    and more resilient in a few weeks, and you'll be able to handle this move
    without any problems.
    Key points
    Focus on driving your heels down into the floor to ensure full
    activation of your hamstrings.
    Let your hips “kiss” the floor rather than completely resting to
    ensure constant resistance on your extension chain.
    Keep your shoulder blades tucked down and back to provide
    additional support for your spine, which should also be slightly
    extended on the floor.
    It may be helpful to imagine opening the back of your hips at the
    bottom position and clenching your glutes and hamstrings at the
    top.

    Level 2 Cross ankle hip bridge

    This exercise progresses the resistance by shifting more of your weight onto
    one leg while the other is assisting. Be sure to place the foot of your working
    leg on your centerline to avoid excessive torque on your hips and torso.
    Key points
    Pay attention to the tension in the hamstrings in the inner thigh.
    It’s natural for those muscles to work harder to maintain
    stability.
    Work hard to keep your pelvis level so one hip isn’t higher than
    the other. There’s a tendency to twist the hips and torso with
    unilateral hip extensions. Trying to fight that rotation is part of
    what makes the exercise more effective.
    You can slightly progress the resistance of this technique by
    placing your supporting foot up closer to the knee. Doing so
    changes leverage of the assisting leg and forces the working leg
    to work harder.

    Level 3 Single leg hip bridge

    Not only will this put all of
    your weight on one leg, but you're now also lifting the weight of your nonlifting
    leg.
    Key points
    Avoid the tendency to kick up the non-lifting leg. Just press your
    heel straight out while keeping your quads tense to lock out the
    leg.
    Watch out for any lateral movement in the foot or knee of the
    working leg. Do your best to lock your whole leg into place as
    you move your hips up and down.
    Experiment with pointing your toes forward up up to the ceiling
    to find the most comfortable position for your working leg.

    Level 4 Straight leg bridge on straps

    This move is a pretty big progression for several reasons. It incorporates a lot
    more range of motion in your hips plus it creates more leverage on your
    spinal muscles. It also requires more stability in your arms and shoulders as
    you push your shoulders down and back.
    Key points
    As with knee tucks, you can adjust the resistance of this move,
    depending on where you place your hands. Moving your hands
    closer to the anchor point increases the resistance while moving
    them back decreases it.
    Do your best to use tension along your entire extension chain and
    prevent the tension from “pooling” into any specific areas like
    the lower back.
    Just as with floor hip extensions, only use the range of motion
    you’re comfortable with and can use with control. Avoid using
    momentum or poor technique to lift your hips as high as
    possible.

    Level 5 Cross ankle straight leg bridge

    Just as with the lying bridges, the next progression of the straight leg bridge
    is to cross at the ankle, so you're placing more resistance on one leg.
    You'll probably notice this also makes the opposite arm and back muscles
    work harder too. This is perfectly natural since force transfers diagonally
    through the body. Your challenge is to maintain stability throughout your
    whole body so you move without any twisting or shifting to the side.
    Key points
    Avoid twisting your torso as much as possible, especially as your
    muscles fatigue throughout the set.
    Keep your toes pointing up or forward, so you don't twist your
    leg throughout each rep.
    As with the cross angle bridges on the floor, you can progress the
    resistance of this technique by positioning your supporting foot
    closer to your knee.

    Level 6 Single straight leg bridge

    The single leg hip bridge requires a lot of strength, mobility, and stability
    from your whole body. All of your lower body weight is on one leg, which
    will place more resistance on the opposing arm. Just be sure to keep at least
    some weight on the other arm to maintain torso stability. Keeping your
    working leg on your centerline will help improve your stability as well.
    Key points
    Keeping your shoulder blades tucked is even more critical for
    your spine and upper body stability with this exercise. You may
    want to use the scapular tension exercise for the pull chain to
    wake up your traps before doing this technique.
    If you feel a lot of strain behind your knee, try regressing back to
    the cross ankle bridge on the straps with your foot closer to your
    knee.
    You can add additional support for your knee by pushing the ball
    of your foot into the handle as you lift your hips.
    Hypertrophy phase exercises for the extension chain
    Extension chain finishers
    Like with the flexion chain, you can employ any of the progressions as an
    isometric finisher where you hold the top position for 20-30 seconds.
    These are also an excellent chance to work on placing tension along your
    entire extension chain and not having the tension "pool" into one muscle
    group or another.
    You can also use a regressed level for a set of hard reps. For example, floor
    hip extensions for 15-20 reps is a good finishing set after doing some x ankle
    hip extensions on the straps.
    Extension chain focused exercises
    Hamstring curls
    These are the same hamstring curls as the squat chain hypertrophy exercises.
    With the extension chain variations, feel free to play around with cross ankle
    and even single leg progressions of this exercise.
    Strap bridges
    Classic bridge exercises use a lot of spinal extension to bend backward. This
    is a beneficial exercise, and I encourage anyone willing to learn it to use it.
    However, the premise behind GSC is to use less technically demanding
    exercises that anyone can do, and back bending is something many people
    struggle with.
    With that said, back bending bridges do bring a lot of benefits to the spine,
    and they are a great way to relieve stress in the joints. That's why I created
    this strap bridge exercise to make the benefits of bending back more
    accessible to those who have a hard time pushing off of the floor.
    You can perform this exercise for reps, or as an isometric finisher for 20-30
    seconds.
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