The Functionally Fit Fast Workout — Posterior Chain: Back, Lats, Glutes and Calves (Part III)

The “posterior chain” is the focus of Part III of a six-part video-based series on getting functionally fit fast. Functional fitness means being able to lift, pull and move your body through space over time efficiently and injury-free. If you’d like to get strong, muscular, more flexible and improve your cardio, begin with Part I and work your way here.

Think dead lifts are just for guys?

Think dead lifts are just for guys?

Note: This is part of my FREE guide, Transform Your Body and Mind. Go here and get the rest.

IF YOU’RE following along per plan, you’ve looked at a few of the mobility exercises presented in Part II.  Once your body is warm, particularly the joints and core, it’s time to play with some resistance.  There’s plenty of that here.

The 6-Part Functional Strength Series

  • Part I gets you oriented to the workout, including the important “Workout Guidelines” and “Workout Routine”, which are presented below.
  • Part II  focuses on mobility, which is the full range of motion in joints, and flexibility in ligaments and muscle, as well as some specialized exercises for overlooked muscles.
  • Part III is what you’re now reading, and focuses on the posterior chain: back, lats, glutes and calves.
  • Part IV focuses on the chest, shoulders and thighs.
  • Part V focuses on chest, biceps and triceps.
  • Part VI focuses on very important post-weight lifting stretches.
[Continuing from Part II…]


3. The Posterior Chain

Dead Lift/ Stair Lift/ Pull-up 3X Workout

3.1 Dead Lift

Warning: Do not perform the dead lift if you have back problems. Do not perform the Dead Lift if there is no instructor at your gym to show you proper form and observe that you’re doing it correctly.

Remember, for the first month or two of consistent exercise try for 15+ reps for lower body exercises and 12 for upper body during your workout. One reason for this is that it will force you to use a lower weight, which is appropriate as your body gets accustomed to the challenge. The Dead Lift is designated a lower body exercise.

I’ve found several versions of the Dead Lift posted on YouTube; pick the one that’s best suited for you. Select a lower weight than you think you can lift.

Begin with the single leg dead lift, with dumbbells (as shown below) or a light barbell.


As you develop strength and balance, try dumbbells.


Finally, move on to the barbell.

Once one of the three dead lifts are completed, move quickly to…


3.2 Stair Lift

In the example below, the woman is stepping up onto a high platform. Begin with a lower one. Choose a weight, dumbbell or kettle bell (as shown), appropriate for your fitness level, or just use your body weight.

Move quickly to…


3.3 Pull-up

Begin with palms facing away from you for the first set, then palms facing you and finally for the third set, thumbs facing you if your apparatus allows for that position; otherwise do the first two sets with palms away and the last with palms facing you.

Most people can not perform more than a couple of pull-ups/chin-ups, so use assistance. If none is available, step up on something that lifts your chin to the bar and lower yourself down no faster than five seconds. Eventually, you’ll be able to pull yourself up.

Here’s an example of a band assisted chin-up workout, which places more emphasis on the biceps (knuckles facing away) than does a pull-up (knuckles facing toward you).


You can also use machine assistance:


3.4 Calf Raisers

This is your rest period. Yes, you’re working your calves, but you’ll be able to catch your breath while doing so.

There are three muscles in the calf, and you work each of them by pronating your toes in, parallel and out. So, start if toes in and do the reps relative to the weight you’re using, but not less than five, then immediately go to the parallel position for five, and finally the toe-out position for the last five.

in the example below, the woman is on a weighted calf raise machine, but you can do the same exercise without weights, on one leg at a time, or holding a dumb bell. She does not turn her toes in, parallel and out, but you can.


OK, that’s the first Compound Set completed in this posterior chain workout. Do up to three circuits (meaning, repeat it as many as three times). Rest for no more than three minutes between circuits.

When that’s done, and begin the Compound Set in Part IV.


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Last Updated on August 27, 2023 by Joe Garma

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Joe Garma

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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