Are you curious about Westside Barbell posterior chain exercises?
Do you wonder how Louie Simmons trains the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back to build a massive squat and deadlift?
Then you’ve come to the right place.
In this comprehensive guide, I will show you how to use Westside Barbell posterior chain exercises to take your powerlifting total to the next level!
- Part 1: Westside Hamstrings Exercises
- Part 2: Westside Lower Back Exercises
The posterior chain is composed of the hamstrings, the glutes and the lower back.
These three muscles work together to help you perform the hip extension movement pattern during exercises like the squat and deadlift.
Louie Simmons says that the quads are an overrated muscle group. If you want to build a huge squat or deadlift, then you have to focus all of your attention on building the posterior chain!
Louie Simmons likes to focus on exercises that primarily target the hamstrings or the lower back. You are going to use the hamstrings, glutes and lower back during any posterior chain exercise but some exercises target the hamstrings more while others target the lower back more.
For example, the glute ham raise is one of Louie Simmons’ favorite exercises for the hamstrings. Check it out:
The glute ham raise is unique because it trains the hamstrings as knee flexors and hip extensors at the same time. There are very few hamstrings exercises that can do this.
The glute ham raise primarily targets the hamstrings but the lower back also has to work hard to keep your upper body fully extended throughout the movement.
Louie Simmons also uses a variety of exercises to target the lower back. One of his favorites is the reverse hyperextension. Check it out:
The reverse hyperextension targets all of the muscles of the posterior chain but it is especially effective for training the lower back.
The reverse hyperextension is one of the only exercises that strengthens and rehabilitates the lower back at the same time.
There are many other lower back exercises that the Westside team uses including good mornings, the back attack machine and the 45 degree back extension. All of these exercises are also great for overloading the glutes and even the hamstrings.
I hope you found this overview helpful. Now let’s take a closer look at some of the best posterior chain accessory exercises of all time.
Part 1: Westside Hamstrings Exercises
The Westside Barbell powerlifting team performs at least 1 posterior chain exercise targeting their hamstrings on every lower body workout.
Here are some of the Westisde team’s favorite hamstrings exercises (click on the links for videos):
The Best Hamstrings Accessory Exercises
Louie Simmons says that the inverse leg curl is his favorite hamstrings exercise in the world. Check it out:
Option #1: The Inverse Leg Curl
The inverse leg curl is the exact opposite of a regular leg curl. Instead of curling your heels towards your butt you are curling your butt towards your heels!
Louie Simmons says that the inverse leg curl is like a glute ham raise, only better:
“It’s an improved version of the glute ham raise. It is the single greatest hamstrings exercise that you can perform.”
If you do not have access to this piece of equipment then you can also perform “Nordic leg curls.”
The Nordic leg curl is just like the inverse leg curl machine except you don’t have the machine to help lift you out of the bottom position of the exercise.
Another one of the Westisde team’s favorite hamstrings exercises is the belt squat. Check it out:
Option #2: The Belt Squat
Louie Simmons invented the belt squat in 1975 after he broke his lower back.
The belt squat is unique because it lets you train all of the squatting muscles without putting compressive force on your lower back.
Louie Simmons likes to perform this exercise where you are sitting back onto a parallel box. This targets the hamstrings and glutes even harder and will do wonders for your squat and deadlift.
Of course we can’t talk about the best Westside hamstrings exercises without talking about the glute ham raise! The glute ham raise was Louie Simmons’ favorite hamstrings exercise until he invented the inverse leg curl machine. Check it out:
Option #3: The Glute Ham Raise
The glute ham raise is superior to other hamstrings accessory exercises because it trains the hamstrings as knee flexors and hip extensors at the same time.
Your hamstrings, glutes and lower back have to work together to extend your hips while your hamstrings pull your entire body back to the starting position.
Many Westside Barbell powerlifters like Dave Tate swear by the glute ham raise for building up the hamstrings.
There is one more hamstrings exercise that you must know about: the sled drag. The sled drag is an underrated and highly effective exercise for building the hamstrings. Here is a perfect video demonstration:
Option #4: The Forward Sled Drag
Louie Simmons says that the forward sled drag is one of the best exercises you can perform to build your deadlift. It works the hamstrings and glutes extremely hard and will build your work capacity while strengthening your lower body.
The bottom line is the Westside team uses the inverse leg curl, the belt squat, the glute ham raise and the forward sled drag to build the hamstrings.
If you are using the Westside Barbell powerlifting program then I suggest you do the same.
Part 2: Westside Lower Back Exercises
The lower back is one of the most important muscle groups for the squat and deadlift. Louie Simmons learned this lesson the hard way: he broke his back in 1973 and almost had to retire from powerlifting!
Fortunately Louie Simmons found some great lower back exercises and was able to rehabilitate himself back to full health.
Here are some of Louie’s favorite posterior chain exercises that emphasize the lower back (click on the links for videos):
The Best Lower Back Accessory Exercises
- Option #1: The reverse hyperextension
- Option #2: The back attack
- Option #3: The 45 degree back extension
- Option #4: Good mornings
The Westside Barbell powerlifting team performs at least one of these exercises per workout.
Let’s start by talking about Louie’s all-time favorite lower back exercise: the reverse hyperextension.
Option #1: The Reverse Hyperextension
Louie Simmons invented the reverse hyperextension machine in 1975 after he broke his lower back. The reverse hyperextension is almost like the opposite of the regular 45 degree back extension.
Instead of extending your upper body forwards you are extending your legs backwards behind you!
The reverse hyperextension overloads your lower back as well as the other muscles in your posterior chain. It also decompresses your lower back which reduces your risk of injury.
Another great lower back exercise is the back attack machine. Check it out:
Option #2: The Back Attack
The back attack machine was invented relatively recently. It is almost like a good morning machine. However, unlike a regular good morning this machine applies force in many different directions.
At the top of the movement the machine pushes you forwards and in the bottom part of the exercise it pushes you downwards. In other words it overloads your back through the entire range of motion. Almost no other lower back exercise can do this!
Of course the Westside team also likes to perform regular back extensions in their training. Their favorite version of this exercise is the 45 degree back extension. Check it out:
Option #3: The 45 Degree Back Extension
The 45 degree back extension does a tremendous job of overloading your lower back in the mid-range and shortened position of the strength curve. This exercise also does a great job of overloading your other posterior chain muscles including your glutes and hamstrings.
The Westside Barbell powerlifting team has many different ways to add resistance to this exercise. They use regular 45 pound barbells, the safety squat bar, bands, chains and even medicine balls to make the exercise more challenging.
Finally the Westside Barbell powerlifting team also uses plenty of good morning variations to train the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. Check it out:
Option #4: Good Mornings
The Westside Barbell powerlifting team mostly uses the good morning as a max effort exercise but they also perform this exercise as a lower back accessory exercise. The only problem with performing too many good mornings is it does compress the lumbar spine.
The Westside team likes to focus on other posterior chain exercises like the reverse hyperextension, the belt squat or the 45 degree back extension because these exercises also traction the lower back while strengthening it.
The Westside Barbell powerlifting team uses a wide variety of posterior chain accessory exercises including the reverse hyperextension, inverse leg curl, belt squat and back attack machine.
As a general rule of thumb the Westside team performs at least 1 accessory exercise targeting the lower back and at least 1 accessory exercise targeting the hamstrings per workout.
If you do this then you will be well on your way to a stronger squat and deadlift.
“Most powerlifters share some common defects. We, as a whole for whatever reason, LOVE to punish, beat and torture ourselves beyond the limits of mind and body.
It is our spirit that prevails. This defect of intelligence and sensibility pushes us on to the next level, makes us better and stronger. Thank God that therapy doesn’t work on us.”
Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!