By Drew Scott, CPT   Photography by James Patrick

Time for a strength-training truth bomb. If you can crush a heavy deadlift but can barely do a push-up, then chances are you’re neglecting an integral area in your strength training: your anterior chain.

Anterior chain is the term used to describe the muscles on the front side of the body—more specifically, your pecs, quads, and core. Many females focus on building big, strong glutes and a sculpted back, or look to correct tight hips or poor posture, but anterior chain training is often put on the back burner in favor of squats and deadlifts. The result is a growing populace of women who can hip thrust a plate a side, but lack in the upper body strength department.

Our bodies function best when in balance. So what’s the fix? Enter this anterior routine that equally focuses on strength gains with anatomical functionality

THE WORKOUT

Following a few exercises to activate and mobilize the working muscles, you’ll start this workout with a big, heavy, technical movement: the front squat. This maximizes the impact of your strength work while the muscles are still fresh, and the multi-joint nature means more bang for your buck. You’ll then shift into a series of unilateral supersets (because when was the last time you walked with both legs at the same time?). We are unilateral machines and as such, this program aims to enhance the performance of your natural anatomy. Finally, you’ll see an intentional focus on the core throughout each exercise. Building rock solid abs will help correct postural issues, improve your balance, and give you the power to add more plates to your big lifts.

How to: Complete the following workout (both components) 1-2 times per week for 6-8 weeks.

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ACTIVATION & MOBILITY

Note: It is recommended you begin with a few minutes of foam rolling exercises, focusing on the following areas: quads, IT band, glutes, calves, lats, low back.

Perform each of the following as supersets with no rest between. Complete two supersets of both upper and lower body exercises.

Upper Body
1a) Incline Bench Y-Raise | 10 reps
1b) Incline Bench T-Raise | 10 reps

Lower Body
2a) 90/90 Hip Mobility Drill | 5 reps (each side)
2b) Banded Bodyweight Squat | 15 reps


STRENGTH

3) Barbell Front Squat
x3 warm-up reps (light weight) | 2 sets
x6-8 working reps (heavy weight) | 4 sets
90 sec rest between working sets
Perform as a superset with 60 sec rest between. Complete three supersets.

4a) Kettlebell Clean and Press | 5 reps (each side)
4b) Band Resisted Push-Up | 10 reps
Perform as a superset with 60 sec rest between. Complete four supersets.

5a) Incline Single-Arm Chest Press | 10 reps (each side)
5b) Leaning Single-Arm Lateral Raise | 10 reps (each side)
Perform as a superset with 60 sec rest between. Complete three supersets.

6a) Deadbug with Stability Ball (slow tempo) | 10 reps
6b) Banded Palloff Press | 10 reps (each side)


Incline Bench Y-Raise

Holding light dumbbells, position yourself chest-down on an incline bench with feet flat on the floor, arms extended downwards (A). Keeping your arms straight and thumbs pointed up, raise the dumbbells to form a Y-shape with your body (B). Lower back down and repeat.


Incline Bench T-Raise

Staying in the same position as the Y-Raise, raise the weights out to the sides, forming a T-shape with your body. Lower back down and repeat.


90/90 Hip Mobility Drill

Sit tall on the ground and form 90-degree angles with both legs, knees pointing in the same direction. Keeping your heels grounded, raise both knees off the ground and bring them to the floor on the opposite side. Continue rotating back and forth for all reps.


Banded Bodyweight Squat

Place a resistance band around your legs just above the knees and stand with feet hip-width apart. Perform squats as normal, pushing the outside of your legs against the band and squeezing at the top of the movement.


Barbell Front Squat

Stand holding a barbell so that it is in front of your chest and resting in your upturned palms on your delts. Keeping your upper body stationary and elbows facing forward, bend your knees and drop your hips into a squat. Press back up to standing and repeat for all reps.

If shoulder mobility is an issue, modify the exercise by holding two kettlebells in the racked position or dumbbells in front of the shoulders.


Kettlebell Clean & Press

Begin standing with the kettlebell between your feet. Reach down and grab it with your right hand (A). Come up to standing, pulling the kettlebell up the front of your body, rotating at chest-height into the racked position (B). Explosively press the weight straight overhead (C). Reverse the motion and return to the starting position. Perform all reps then switch sides and repeat.

It’s only five reps each side so be sure to use enough weight to challenge you!


Band-Resisted Push-Up

Get into push-up position with the band placed across your upper back, holding an end under each palm (A). Perform push-ups normally for all reps (B).

To modify, perform push-ups from the knees.


Incline Single-Arm Chest Press

Lie on an incline bench with a dumbbell in one hand at shoulder height, elbow pointed to 45 degrees from the body (A). Press the dumbbell straight towards the ceiling (B). Lower back down and repeat. Complete all reps then switch arms and repeat.


Leaning Single-Arm Lateral Raise

Hold onto a stable apparatus with your right hand, holding a dumbbell in the left down at your side. Stand with feet together and lean away from the anchor until your right arm is straight (A). Raise the dumbbell up at your side to shoulder height (B). Lower back down and repeat. Complete all reps then switch arms and repeat.


Deadbug with Stability Ball

Lie on your back on the floor with a stability ball placed between your hands and knees above the center of your body (A). Slowly, straighten your right leg and lower it towards the ground as you simultaneously lower your left arm behind your head (B). Slowly return to the starting position and repeat with the left leg and right arm. Continue alternating for all reps.


Banded Palloff Press

Fasten a resistance band to a stable anchor and stand adjacent to it, holding the end of the band with both hands in front of your chest (A). Slowly press your arms straight out in front of you (B). Hold for a breath, then slowly return to the starting position. Complete all reps then switch sides and repeat.

 You can also use a cable apparatus for this exercise.