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Per Bernal

Per Bernal

We know you like to look good in front of the mirror—but what’s behind you is just as important. The muscles that run along the back of your body, from your calves to your upper back, are crucial to not only creating a strong, lean, well-rounded physique, they also help you perform at your best.

“We live in such a sedentary society that we often become imbalanced, especially along the posterior chain,” explains Rafique “Flex” Cabral, trainer and co-owner of Trooper Fitness in New York. That’s especially true if you sit at a desk for much of the day. “Sitting reinforces bad posture—rolling your shoulders forward and creating shortened, tighter hip flexors. This can lead to chronic pain,” he says. Training the posterior chain is strong medicine to help fix these imbalances while improving overall performance.

This workout uses a series of circuits to strengthen the entire posterior chain, including the upper, middle, and lower back; obliques; glutes; hamstrings; and calves. “It’s designed to build strength and endurance while also increasing your anaerobic capacity,” notes Cabral. “It’s not easy, but it will get the job done.”


Do the circuits in the order below. Don’t take any breaks when doing each circuit for the given number of rounds, but give yourself a one-to three-minute break between each circuit.

Circuit 1: 1 Round

  • Barbell Deadlift

Circuit 2: 4 Rounds (No Rest Between Circuits) 

  • Pullup
  • Single-Leg Glute Bridge
  • Squat To Row
  • Reverse Mini Band Walk

Circuit 3: 3 Rounds (No Rest Between Circuits)

  • Supine TRX Row
  • TRX Hip Bridge
  • Sumo Squat To Overhead Extension

Circuit 4: 4 Rounds

  • Weight Swing
  • Incline Interval Sprint

Click through to see each circuit and instructions.

SEE ALSO: The Fat-Burning Interval Workout

Workout by Flex Cabral, co-owner of Trooper Fitness, New York City

Photos by Per Bernal

Our model: Alicia Marie
IFBB bikini pro, author of The Booty Bible, professional cosplayer, and video game media personality
Instagram and Twitter: @AliciaMarieBody

Deadlift alicia marie
Per Bernal

CIRCUIT 1: 1 Round

Barbell Deadlift

Works: glutes, hamstrings

  1. Stand with midfoot just under a barbell on the floor, feet hip-distance apart, toes turned out slightly. Hinge forward and grasp bar with overhand or alternate grip (shown). Bend knees until shins touch bar (above left).
  2. Lift your chest, straightening back, and pull weight off the floor, keeping bar close to body. Lock hips and knees at the top of the movement (above right).
  3. Push hips back and lower weight to floor, bending legs when the bar reaches knees. Pause one count and repeat. 

Do five sets of five reps (60–80% max), resting two minutes between sets.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate At-Home Workout


Pullup alicia marie

CIRCUIT 2: 4 Rounds


Works: shoulders, back, biceps

  1. Stand under a pullup bar (use box or bench if necessary), gripping bar with palms facing away from body (above left).
  2. Pull yourself up until chin is just over the bar, keeping your body straight (above right). Lower down slowly, trying not to arch back
  3. or swing excessively. (To make it easier, loop a thick resistance band around the bar and place one knee inside the band.) 

Do 8–12 reps.

Glute bridge alicia marie

Single-Leg Glute Bridge

Works: glutes, hamstrings

  1. Lie faceup on the floor, perpendicular to bench, knees bent 90 degrees with soles of feet against edge of bench, hands on floor next to hips, palms down. Extend right leg directly above hip, keeping left foot on bench (above left).
  2. Lift hips, pushing through left foot and glute, forming a straight line from left knee to shoulders. Keep right leg extended, foot flexed, squeezing glutes at the top of the movement (above right).
  3. Slowly lower hips back toward floor without touching, keeping right leg up. 

Do 12 reps per leg.

SEE ALSO: 5 Moves to Get Chiseled From Head to Toe

Squat to row alicia marie

Squat To Row 

Works: back, glutes, quads

  1. Wrap resistance band around a pole or stationary object at about hip height (or use a cable machine). Hold handles and step back so there’s tension on the band. Squat down, keeping arms extended in front of you, palms facing each other (above left).
  2. Stand up, pulling elbows toward sides and squeezing glutes (above right). 

Do 12 reps.

Mini band walk
Per Bernal

Reverse Mini Band Walk

Works: glutes

  1. Stand with feet about hip-distance apart with a mini resistance band around both ankles, elbows bent and hands in front of body. (Can sub in resistance tube looped a couple of times around legs.)
  2. Take a small step back with left leg, keeping abs tight and knees slightly bent. Step back again with right leg. 

Continue stepping back for one minute.

Trx row alicia marie

CIRCUIT 3: 3 Rounds

Supine TRX Row

Works: back, glutes 

  1. Position yourself under a TRX holding handles with palms facing in. Walk body back until arms are fully extended, knees bent about 90 degrees (above left); keep abs and glutes tight.
  2. Pull yourself up, keeping elbows close to sides while straightening legs. Don’t arch back (above right).
  3. Slowly lower back to start and repeat. 

Do 15 reps.

Trx hip bridge alicia marie

SEE ALSO: Get Slim and Sculpted With TRX

TRX Hip Bridge

Works: glutes, hamstrings

  1. Lie faceup on floor with heels in TRX handles a couple of feet off the floor. Bend knees about 90 degrees, keeping arms at sides, palms down (above left).
  2. Lift hips, forming a straight line from knees to shoulders (above right). Hold here one count, then lower hips back toward floor and repeat.

Do 15 reps.

Sumo squat overhead extension

Sumo Squat To Overhead Extension 

Works: back, core, glutes, quads

  1. Wrap a resistance band around a pole or other stationary object at about shin height (or use a cable machine); holding handles, step back so there’s tension on the band. Squat down, bringing handles between legs (above left).
  2. Stand up powerfully through heels, lifting arms above shoulders with palms facing out (above right). 
  3. Return to squat and repeat. 

Do 15 reps.

Weight swing alicia marie

CIRCUIT 4: 4 Rounds

Weight Swing

Works: rear shoulders, back, glutes, hamstrings

  1. Stand with feet wide apart holding a weight plate or kettlebell in front of you with both hands, arms extended. Bending slightly at hips and knees, bring plate between legs (above left).
  2. Pop hips forward as you thrust the weight in front of body, as if hiking a football (above right). Use the power from your hips, not arms, to swing the weight forward. Allow momentum to bring the weight back down and repeat. 

Do 20 reps, followed immediately by Incline Interval Sprints; continue alternating moves.

Incline Interval Sprint (not shown)
Do four 20-second sprints on a treadmill set to an incline of 4 to 8 at a challenging speed, taking a 10-second break between each sprint.

Return to Weight Swings immediately after final sprint.

SEE ALSO: The Fat-Burning Treadmill Workout