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According to Army National Guardsman Chris Kellum, it takes a strong posterior chain and a “brick-wall back” to navigate through the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) — particularly the deadlift and leg tuck events (the latter being a cross between a pullup and a leg raise).
Even if you’re not in the Army, it would still serve you well to have a strong, muscular posterior chain. A bigger squat, a bigger deadlift, improved performance in virtually any sport, fewer injuries, a more badass physique — you’ll reap all these benefits with his posterior chain workout, courtesy of Kellum. You can thank him later for your brick wall back.
Featured trainer: SPC Chris Kellum is a sniper team infantryman in the Florida Army National Guard. A NETA-certified personal trainer and member of the Bravo Sierra team, his mission is to inspire others by incorporating fitness and military on his YouTube channel and documenting the process of transitioning to a warrant officer to go to flight school. All of his workouts can be found on his Playbook fitness app.
Equipment needed: Fully equipped gym – hex bar, pull-up bar, adjustable bench, dumbbells, lat pulldown station, kettlebell, cable station, reverse pec deck machine, cardio equipment (optional).
Time commitment: Roughly 70 minutes, according to Kellum.
Workout overview: Kellum’s workout consists of heavy deadlifts, followed by four two-exercise circuits (i.e., supersets), isolated core training, and steady-state cardio to finish. The overall routine focuses mainly on the posterior muscles (upper back, lower back, glutes, hamstrings), though the abs, obliques, biceps, and forearms will get worked as well.
While deadlift sets are relatively heavy (dropping down to 4 reps by the last set) to boost pure strength, the other sets stay in the eight- to 20-rep range to promote hypertrophy and a bit of endurance.
“This posterior chain workout is designed to increase your aerobic capacity while building back strength,” says Kellum, who created this workout as part of his Hybrid Warrior training plan. “In order to be successful in this workout, you need to make sure to track your rest between sets. Shoot for 45- to 60-second breaks in between supersets. You’ll be lifting less weight than usual, as the intensity is increased. But we still want to focus on proper form, and that can be compromised with shorter rest periods and fatigue.”
Warmup (12 minutes)
Hex-bar Deadlift: 1-2 warmup sets, followed by 4 working sets of 8, 8, 6, 4 reps
Circuit 1 — 4 Rounds:
Circuit 2 — 4 Rounds:
Circuit 3 — 3 Rounds:
Circuit 4 — 2 Rounds:
Core Work — 1-3 Rounds:
After a brief warmup of 20 forward leg swings and 20 lateral leg swings (per leg), do 20 minutes of steady-state cardio on your preferred cardio machine or jogging/running. Maintain an intensity of 65%-70% of your max heart rate the entire time.
“You should be able to say a complete sentence without gasping for air,” says Kellum. “The goal is to get the blood flowing to increase recovery. We’re not training to overly tax our bodies during this cardio session.”
Example: for a 28-year-old: 220 – 28 = 192 Max HR
To find 65%-70% of Max HR:
Target HR zone for workout: