Training The Chain

By Paul Markgraff, Managing Editor, CSCCa Monthly | Twitter: @csccamonthly Facebook: CSCCaMonthly

When Dr. Pat Ivey arrived at the University of Missouri during the spring of 2004, the first training he emphasized was posterior chain training. Ivey, who holds the titles of MSCC and Associate Athletic Director for Athletic Performance at Missouri, focused on training the chain to build a foundation. After all, he says, that is where the power comes from.


“I wanted to make sure we were set up to have a good summer,” says Ivey. “So we spent three weeks developing the posterior chain. I think of it as the foundation. For a power athlete, you can’t produce power without having a strong posterior chain. If you look at the muscle groups we are talking about, ‘posterior’ means back and ‘chain’ means that everything is connected. So you can look at the upper back, developing the traps through the lower back, erectors, glutes and hamstrings.”

There are various exercises athletes can use to build the kind of power required for explosive movement, says Ivey. If we start with the traps, then we are talking about shrugs. Heavy shrugs are great for developing the traps. For the lower back, Ivey likes the reverse-hyper. Glute-ham raises are perfect for developing the glutes. On the whole, Ivey likes squats, dead lifts and box squats. These are the primary strength-building exercises Ivey believes in.

Plyometrics Absorb Force

Ivey says he and his staff are careful not to become too enamored of exercises designed to produce force alone. He says many strength coaches overlook exercises that train force absorption.

“It’s just like putting a huge motor in a car and not working on the suspension or the brakes,” says Ivey. “Eventually, you are going to crash if you develop something like that. If you don’t develop the handling of that car, you are going to crash.”

Ivey says many coaches fall into the trap of training student-athletes backward. They get so caught up in producing the power that they forget they need to stop that power.

“That’s something that definitely needs to be emphasized more in training,” he says. “Athletes not only need to be able to produce more power, they need to absorb it. Ultimately, you want your athletes to consistently perform at their highest level and ability, but you also want them to be safe and avoid injury.”

Mat Drills For All

Ivey utilizes mat drills to fill a variety of training needs, including posterior chain training.

“If you’re trying to accomplish conditioning, you can pick up the pace,” he says. “If you want to emphasize movement and agility, you can slow down the pace. If you want to emphasize teamwork, you can do that as well. You can emphasize whatever you want from mat drills. If you want to it be just a warm-up, you may not have them go full speed.”

Ivey says that mat drills are also perfect for emphasizing competition, in which case he may not focus to closely on technique.

“If you’re looking for acceleration, you have three guys on the mat at one time,” he says. “You can gauge how hard someone is accelerating because you have two other people to compare that person to.”

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