Posterior Chain

Addressing Strengths & Weaknesses

“It’s not enough to be good if you have the ability to be better.”

As you may be aware, I am big on quotes and that one tops the list (even on the link). An issue with several athletes and coaches is the belief that “good” is enough and they can hold steady and continue to succeed. Reflecting on yourself, your knowledge, and your skill set, then finding where you can improve and actually RECOGNIZING those areas as weaknesses is a difficult and humbling act. 

In the weight room, this is evident in athletes who hate stretching, or doing heavy leg work, or balancing their bench pressing with enough back work. The reason for avoiding certain work in training is usually simple – they aren’t good at it. They aren’t flexible so stretching hurts and shows their inflexibility, their weights on leg lifts aren’t as impressive as others or leaves them sore (due to lack of training), and nobody ever asks how many chin-ups you can do, the focus is on pressing big weight. Ask a high level athlete what his strengths are and you’ll likely get a well-rounded answer (depending on how modest the athlete is). Ask the same athlete about their weaknesses and you’ll likely get a half hearted response or one that starts with “Well, coach says I need to work on…” 

And therein lies the issue – athletes (and their coaches) attempt to distance themselves from their weaknesses and focus exclusively on their strengths. There is reason to emphasize strengths and hide weaknesses in competition (don’t plan to run the ball 90% of the time if your team is built to pass), but in training this leads to imbalances or worse, injuries. Most athletes have been training to enhance their imbalances most of their lives by drifting towards their strengths and avoiding their weak areas at all costs. By the time they recognize the importance of a balanced program, it’s usually too late or comes after rehabbing an avoidable injury.

In order to return to a physically balanced state, it is important to build the program in an IMBALANCED manner. More specifically, put a higher emphasis on improving weaknesses and creating a balanced (in terms of agonist/antagonist muscle forces) athlete. Eric Cressey does an excellent job describing how he addresses this in his training programs with this webinar

Many of these imbalances can be seen in an athlete’s posture or with a simple movement screen such as the FMS. Common imbalances such as Janda’s Upper-Crossed/Lower-Crossed Syndromes or any chronically overactive/underactive muscles can be noted by these assessments, but in order for an athlete to improve, a self-assessment is necessary. Below is my own self-assessment and next week I will show how the workouts have been built to address them.


  • Ankle mobility
  • Lower body flexibility – primarily hamstrings & quadriceps
  • Unilateral leg strength
  • Transverse plane core strength – resisting rotation
  • Scapular retractors isometric strength
  • Rotator cuff activation & strength


  • Bilateral leg strength
  • Posterior chain & erector spinae strength
  • Sagittal plane core strength – resisting spinal flexion
  • Vertical pulling strength

It’s important for weaknesses to be addressed first in both assessment AND program design. When looking at weaknesses first, it becomes obvious what modifications must be done in programming. Next week, I’ll cover how the above weaknesses are addressed in my workouts. If you have completed a similar assessment and would like some ideas on how to improve them, feel free to leave a comment below or email me anytime.

As always, if I can ever be of assistance to you or your program, don’t hesitate to contact me.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES

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Articles & Videos You Should See 5-4-12

I know it’s been a while since I put one of these up, so I figured it’s time. The following are some excellent articles and videos from around the internet regarding training, nutrition, & sports performance.


Deadlift or Squat: What’s the Diff? – This is an interesting article by coach Michael Boyle on how the line between squats and deadlifts has blurred. Also a little bit of a shameless plug as I was with Michael when he was working on this article and demonstrated the Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (cough*third video*cough).

50 Tips for Fat Loss – Charles Poliquin is one of the greats in the industry and does an excellent job compiling information & research into concise articles. There’s a quote I am fond of that I feel describes this quite well – “A great surgeon invents an operation only he can do. A truly great surgeon invents an operation that everyone can do.” The idea of taking the complex and making it simple is a difficult art, however Charles excels at it.

A Complaint Free World – I am interested to see where Dr. E is at right now with his goal to goal 21 days without complaining. If it works, I’m going to buy one for myself and every athlete I work with. 21 days without hearing a complaint? I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.

101 Tips for Being a Great General Manager – Coach Boyle makes a second appearance on the list (mainly because I couldn’t find the original source). Many of the tips have carryover from managing a business to simply managing relationships. Whether they are professional, personal, or other, relationships fail if you take them for granted.

The Story of Me and Food – Speaking of relationships, this piece comes from a friend of mine, Katie Sullivan. She is an amazing young woman I had the pleasure of getting to know during college and is currently an NPC Bikini Athlete…and oh yeah, going to freaking LAW SCHOOL. Holy crap, if you want to learn from a smart person who knows the importance of time management, look no further. This piece is more for women and coaches who work with female athletes, as image issues are a very real and troubling problem that some studies say affect up to 8 million Americans annually (90% of which are women).

PJF Performance Random Facts – Another close friend of mine, P.J. Fabritz, is a young, intelligent and passionate strength coach who wrote this interesting piece (albeit lighthearted). If you don’t know him yet, don’t be surprised to see his name coming up more often.


Bridge Rollouts – I was going to just post the YouTube link, but Ben Bruno does an excellent job describing the exercise and what’s going on. Ben’s limitless creativity never ceases to amaze me and I look forward to trying these out.

Hakeem Olajuwon Scoring Skills – This was in Bill Simmons most recent article and after viewing it, I was reminded why I love basketball. The Dream Shake with the up & under made Hakeem one of the three greatest centers of all time in my mind. Not to mention, the guy is 7 feet tall and moves that smoothly! My start in coaching was with the Coconino High School Boys Basketball Team in Flagstaff, AZ and there are a few athletes I worked with who will be entering their senior seasons there. Josh, Jake, Jason, and Bam-Bam (aka Andy), I’m telling you to watch this video and learn the up & under from the best. Good luck next year guys.

As always, if I can ever be of assistance to you or your program, please don’t hesitate to contact me at any time.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES

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Articles & Videos You Should See 11-7

Here are this week’s articles and videos I think contain valuable information for coaches & their athletes. I hope you find the same value in them as I do.
7 Habits for Highly Effective Training – Simple concepts and habits that every athlete should keep in mind when training. If you’re a coach, I recommend going over these with your players. It might be common sense to you or me, but it may be novel to them.
How to Squat Deeper – If mobility is an issue for you or your athletes, Joe Meglio provides several methods of helping improve joint function in this article.
Simple Thoracic Spine Mobility Exercises – More mobility exercises, only Mike Reinold focuses solely on the thoracic spine and is able to go into greater detail.
Leave Your Mark –  “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Even for the most determined of us have trouble finding motivation occasionally, Chad Howse does a good job of reiterating what it takes to “Be Legendary.” These are more good points to discuss with your athletes to keep them in the present, but looking to the future.
Single Leg Barbell RDL/Row Combo – Big fan of this exercise, though I would instruct athletes to maintain a proper lower back arch, even if they can’t get all the way down (in the video, he rounds his back slightly to touch the weight to the ground).
Workout Finishers For Basketball Players and Teams – Alan Stein provides another great video for basketball coaches to use with their players. If you work with basketball players, be sure to subscribe to his channel on YouTube or follow him on Twitter because he is an EXCELLENT resource to have. He produces tons of great videos and articles.
Pike Rollback – At about the 2:30 mark, Nick Tumminello actually gets around to demonstrating this exercise. If you’ve ever seen any of Nick’s videos, you know he likes to talk as much as anyone I know, but fortunately it’s usually stuff I want to learn, so it works out quite well. This is no exception and I am excited to work this exercise into my programs.
Later this week, I will be putting up a big post on what you should have, as well as what you should avoid, for a successful training system. If I can ever be of assistance to you or your program, please feel free to contact me.
All the best,
Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW
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