Posterior Development to Improve Athleticism

Posterior Development to Improve Athleticism

Over the years, many athletes have made the pilgrimage to Westside Barbell to see what the Conjugate Method can do to help them further excel in their sport. Whether it has been aspiring professional athletes preparing for their professional draft evaluations, or amateur athletes looking to improve their athleticism to draw interest from different programs, Louie has successfully applied the Conjugate Method to many different sports. 

At Westside, we have long understood the importance of max effort training, dynamic effort training, and hypertrophy-focused training when aiming to improve an individual’s athletic ability. Using the Conjugate Method, Louie has shaved seconds off of 40-yard dash times and added inches to max vertical jumps for many years. 

No matter the sport, maintaining a strong posterior chain is essential. Strong glutes, hamstrings, and back muscles improve sports performance and lower injury rates. There is no doubt about it; an athlete with an adequately developed posterior chain will run faster, jump higher, and experience a reduced risk of back or knee injury throughout their career. 

Here are a few posterior chain-focused exercises that coaches can implement immediately to begin improving an individual’s athleticism and preparedness:

Sumo Deadlift

The sumo deadlift is a great way to develop a powerful posterior chain. The ideal stance is wide enough to mimic a solid squared-up sports stance. The goal is to activate your hips and glutes as much as possible via your choice of stance. When used in the training of athletes, the sumo deadlift can be used multiple ways:

Max Effort - Athletes will work up to max singles or triples. The goal for max effort singles is to beat your former max, while the goal for triples is to lift at least 90% of your former max for three reps. 

Dynamic Effort - Athletes will perform multiple sets of single rep speed deadlifts. This means lifting single reps between 70-85% for six to eight total sets. The athlete’s input is important. Considering the lighter weight, an athlete must strive for maximal output each rep regardless of how light the weight may feel. 

Repeated Effort - Athletes will perform timed sets following a specific pace using a predetermined weight. For example, choose a weight that would be considered light to moderate and focus on lifting one rep per second for 60 seconds. This use of the sumo deadlift is excellent for maintaining or increasing overall physical fitness and preparedness. 

Belt Squats

The belt squat is a piece of equipment that greatly serves both athletes and lifters alike. It is an excellent tool to develop explosive power or increase overall physical fitness. Here is how we utilize the belt squat at Westside to improve athletic performance:

Improve Speed - Set up a soft squat box (box with foam placed on top) and weight the athlete is comfortable with, using a fast and relaxed eccentric phase to reach the box. Once on the box, explode to complete the concentric portion of the lift. This is done for a predetermined amount of time.

Louie recommends going about 25 seconds longer than your 60 or 100-meter time and 5 seconds longer than your 200 or 800-meter time. Increase weight as strength improves.

Improve Strength Endurance - Using a predetermined weight the athlete can lift for multiple reps, perform one rep per second for one minute. In the future, increase the weight or time to continue progressing. 

Belt Squat Walking

Belt squat walks are a great way to train an athlete or prepare an athlete for a training day. This exercise is as simple as it gets; you will attach the belt squat belt to your waist and begin walking.

The walk should resemble a march, making sure the feet are adequately lifted off of the platform as you walk. Lazy input = less benefit.

Here are a few ways to use belt squat walks to build the legs:

Walking Forward - Forward walks focus on developing the hamstrings. You should be forward enough on the platform to feel you are dragging the weight forward.

Walking Backward - Backward walks focus on developing the quads. Like walking forward, you want to make sure you position yourself to the rear of the belt squat platform to feel you are dragging the weight backward. 

Side to Side - Side to side walks are performed to target the hips and glutes maximally. Execution is similar to rocking side to side; however, you want to focus on driving off of the outside of your foot each step. When done correctly, you should feel your hips and glutes engaged to the max. 

Conjugate For Athletes

It is no secret that the Conjugate Method is the best choice for powerlifting training, but as you can see above, Conjugate-style training is the best choice for athletes as well. When it comes to molding a program to fit an athlete’s specific training needs, no method compares. 

Many coaches believe you must mimic the sporting motions as closely as possible, with resistance added. This approach is not only wrong; it places the athlete at a greater risk of injury both in training and on the field. The actual activity is dangerous, and it leaves the athlete unprepared during competition. 

The basic barbell movements may not be as entertaining as having a running back run a cone drill in a weighted vest carrying a weighted football. Still, they will deliver the results you seek much faster than some goofy “sports-specific” exercise. 

I’ve asked this before, would you rather tackle the running back squatting 700lbs for triples or the running back squatting 315lbs running cone drills with a parachute attached to their back? Lose the gimmicks, get back to the barbell, and dominate your sport. 


Simmons, L. (2015) Special Strength Development for All Sports. Westside Barbell.

Simmons, L. (2007). Westside Barbell Book of Methods. Westside Barbell.

Verkhoshansky, Y., & Siff, M. C. (2009). Supertraining. Verkhoshansky.

Zatsiorsky, V. M., & Kraemer, W. J. (2006). Science and Practice of Strength Training. Human Kinetics.


Burley Hawk

Burley Hawk

Burley Hawk is the Digital Content Manager at Westside Barbell and a Conjugate Method strength coach. Training and studying under Louie Simmons over the past decade, Burley has attained the experience, knowledge and understanding necessary to master the Conjugate Method.

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