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The different muscle groups in our bodies serve a variety of functions. One of the most important muscle groups in the body is the anterior chain, which controls forward movement. Learn more about the anterior chain and five exercises that can help you strengthen it.

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What Is the Anterior Chain?

The anterior chain refers to the muscle groups in the front of the body, including the pectoral muscles, hip flexors, core, and quadriceps. These muscle groups are responsible for generating the power to propel the body forward, helping the body run, jump, walk, and lift. The anterior chain controls forward movement working in tandem with the posterior chain, a muscle group in the backside of the body that controls backward movement.

Why Is the Anterior Chain Important?

The anterior chain is important because it controls forward movement, which is especially important for athletic performance in sports like tennis, soccer, and basketball. Each muscle group in the anterior chain plays a vital role in your body’s physical functions: Your quads control knee flexion (how the knee bends) and extension and are integral to running, jumping, and bending movements. A strong core plays an important role in stability and balance. Core strength keeps you from falling over and aids in changing direction. Your pecs help control your arms and help give you the strength necessary to push and lift heavy objects.

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Anterior Chain vs. Posterior Chain: What Is the Difference?

There are a few main difference between the two chains:

  • Different locations. The anterior chain muscles are in the front of the body, while the posterior chain muscles are on the backside of the body.
  • Encompass different muscle groups. The anterior chain contains pectoral muscles, quadriceps, and your core. Conversely, the posterior chain includes muscle groups located on the backside of the body, from your upper back to your calf muscles, including the latissimus dorsi (the largest muscle in the back), erector spinae (muscle group that runs along the spine), hamstrings, and gluteus maximi.
  • Control different movements. While the anterior chain controls forward movements and pushing, the posterior chain helps provide backward force for pulling. The posterior muscle groups help stabilize your spine and hips, keeping the body upright, aiding in better posture.

4 Anterior Chain Exercises

Always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program to determine if it’s right for you. Your anterior chain helps you move things and change directions quickly without toppling over. The following exercises can help strengthen your anterior chain:

  1. Planks: Planks are a great workout for your entire body but are especially effective for ab work. To perform this core exercise, get into the push-up position, and drop down onto your forearms. Align your back and squeeze your glutes slightly, holding that position for 45 to 60 seconds. Repeat five times.
  2. Front squats: To perform front squats, hold a barbell across the front of your shoulders, then slowly dip into the squat position. Keep your posture upright as you bend, ensuring your thighs are parallel to the ground. Avoid locking your knees as you straighten back up because it can place unnecessary strain on your joints.
  3. Lunges: Place one leg in front of the other at a comfortable distance apart. Bend your knees, keeping your front knee at a 90-degree angle. You can start using your own body weight as resistance and gradually add dumbbells to your workout. Keep your knees behind your toes as you bend to avoid placing unnecessary pressure on your joints.
  4. Straight leg raises: This exercise can help strengthen your anterior hip flexors, increase hip flexibility, and help prevent anterior pelvic tilt. Laying flat on your back, bend one knee and keep it planted on the floor while straightening your other leg. Slowly lift your leg, keeping your knee straight. Repeat a few times, then switch legs.

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