Read time: 7 minute read

A little over a month ago, the fitness industry lost a legend – Louis Simmons. He is notorious for his unique contribution to the industry and his impact on both men and women in training. 

Louis’ primary focus is raw strength, specifically powerlifting. He trains some of the world’s best powerlifters at his own gym, Westside Barbell in Ohio, USA. His methods are used worldwide and have been re-interpreted by trainers everywhere! Including myself. 

The more obvious aspects – think chains and bands – those were Louis’ contributions.

Louis placed great emphasis on building what we call the ‘posterior chain’ – a group of muscles that are priority in superhuman strength – the back, glutes, hamstrings and abdominals. The posterior chain is essential for any physique goal, athletic performance goals that involve peak speed and/or power output, and lifestyle goals such as weight loss, body recomposition and general wellbeing. 

My clients know that all I focus on in their training for the first couple of years is building that posterior chain, because when it is strong, all goals can be reached much more easily. 

In order to optimize the strength of this posterior chain, he invented a lot of equipment, or exercises, to do just that, and these exercises have been re-created worldwide. For this post I am going to share those exercises that I use with my own clients, that are vital for female training success!

So with that said, here are a few things Louis Simmons contributed to the industry that you may not even know you have been benefiting from!

1. Box Squat

I use the box squat to teach women how to squat, as when you’re new, it is hard to get to that goal position we call ‘parallel’ – where the hips are horizontal to the knees at the bottom of the squat. The reason you can’t reach this position as a newbie is because you don’t have the strength in the posterior chain to stabilize the movement. 

When we use a box, you can learn to sit all the way back without worrying about falling down, as the box is there to ‘save’ you. If you fall, you just land in a seated position on the box. So if you haven’t tried this in your own training, and have trouble squatting to parallel, try this one out!

2. Glute-Hamstring Raise (GHR)

This is my absolute favourite exercise by Louis Simmons. I spent around one year working on this, as I had ZERO hamstring strength at the time. My goal with all of my clients is to have their posterior chain so strong that they can do this exercise without any problems at all. It takes around 12 months of great training and programming to reach this milestone and from there it’s just a matter of improving technique.

3. Belt Squat

The belt squat is a great way of lowering nervous system load, and avoiding putting repeated strain on the shoulders and spine, as in a belt squat the weight is loaded through the hips. You can do many exercises on the belt squat including marching for hip stability, roman-deadlifts or sumos for glute/hamstring development. Or, you can just squat!

It’s an amazing piece of equipment for anyone who experiences lower back pain during squats, or doesn’t’ yet have the shoulder or upper back mobility to hold a barbell across their back just yet.

4. Safety Bar Squat

This bar was created to lower the pressure on the shoulder joint, but it also loads the weight further towards the front of your body. I like using this bar interchangeably with my female clients as it is a great way to increase upper back and abdominal strength, as when you reach parallel, there is no bar to pull your traps/lats into so it’s all up to you and your back, and abdominals. 

It also allows you to stand more upright, like you can with a front squat, but without the pressure on your shoulders and traps supporting the barbell weight on your upper chest. 

Generally, females lift around 10% less with this bar as compared to a back squat, but the benefits carry over once you return to the standard barbell, as your abdominals and upper back will have adapted and become stronger.

5. Reverse Hyper

This machine is designed to overload the erector spinae, which are the muscles we call ‘pipes’ that run alongside your spine from the pelvis to the upper back. When you lift with a barbell, the spine is constantly being compressed, so this allows athletes to ‘decompress’ their spine and strengthen their erectors at the same time. 

For women who aren’t powerlifters, loading the erectors is not as important, as they load up with almost all lower body exercises when performed correctly. I generally prescribe it as a single leg exercise, or a slow-controlled movement for the glutes, lower and and hamstrings.

6. Inverse Curl

This is an amazing machine, although I have only seen one in a gym – Club Lime Phillip, in the ACT. It is like a reverse hamstring curl, where you are supported by a selected weight and can lower yourself down via your hamstrings, and ‘curl’ back up. It operates in reverse much like the assisted chin-up/dip machine, as the more weight you put on, the lighter it is. 

The nordic curl is a variation of this, though the inverse curl would act as a ‘training wheels’ version of the nordic curl as I don’t know many women who can control a nordic curl movement without assistance.

If you want to see more, check out my latest youtube video where I covered a little about Louis Simmons and his exercises in more detail!

Jen x






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