Hamstrings…You’re Doing it Wrong

John Durante Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Everyone wants big quads. They look cool in bike shorts and they are an excellent conversation starter. In terms of practicality and athletic performance, the posterior chain is king (Glutes, Hammies and hip flexors).

Nothing says power like a strong back side. This conglomerate of musculature has a lot of fast twitch muscle fibers in them and should be trained accordingly. Looking back at my progression as a trainer, I wish I emphasized a lot of this stuff sooner. Even with the abundance of knowledge at our disposal, it amazes me that trainers and coaches still neglect proper hamstring work or do very minimal or none at all….you do not have to look too hard into a trainers history to see their results with specific clients. If there is a lot of hip, hammy and lower back issues, it is time to hit the books and figure out what you are doing wrong.

Why Them?

Simply put, they improve your on field performance. They decelerate knee and hip flexion. They will help with no contact knee injury prevention and lower back integrity. Lastly, they help with both hip and knee stabilization…

What to do Instead

Deadlifts (all variations), olympic lifts, glute ham raises, lower back extensions…just to name a few. Squatting and other quad dominant work is important and should still be done. In my opinion, a majority of your lower body work should concentrate on the posterior chain. The ratio that I use for clients and athletes is 3 to 1 or about 75% of my lower body stuff is focused on the aforementioned areas…

What Are the Issues?

Athletes and general population do not know how to load their posterior chain effectively. We want to be able to communicate with our clients as to why and how targeting the muscles that cannot be seen can improve performance and quality of life.

We lean on glute/ham raises and slide pad work for effect. More specifically, we must understand and appreciate that the hamstring crosses at both the knee and hip. We want to be able to stress both portions of the hamstring for maximum effectiveness…Using our knowledge of simple levers, we are able to stress the hamstring proximal to distal quite effectively and the result will yield a more durable muscle. We commonly see only one portion of the hamstring being emphasized. An example of this would be a straight leg dead lift. We stress the hip portion of the hammy but not the distal portion crossing the knee…

There can be a cascade affect when it comes to the glute complex when certain things are not balanced. When someone has altered firing patterns in their lower half, we can see the hip flexors being overactive…this will reciprocally inhibit the glutes. Here is the cool part, when the glutes are not working properly during hip extension, this forces the lumbar spine and hammies to work much harder than they should.

A interesting way to see this imbalance in action is watching someone dead lift. If a client cannot properly tilt the pelvis, the lumbar spine will compensate. In other words, when someone is dead lifting and they cannot push their hips forward to achieve lockout, they will often over extend in their lower back to compensate. It is as if they skip order of operations in terms of muscles used to achieve a proper dead lift. This should instantly tell the trainer or “coach” that they are not using their glutes…

This is the knowledge base that keeps your clientele lifting for a long period of time. Being proactive instead of reactive is going to keep you in business longer and off of the radar of doctors in the area. It is dangerous to know what you do not know…especially in a health and fitness field where the barrier to entry is so thin…Being “insta” famous and charging people $500 for a program that does not take any detail into consideration will only get you so far. You have to take care of your members/clients…getting people hurt does not pay your bills.

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