November 15, 2012 | Dr. Raymond Tucker
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From sprinting to jumping, the hamstrings are among the most powerful muscles you have as a track athlete. They are responsible for transferring power between the knees and the hips, propelling your forward momentum and controlling your athletic performance. (See also Get Faster and Prevent Injury With 3 Hamstring Exercises.)
However, the hamstring muscles are susceptible to a number of common problems, such as being stretched too far after an improper warm-up and muscular imbalances in relation to the quadriceps.
These factors make it important to select hamstring exercises that offer strengthening in hip extension and knee flexion. The following two hamstring exercises do the trick. Try performing them and watch your numbers on the track improve.
Glute Hamstring Raise
This hamstring exercise calls for a partner, but it can be performed without one by positioning your heels under a bar or brace and placing a Bosu ball in front of your knees to assist with the concentric phase. (See it in action: Exercise of the Week: Glute Ham Raise.)
Using a slow progression, go down as far as you can and return to the starting position. Work up to three sets of eight reps.
- Kneel on mat or piece of foam
- Partner behind you holds your feet down
- Keep back straight and arms at sides
- Keeping back extended and knees on mat, move torso forward slowly
- Try to touch your chest to the ground (eccentric)
- Use arms to push yourself back up (concentric)
Stability Ball Hamstring Curls
Perform Glute Hamstring Raises in one of your lower-body workouts and Stability Ball Hamstring Curls on your next lower-body day—or select one and perform it once a week. (See it in Action: Pitcher Strength and Speed Training With Craig Kimbrel.)
Using a slow progression, curl the ball as far as you can and return to the starting position. Work up to three sets of eight reps.
- Lie on ground with arms out to sides and palms down
- Place ball under heels with legs extended
- Head, shoulders and arms should be on ground; hips should be up in the air
- Maintain good posture with no sag in hips
- Flex knees by using heels in a curling motion to roll ball as far back as possible, keeping hips high
- Return to starting position by extending knees
Looking for more hamstring exercises? Check out STACK's Lower-Body Workout Guide.