Legs are a track athlete's musical instrument. To keep them finely tuned, you need to condition your hamstrings. Randy Hadley, U.S. Olympic T&F strength and conditioning coach, explains the importance of conditioning your 'strings for competition and offers an exercise to test them.
"The biggest area of concern for any track athlete is above the knee and below the rib cage," says Hadley, who for the past four years has been helping to develop 110m hurdler David Oliver from two-time NCAA All American into '08 Olympic bronze medalist. Contributing to this success are conditioning drills like the Seated Hamstring Curl Hold. "With the Hamstring Hold, we're trying to stabilize the hamstring without creating stress on the muscle. It's very much like a prehab exercise," says Hadley, who believes the following test helps prevent hamstring tears.
• Load five pounds on seated hamstring curl machine; sit down
• Using eight-second count, slowly contract right hamstring
• Once you reach full contraction, hold for eight-count
• Using eight-count, slowly release from hold and extend to start position Full 24-second movement is one rep
Adaptation: Exercise also works on a prone (lie-down) hamstring curl machine
Sets/Reps: 3x8 with each leg
Benefits: Conditions hammies for running, jumping and strengthening exercises // Prevents tears and pulls
Coaching Points: Always use slow, controlled fluid motion // Don't squeeze or strain on the hold. Instead engage the muscle, then slowly release // Perform with one leg at a time // Don't overload the weight; find a comfortable starting weight, then slowly progress // Always use a full extension and full contraction
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock