Extreme Hamsrtings: High Tension Hamstring Training by Erik Minor

  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.


Hamstring injuries are common among sprinters. One of the biggest challenges that I face as a strength coach is helping an athlete overcome a hamstring injury and at the same time improving performance. I currently train Darvis Patton, 2008 Beijing Olympic 100-meter finalist, and Leonard Scott, 2006 Indoor World Champion 60-meter sprint. Both of these athletes have experienced serious hamstring injuries. The following information will shed some light on my techniques and protocols for building bullet-proof hamstrings.

Anatomy of a hamstring injury

You must first understand the function of the hamstring and where the most stress is placed on the hamstring in order to correct and prevent injury. The hamstrings are a group of three posterior thigh muscles responsible for knee flexion and hip extension. During high-speed sprints, the hamstrings’ main role is to rein hip flexion and initiate hip extension.

Most hamstring injuries occur during the powerful eccentric contraction of the late swing phase.

This is when the front thigh is almost parallel to the ground during high speed sprinting. There is tremendous stress on the hamstring at this phase between the eccentric and concentric contraction.

So, my philosophy is to increase the strength of a muscle where it is the most vulnerable. This idea is called accentuation, and I first read about this in Vladimir Zatsiorsky’s book, Science and Practice of Strength Training.

The problem with most hamstring training programs is the emphasis on concentric dominant exercises. As you may know, we are stronger eccentrically than concentrically, so most concentric dominant exercises don’t place enough load on the hamstrings to prevent injury. The emphasis on concentric training is due to, in my opinion, an overemphasis on rate-of-force development.

The following exercises, which are staples for most sprinters, are what I consider concentric dominant exercises. Those exercises are power cleans, power snatches, and box jumps. These concentric dominant, explosive exercises are ineffective at preventing hamstring injury due to the lack of eccentric stress. You may be thinking, what about explosive exercises? You must train fast to be fast, right? Nope.

In my opinion, sprinting is by far the most effective explosive/plyometric exercise for sprinters. There is no gym exercise that can duplicate the speed of limb movement during a full out sprint. My primary goal for all my sprint athletes is to prevent injury by addressing muscular weakness and imbalances and improving performance by increasing maximal relative strength.

Word of caution

This article is not intended to address biomechanical issues (posture, pelvic tilt, etc.) or acute injuries. Structural issues should be addressed by a qualified professional prior to implementing a maximal strength program.

The following exercises are not intended for beginners or novice trainees. These exercises place a tremendous amount of stress on the hamstrings in the stretched position.

Operating principles

  1. Resistance training should be performed after morning sprint sessions. My athletes typically do their track workout at 10:00 am followed by lunch at noon and then resistance training at 2:00 pm.
  2. Heavy hamstring work should be performed before an off day. This is of vital importance as the season gets closer. Sprinters should always do track speed work on fresh legs.
  3. The hamstrings require intense, high tension work to make a difference. Light training will do nothing for improving sprint performance.
  4. Listen to your body. Adjust volume as necessary but never decrease intensity below an eight rep max for most hamstring exercises.
  5. Never sacrifice good form for heavier loading.
  6. Use high intensity, moderate to high volume during the off-season and high intensity, low volume during competition periods. Low intensity (eight or more reps) is of minimal value to fast-twitch athletes such as sprinters.

The following exercises are advanced movements for pain-free, post-rehabilitation athletes.

Trap bar deadlift: This exercise is one of my favorite exercises. It is a tremendous posterior chain exercise and is easier to teach than the standard deadlift.

Keep the arms perpendicular to the ground and the shoulders a few inches in front of your knees.  

Drive with the legs. Don’t let the hips rise before the shoulders. Lower the weight to the floor on each repetition. Do not bounce the weight on the floor.

Caption: Figure 1, Leonard Scott

Modified Bulgarian split squat with emphasis on the hamstring: This exercise is similar to a basic rear leg elevated split squat. The only difference is the front shin remains almost perpendicular and the torso comes in contact with the thigh during the eccentric phase of the exercise. This is a very effective single leg hamstring exercise.

Figure 2, Darvis “Doc” Patton

Modified Romanian deadlift, eccentric enhanced: Perform a standard bent-knee deadlift for the concentric phase. Perform a Romanian deadlift for the eccentric phase. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise. Lower the weight to the floor on each repetition. Typically, most athletes can deadlift more weight than they can Romanian deadlift. This allows for significant overload of the hamstrings. We use either the trap bar or a straight barbell for this exercise.

Glute hamstring raise, advanced with eccentric overload: This is by far the most challenging hamstring exercise I’ve ever used. Proper positioning of the legs is vital to experience optimal results. Your knees should be on top of the pad with the shins horizontal to the floor. Perform the concentric phase of the glute hamstring raise without a load. Then, have a partner hand you a dumbbell or kettlebell and perform a slow (minimum three seconds), controlled, eccentric contraction. Place the weight on the floor and repeat for the desired number of repetitions. We do no more than six reps for this exercise.

Caption: Figure 3, Glute hamstring raise

Reverse hip extension, single leg: This exercise requires the use of an Atlantis or PowerLift reverse hyper machine. Position yourself on the machine as directed. Place the trailing leg on a plyobox or high step. Position the pad so that you can keep the knee slightly bent. Perform partial reps maintaining tension on the hamstring.

Caption: Figure 4, Leonard Scott

The following leg routines were designed for 2008 Beijing Olympics 100-meter finalist Darvis “Doc” Patton. These routines were used during the 2008 off-season.

Legs #1, Tuesday
Order Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest
A Trap bar

Weight sequence: 315, 335, 355–375

4 3 31 X 1 3 minutes
B Modified Bulgarian split squat with dumbbells

Weight sequence: 65, 70, 75–80

3–4 4–6 per leg 30 X 1 90 seconds per leg
C1 Hip flexion, cable

Weight sequence: 70, 80–90

3 8–10   90 seconds
C2 Reverse hip extension, one leg alternating

Weight sequence: 90, 100–125

3 6–8 per leg   2 minutes
Legs #2, Friday
Order Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest Int.
A Modified Romanian deadlift 3–4 3 31 X 1 3 minutes
B Split squat, barbell 2–3 4–6 per leg 20 X 1 3 minutes
C1 Glute hamstring raise, advanced 3–4 4–6 30 X 1 2 minutes

 

C2 Hanging leg raise 3–4 8–10   2 minutes

Repeat each routine 4–6 times before changing exercises and protocols. The duration of the routines depends on progress. If you are still increasing the load after four weeks, continue the routine for another two weeks.

Darvis “Doc” Patton improved his 100-meter sprint time from 10.11 seconds in 2007 to 9.89 seconds in 2008.

Erick Minor has been a full-time strength coach and personal trainer since 1997 and a certified sports massage therapist since 1996. He has worked as a strength coach and sports massage therapist in clinical (chiropractic) and commercial settings. He is currently the owner of Dynamic Barbell Club (www.dynamicbarbell.com), a private sports performance and personal training gym located in Fort Worth, Texas. Erick has personally trained hundreds of individuals seeking improved sports performance or aesthetic enhancement. Also, he currently trains professional athletes from the MLB and track and field. As an athlete, Erick has competed since 1992 in powerlifting and bodybuilding. Recently (2007), he competed in Strongman.

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at www.EliteFTS.com.

 




Copyright© 1998-2009 Elite Fitness Systems. All rights reserved.
You may reproduce this article by including this copyright
and, if reproducing it electronically, including a link to
www.Elitefts.com

Submitted by DMorgan on Fri, 04/24/2009 - 12:01pm.

| Related Articles