Working the Hamstring
hamstrings are a muscle group located on the back of the upper leg and thigh.
The semimembranosus and semitendinosus are two hamstring muscles located on the
inside of the upper leg. The bicep femoris is a hamstring muscle located on the
outer back side of the upper back leg. Collectively, these three muscles make up
the hamstring muscles.
When it comes to such sports as
soccer, basketball and volleyball or those that require constant pivoting,
hamstring need an attention. Women often spend more time doing
bench presses and
leg extensions, which strengthen the quadriceps, and pay little attention to
working the hamstrings. Ideally, the hamstrings should lead the response in
fitness training, tightening first. Women tend to work on their quadriceps more
because they strengthen quickly. They think their legs are getting stronger, but
they are really not. They need to do activities that increase the quickness of
the hamstring response, in addition to exercises that build up the quadriceps.
It's simple -having stronger hamstrings will help you lift heavier weights on
leg press. Also the strength
in the hamstrings helps to maintain a full stride even when you are tiring
running, supporting the idea that strength can help
Analysis of muscle activity during
running action has shown that the hamstrings are most active during the second
half of the stance phase. This means they are working when the leg is extending
backwards at the hip, propelling the athlete forwards. Since hamstrings provide
an accelerating force at each push-off, stronger hamstrings should result in a
One hamstring exercise, which can highly benefit is the ‘hamstring
hip lift’, which can be performed as follows:
Lie on your back with your feet hip width apart and the soles of your feet on
an 18” bench or step.
Push down into the bench with your feet lifting your hips up high. You will
feel your hamstrings working. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds. Do not
lift your shoulders or neck off the floor and keep your upper back flat down.
Lower the hips back down until your bottom is just off the floor, then push
down into the bench again.
Continue for 15 repetitions, rest for 45 seconds, then complete two more sets.
Once you can do 3 x 15, progress
to one-legged hamstring hip lifts on the bench.
Start with 3 x 10 and build up
to 3 x 20.
Once you can do the one-leg lifts
on the bench, progress to using the Swiss ball.
Place two feet on the Swiss ball, as you did on the bench, and complete the
exercise using the same technique. The
instability of the ball automatically
makes it harder.
Build up to completing 3 sets of
20 reps of one-leg hamstring hip lifts on the Swiss ball. I recommend that all
good runners should be strong enough to do this.
Dated 29 November 2011