The hamstring or (hammy) is a very underappreciated muscle that a lot of athletes disregard, until the unfamiliar ping (strain) happens!
For a long time I’ve had my clients and athletes not only working on glute (hip) strength but also hamstring endurance, through various techniques and exercises designed to help limit the chances of hamstring strains or injuries happening during heavy training or competition situations. Here are my 4 favourite functional exercises to build hamstring strength.
1) Fitball kick- The ball kick obviously needs a second person to help perform the exercise. This is a great way to create a positive and negative effect on the hamstring. This is simulating many movements where you might be jumping and then recovering to perform the exercise again or kicking and sprinting quickly.
2) Fitball leg curl- The leg curl is a very isolated exercise when done correctly. A lot of people will have issues with over stimulation of their calves when doing this, which can be simply fixed by changing the position of your feet on the ball (ensure that when doing this you have a high hip position).
3) TRX split lunge- Split lunge allows a lot more upper hamstring and glute recruitment. Whilst ensuring a good vertical leg position and tracking for optimal running biomechanics. To get this exercise correctly ensure that your weight is distributed evenly between your grounded foot and the foot in the sling of the TRX. This exercise is simulating the gate (stride) as you run, particularly when you are in an over stretched position breaking into a sprint.
4) Skating lunge- Skating in my opinion is one of the all-time exercises for building leg stability and strength. This exercises mimics the movement (push) of skating, through the extension of the hip. This exercise could help you with torso position when going from a stopped or slow position to a fast sprint. This exercise should be done smoothly and with a kick into a “T” position.
These 4 exercises not only limit your risk of hamstring injury but will also improve performance and general fitness. These exercises work well as a post run/sprint/training (cardio) workout, as the body is already experiencing a little fatigue. I would suggest around 30 seconds each movement as a single exercise for around 3-4 sets.
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