It was good to meet you yesterday at Pro Fitness. I hope the
exercise video of the self-assisted
hamstring raise works out for your purposes. Your site has
expanded exponentially since the last time I used it! It has
a ton of information now that is extraordinarily useful. I think
it is a great shorthand overview of the training world. Not to
mention I am a huge fan of Dr.
Eric Serrano, and seeing him involved is great news to me.
It is extremely hard to distil the amount of information out
there into short useful tidbits. As I mentioned I have done a
large amount of research and reading on nutrition and training
over the last number of years, as well as applying it to my training
and those whose training I oversee, and those I train with--and
there are a few bits of information I read here that I recall,
but had to discover on my own or in conversations with coaches.
I'd like to offer a few tips on the "natural" (vs.
on a glute-ham
apparatus) ham raise you taped me doing. Hopefully they come
in handy for other people starting to use this exercise.
- Avoid pointing your toes away from your body--doing so will
likely induce large cramps in your calves.
- This is an advanced exercise that will likely require training
for some time to be good at--usually, though not always, people
start only able to do 2-3 reps on it, if any. It also usually
results in extremely painful DOMS if you are unused to doing
- When first experimenting with the exercise, do it last, or
near the end of your leg workout--this will ensure your hamstrings
are fully warmed up even though strength levels will be at their
lowest. Reason: the exercise creates an extremely powerful 'stretch'
in the hamstrings during the eccentric part of the lift. This
is one reason for the strong DOMS most people feel.
Therefore, when using the exercise for the very first time:
- Focus on controlling the eccentric portion as much as possible.
Lower yourself without help from your hands as far as you can
until you start to fall.
- Keep the hips pushed forward as far as possible for both
eccentric and concentric portions. This makes the motion harder,
but more useful. If your hips are allowed to stay back (creating
a "Z" looking body posture instead of an "L"
looking posture), the motion loses it's unique utility, aside
from becoming much too easy. It's meant to be very difficult.
The glutes are a stabilizer group, but almost never fully
utilized due to the mechanics of the movement, in contrast to
its involvement on the machine version of GHR,
where the glutes are activated dynamically. Nevertheless, try
to recruit the glutes as much as possible by keeping your hips
extended as far forward as possible.
Great meeting you as well. I certainly appreciate your enthusiasm
and interest in this field. I'm sure you can easily get your
weightlifting coaching certification you had mentioned since
you obviously made it through your masters degree in organic
Yes, Dr. Serrano, was a class mate during my undergrad studies
at KSU and later my roommate in KC while he attended medical
school at KU Med.
Here is the Hamstring
Raise on the Glute-Ham machine we currently have on ExRx.net.
I think the way you have devised this exercise with more commonly
available equipment is quite ingenious, particularly with self
It is interesting to note the influence of joint posture on the
biarticulate muscles involved in this movement, particularly
the hamstrings, sartorius, and gastrocnemious. The Glutes acting
as stabilizer, maintaining the extended posture of the hip. While
this posture not only provides a greater resistive force by the
way of a long lever arm length, it also places most of the hamstrings
in a biomechanical disadvantage. As the hamstrings
(See comments section) continue to contract at the knee, they
enter into active
insufficiency since they are already shortened through the
extended hip, or at least 3 of the 4 biarticulate heads, leaving
the short head of the biceps femoris, and other knee flexors
with the brunt of the work (if the hips are actually keep extended
throughout the movement). Interestingly, the sartorius
is actually a stronger knee flexor when the hip is extended.
The weakened hamstrings are arguably compensated when the resistance
vectors (bodyweight in this case) move from parallel to gravity
in the beginning of the exercises toward progressively perpendicular
to gravity (not against gravity) nearing the top of the motion
as they move into active insufficiency. Incidentally, it is actually
necessary for the ankle to be dorsal flexed for the gastrocnemous
(See comments section) to fully assist in knee flexion, in this
case, avoiding active insufficiency.
By the way, you can keep track of periodic site updates on
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care to check back from time to time. Alternatively, you may
also sign up for our site update notifications on our home page.
I wish the best of luck in your strength sports.
Update: In Dec 2013 we added the Self-assisted
Hamstring Raise, performed on a Glute-Ham Raise Aperatus.