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Hamstring imbalance
http://exrx.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=9630
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Author:  senorpancho [ Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Hamstring imbalance

I have an imbalance in my hamstrings that's been affecting squat & deadlift. The weaker leg (right) upper biceps femoris feels
tight, and fatigues quickly. This occurs at full squat or initial pull off the floor with my knees bent. My push isn't explosive off this leg. Neither is explosive under load, but this one especially. I feel I need to knee in momentarily. Or it feels as if I want to get on my right toe, even though I need to (should) stay on the heel. Toe flare helps. Keeping toes straight forward is something that definitely aggravates this.

Working on it with foam roller, two or three different stretches. This has "been there" for a long time, but just now it's starting to get my attention.

Insights?

Author:  Stephen Johnson [ Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Hamstring imbalance

@senorpancho:

Try doing one-legged deadlifts:



If one leg is noticeably weaker than the other, you have to incorporate unilateral (one legged) training in your routine until the weaker leg is brought up to par.

Author:  Khronos8 [ Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Hamstring imbalance

What if one leg is less "developed"?

I cant tell if one leg is weaker than another, but my left hamstring is visibly larger and more developed than the right. My right calf is also larger and more developed than my left one. While I'm far from being a "physique" athlete, the imbalance kinda bothers me and makes me worry that it may signal a strength imbalance that will cause injury further down the road.

I can do single leg DL with same weight on either side and don't notice any strength difference in Deadlift (605lb) or backsquat (550lb).

Any thoughts?

Author:  Stephen Johnson [ Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Hamstring imbalance

Khronos8 wrote:
Any thoughts?


Well, jealousy for one - you have me by 150# on my best deadlift and 165# on my best squat. Good job. :thumbright:

Other than that - do you run or climb stairs a lot? Some people favor one hamstring/calf combo when climbing stairs over another. A reach, I know, but it's the only thing that comes to mind right now

Author:  ironmaiden708 [ Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Hamstring imbalance

Could do hyperextensions using a 45 degree bench. 3 x 12, tempo 4-1-2. Should help with the fatigue over time. Helps when you keep the arch in your back through the entire exercise.

Author:  stuward [ Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Hamstring imbalance

I don't think you have a strength imbalance, although attempting to correct your size difference could create on. I think that an asymmetry on one side gives a mechanical advantage due to better insertion points or something, and then the other side compensates by getting bigger so your strength evens out. Most people have some asymmetry somewhere except the genetically gifted.

Author:  Khronos8 [ Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Hamstring imbalance

Thanks Stu (and Stephen). I'll recommence trying not to worry about it. No plans to try and "fix" it either. As long as I continue to not detect differences in strength...

Author:  senorpancho [ Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Hamstring imbalance

All: thanks for the advice/concern

ironmaiden: I can do more hyperextensions. If I'm targeting the hamstrings, I want the support low, at mid-thigh level just above the knee, right? What do you mean by tempo 4 1 2?

Khronos: You know, I have the same characteristic, probably not as pronounced. But I notice the calf difference.

Author:  ironmaiden708 [ Thu Mar 20, 2014 8:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Hamstring imbalance

The tempo means 4 second up on the concentric, 1 sec static hold at the top, and 2 seconds down on eccentric. This tempo will build up the stamina which you say you are lacking. Slow and steady sets.
http://exrx.net/WeightExercises/Hamstri ... nsion.html

When using the bench its important to position yourself so that you don't limit your range of motion, you don't want your abdomen to be digging into the pad. That'll prevent you from keeping an arch in your back through the ROM.

Author:  senorpancho [ Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Hamstring imbalance

@ Stephen Johnson re unilateral training.

I like your idea of doing unilateral. That is a good idea.

What's your advice for getting R and L leg from where they are (different in strength) to where they will perform the same? High reps? Lower intensity (the left is already at a lower intensity, the right is maxed)?

Author:  Stephen Johnson [ Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Hamstring imbalance

@senorpancho:

senorpancho wrote:
What's your advice for getting R and L leg from where they are (different in strength) to where they will perform the same? High reps? Lower intensity (the left is already at a lower intensity, the right is maxed)?


Keep in mind that the single-leg deadlift is an assistance exercise to bring your weaker hamstrings up. It is not a replacement for the squats and deadlifts, which should remain the foundations of your leg workout.

When doing squats/deadlifts, bring your poundage up to the level just before your weaker right leg starts to complain. Then do the single-leg deadlifts - start with low weight/higher reps, then add weight and lower reps as you get better with the exercise. This is an isolation exercise for the hamstrings, though - you aren't going to use anywhere near the weight you use for squats/deadlifts. Keep the poundages/reps the same for both legs. Over several weeks, see if there is any improvement in your right leg as you slowly add more weight to your squats/deadlifts.

But, like Stu said, some differences will always remain. As you increase your overall strength, the differences will matter less.

The tightness/weakness in your right hamstring suggests that it was injured sometime in the past. The foam roller is a great idea to get rid of knots in the muscle due to scar tissue. Keep it up.

Remember that the glutes, not the hamstrings, are the dominant hip extensor. Tight hip flexors can inhibit the glute's hip extension, forcing the hamstrings to work harder than they should. Formerly sedentary people getting involved in a serious leg exercise program find that there are a host of flexibility/stability issues (in the lower back, hips and thighs) that have to be resolved to make progress.

senorpancho wrote:
My push isn't explosive off this leg. Neither is explosive under load, but this one especially.


Once you get your right hamstring straightened out, you might want to add some speed/power training to your routine. Standard training doesn't increase explosiveness that much

Author:  senorpancho [ Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Hamstring imbalance

<<Remember that the glutes, not the hamstrings, are the dominant hip extensor. Tight hip flexors can inhibit the glute's hip extension, forcing the hamstrings to work harder than they should.>>

I am interested in this -- I don't know that I have the expertise here -- most exercises I do work both hamstrings and glutes at the same time. Examples of these being "back" extensions (low support so that the back is held stationary as opposed to high support so the spine moves), squats, deadlifts, RDLs, and swings. So there is always a possibility as you say my hamstrings are overtaxed, glutes under-contributing, and I need to look at psoas/rectus quad tightness (are there other hip flexors?) The only purely glute exercise I know is hip thrust off the floor (barbell over hips) I don't do that too much. It's an odd exercise.

Also as an aside, I have overtight/overactive adductors. That's the first thing I feel when I squat after a layoff, with the good ol' right hamstring. So already I have to stretch or adductors will shut me down.

So now we're into flexibility -- you're saying psoas might be a culprit? So I don't understand the linkeage, it seems tight psoas would make the butt work harder to keep the trunk erect, and the butt would be overtaxed. Would side splits be good for this? There is the good old tried and true "warrior pose", or kneeling warrior that all kids used to do in karate. There are so many stretches and variations of them that it boggles the mind.

Author:  stuward [ Sun Apr 06, 2014 2:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Hamstring imbalance

Tight psoas can cause anterior pelvic tilt, and since the glutes are the opposing muscles, they can be subject to Reciprocal Inhibition. The following article explains it somewhat.

http://stronglifts.com/the-psoas-is-it- ... your-back/

Author:  senorpancho [ Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Hamstring imbalance

All: Thanks for the help. This site is great for collected wisdom. I've been reading about this stuff (e.g. reciprocal inhibition from Contreras), stretching more more hyperextensions (like kids do pushups, 20 at a time, multiple times a day, good form), and unilateral hamstring work (weight now moving up). The shoe fits, I'm starting to wear it.

Author:  robertscott [ Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Hamstring imbalance

see if this helps. I've just started doing them and already can feel the benefit


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