Targeting different parts of your HAMSTRING

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KeepOnRunnin
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Targeting different parts of your HAMSTRING

Post by KeepOnRunnin » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:09 pm

I do other sports other than bodybuilding that involve running. Whenever I do stiff-leg deadlifts, I can barely walk the next day due to the intense stretch I get from them. Instead I do hamstring curls (target lower hamstrings) and long lunges past 90 degrees (target upper hamstrings). Can I evenly balance out my hamstrings with those two exercises? Are there are other exercises you can recommend that involve weights, so I can keep moving up and putting on muscle? I know of exercises like hamstring pushups and hyperextensions, but I feel like those aren't building as much muscle as the others since I can only uses bodyweight or the weight limit of what my other back muscles can handle with hyperextensions.

- Thank you for your help!


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Post by Nevage » Wed Aug 25, 2010 2:48 pm

How about good mornings? Similar to SLDL but you do the eccentric first. If I was you I'd carry on, eventually the pain will go away. I always hurt more when I have less sleep/food. Make sure you're eating enough protein and getting enough sleep.

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Post by ApolytonGP » Wed Aug 25, 2010 3:32 pm

Kinda depends on your priorities. You're getting a lot of benefit from the hamstring curls, so you could just blow off the stiffies. Also, some glute-ham raises will give some aspect of hamstring work at the hip joint (yes back limited, but so are stiffies, really).

You could do the bent knee cable flexions (it;s mostly hip flexor, but there is some hamstring also). I do it. Exrx has a write up.

I think technically all 4 muscles are involved in the hasmtring curl movement (and both heads of that one muscle). So is your gastroc, though. the SLDL would take that one part of that one muscle out, but otherwise hit all the hamstrings. Would take the gastroc out. And would put some glutes in. Lyle was asked on a forum thread and said he thought there was no reason that hamstring curls alone would not give hypertorophy (not optimal, per se, but still works.)

You could also just not go down as far on the SLDL and/or do them more bent leg. This may target more of the work at the glutes, but hamstrings will still do some work. Then you can just do normal static stretching for the hamstring (non loaded). Probably a safer, more controlled way to decide how much to stretch them, than what you do in tehcnical. loaded movedment.

Lyle has good articles on the RDL/SLDL and one back/hip extensions. Maybe worth a read to see if anything helps you.

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Post by Jungledoc » Wed Aug 25, 2010 4:15 pm

How often do you do the stiff-legs? If you're not doing them regularly, then of course you'll be sore when you do. Are you overdoing it on the loading?

Do you do conventional DL? Squat? Any single-leg work other than the lunges?

The concept of "upper" and "lower" hamstrings has never made sense to me.

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Post by Ricky » Wed Aug 25, 2010 5:23 pm

Jungledoc wrote:The concept of "upper" and "lower" hamstrings has never made sense to me.
I don't think there really are, but if your'e trying to work it from different angles something like the glute-ham raises would be the right idea since you're basically doing the opposite movement as the curl.

Personally, I just do curls/squats/deadlifts.


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Post by KeepOnRunnin » Wed Aug 25, 2010 5:29 pm

Nevage - Good mornings are definitely something I would never try, especially since the weight to it is limited and if something goes wrong, then so does my back for sure. Sleep/food I definitely have down, just might be over doing it.

ApolytonGP - I was just looking at the knee cable flexions this morning. I'm going to incorporate that now. I'm not using all that much weight on the SLDL, it just does a strong stretch. I only go down as far as the knees. I haven't tried it with bent knees so that might actually help. When I do the SLDL too, the next day I'm not as much sore as I feel like I've overstretched them (I am able wrap my fingers around my feet when doing regular stretches).

Jungledoc - I've once done them each week for around 6-8 weeks and the pain was always there the next few days. Could I just have shorter hamstrings? I use to do DL as well, but there was just too much back pain involved and I've had trainers look at my form and they said there was nothing wrong, so I just took those out of my routine. I do bar squats, long lunges, lateral lunges, two leg ham curls and throw in one leg ham curls and one leg squats every now and then. When I do SLDL only my upper hamstrings feel stretched the next day. When I'm doing ham curls I mostly feel the work being done closer to the back of my knee, which makes me think if I only do ham curls its going all to that one area. Than again I read an article that said lunges longer than 90 degrees put more focus on the upper hamstrings and I do feel it a bit there, but wasn't sure if that was targeting the glutes more than the hams and wouldn't make up for the balance.

Ricky - I never tried glute/ham raises cause I work out alone, but my new gym I'm going has a rack for them, so I'll see what I feel with that exercise.

Thanks again for the help everyone

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Post by Jungledoc » Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:47 pm

Good mornings are a good exercise--don't be afraid to try them.

From several things you say, I wonder if you have a tendency to load up the weight too fast on things. If you do DLs with good form and you don't have any pre-existing injury, and you do them regularly, you shouldn't have any more than mild muscle soreness the first time or two you do them, unless you're lifting too heavy. Same with good mornings and SLDL Unless, of course, you're doing a lot of goofy lumbar spine stretching in between.

You talk about wrapping your hands around your feet when you do your stretches. Very few people can do that with a simple hamstring stretch, UNLESS you're rounding your back to do it. If you are doing that, and then doing heavy back exercises, of course you have pain. Don't stretch anything that doesn't need stretched. There is no value in just stretching everything. And the lumbar spine is NOT something that needs to be stretched. It's function in life is stability, not mobility. The hips and the thoracic spine need more mobility in most people, but not the lumbar spine. Everything you do to it adds up. Read some of Stuart McGill's work--he's probably the world's leading authority on spine physiology. He believes that every spine has a finite number of flexion/extension cycles before discs start giving out. Don't waste your allotted cycles on pointless stretching. And don't do rotational stretches or weighted exercises for the l-spine, either.

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Post by caangelxox » Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:11 am

Read this article by the glute guy http://bretcontreras.wordpress.com/2010 ... e-secrets/ and he tells you down half way through the article what the peak or highest activation is for each bodyweight exercise for glute medius, upper glute, middle glute, lower glute.

Hamstrings are apart of the glutes and they work together. People who pull their hamstrings have strong hamstrings, but weak glutes due to all these machine exercises like leg curls. so the glutes must be activated in every hamstring exercise that is done or there will be back pain and pulls

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Re: Targeting different parts of your HAMSTRING

Post by Stephen Johnson » Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:52 am

KeepOnRunnin wrote:I do other sports other than bodybuilding that involve running. Whenever I do stiff-leg deadlifts, I can barely walk the next day due to the intense stretch I get from them


Running tends to promote tightness in the hamstrings. As another commenter said earlier, don't go so deep. If greater range of motion is your goal, do it gradually.
KeepOnRunnin wrote:Instead I do hamstring curls (target lower hamstrings) and long lunges past 90 degrees (target upper hamstrings). Can I evenly balance out my hamstrings with those two exercises?
The hamstrings are a biarticulate muscle, which is a fancy way of saying that it has two joint functions: hip extension andknee flexion. Leg curls work knee flexion while lunges work hip extension. If you work these two functions, your hamstrings will get a good workout.

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Post by Jungledoc » Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:55 am

caangelxox wrote:Read this article by the glute guy http://bretcontreras.wordpress.com/2010 ... e-secrets/ and he tells you down half way through the article what the peak or highest activation is for each bodyweight exercise for glute medius, upper glute, middle glute, lower glute.

Hamstrings are apart of the glutes and they work together. People who pull their hamstrings have strong hamstrings, but weak glutes due to all these machine exercises like leg curls. so the glutes must be activated in every hamstring exercise that is done or there will be back pain and pulls
Well....

Hamstrings are not a part of the glutes, but yes, they do often work together. That is a bit of oversimplification of hamstring pulls. Sprinters sometimes pull their hams, but they don't usually lack in the glute department.

And there are 4 glutes now? Have g-med and g-min been renamed? Even so, 4 is too many for my tastes.

And most articles by Bret Contraras are well worth reading, studying and applying.

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Post by KeepOnRunnin » Thu Aug 26, 2010 4:19 pm

Jungledoc - The thing about SLDL is that I've done them with 8x100lbs with both legs and 20x10lbs single and I still get the same type of pain the next day.
I wouldn't mind good mornings, I just don't always have someone to spot me and I don't want to lose form the last rep if I can't finish it for some reason that time.
I do round my back when I just stretch my hamstrings on the ground, but definitely not when I do SLDL, I only go as far as a couple inches above my knees, otherwise I start to round. I'll look into his work, but your saying stretches like a seated pretzel or lying one aren't a good idea?

Caangelxox - Good point. Come to think of it, I am neglecting the glutes a bit because of certain exercises like ham curls.

The hamstrings are a biarticulate muscle, which is a fancy way of saying that it has two joint functions: hip extension and knee flexion. Leg curls work knee flexion while lunges work hip extension. If you work these two functions, your hamstrings will get a good workout.
Thanks, that's what I wanted to make sure. If I can do those two areas with those two exercises, I don't see the need to do SLDL if their too much on my hamstrings.

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Post by Jungledoc » Thu Aug 26, 2010 4:34 pm

KeepOnRunnin wrote: but your saying stretches like a seated pretzel or lying one aren't a good idea?
I'm not sure that I know what that is, but it doesn't sound good to me.

You should avoid any stretching into extension or flexion or rotation, and any loaded exercise that involves any of those movements.

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Post by KeepOnRunnin » Thu Aug 26, 2010 5:12 pm

You should avoid any stretching into extension or flexion or rotation, and any loaded exercise that involves any of those movements.
So your saying it could do more harm than good to do stretches like the 3 positions of a cat stretch and the pretzel one (I got the name from this site, its just putting one leg over the other in the seated position and twisting). I guess I'll understand this once I read up on McGill.

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Post by Stephen Johnson » Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:26 pm

Jungledoc wrote:And there are 4 glutes now? .
I have two cheeks. I must be [email protected]$$ed. :wink:
caangelxox wrote:. People who pull their hamstrings have strong hamstrings, but weak glutes
Actually, most hamstring pulls are due to either weak hamstrings (relative to the quads) or tight hip flexors (which inhibit the hip flexing action of the glutes, forcing the hamstrings to work harder). Or that's what I read somewhere once. Hamstring pulls are common in athletes despite their well-developed glutes (just ask their groupies :wink:).

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Post by Jungledoc » Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:41 pm

KeepOnRunnin wrote:
You should avoid any stretching into extension or flexion or rotation, and any loaded exercise that involves any of those movements.
So your saying it could do more harm than good to do stretches like the 3 positions of a cat stretch and the pretzel one (I got the name from this site, its just putting one leg over the other in the seated position and twisting). I guess I'll understand this once I read up on McGill.
I'm saying that it will more harm than good to do any stretching into extension or flexion or rotation. If I could think of a way to say it more clearly, I would. I don't know the names of stretches you mention, but they don't sound good to me.

Think about the function of the "core muscles" (i.e. those that control and support the lumbar spine). It is not to move, but to protect the lumbar spine from excess movement. You don't want those muscles long and loose! You want them strong and tight. When a football player takes a hit, or when a grappler goes to the floor, or when somebody hands an elderly lady a bag of heavy groceries, those muscles are there to protect the spine from excess movement. Stretching them is just working against their most important function.

There's an "every-other joint rule" that is now very widely accepted, that says that the ankles need mobility, the knees stability, hips mobility, l-spine stability, t-spine and shoulders mobility, c-spine (neck) stability.

Again, what is there in your back that NEEDS to be stretched? Yes, stretches where prescribed in the past for people who suffered from back pain, but the real experts no longer recommend that. Those recommendations were just based on the blind assumption that if it feels tight it must need to be stretched. Wrong. It needs to be held in proper alignment, and the best way to do that is with good posture, and strong muscles that are not stretched beyond their correct range of motion.


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