Training for Ham Strength

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    Training for Ham Strength


    Here is my dilemma.

    My knees are giving me a bit of trouble, so much so that even walking on a treadmill is now out of the question (unless I want to have knee pain for days).

    I was informally discussing this quandry with a gym acquaintance of mine who happens to be a physical therapist. He was going through some possible causes of the knee discomfort that I am feeling, and the most likely cause of my knee pain is the difference in strength between my quads and hams.

    My quads are very strong, and they get a thorough workout on leg day. However, I really only train hamstrings as an afterthought. I typically will do three or so sets of seated leg curls at the end of my leg workout and call it a day. My hams look decent enough, so I never really worried about it, but now it appears as though I have to correct this imbalance.

    All the gym has is a seated leg curl machine, and since this is a "fitness oriented establishment" none of the machines have any impressive weights on the rack. The only movement that I know to do other than these seated leg curls would be stiff leg dead lifts. I am generally reluctant to do this movement because I train my entire leg on the same day, and I don't know how wise it would be to do squats and deadlifts during the same workout. I also tend to enjoy regular deadlifts, and do those on back day (which is a very taxing workout, and I don't want to add hams in on that day).

    So what do the gurus here at AM think? Do you guys know of any bodyweight exercises or dumbbell movements that I can incorporate to get these hams up to speed?

    Any and all advice is appreciated.

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    You do not want to be doing leg curls. You want to strengthen your entire posterior chain. It will create more strength. Pullthroughs, Dimmel and Romanian deadlift, Stiff leg deadlifts, 45 degree hypers, Goodmornings, the list goes on and on. Most gym goers have a pretty week posterior chain in regards to their quads. It is usually not just thier hams.

    If your lucky enough to have them the reverse hyper and glute ham raise are ideal.
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    Also, make sure you stretch adequately. If you don't stretch all of your leg properly, the muscle imbalances will tighten and shorten the muscles and lead to unnatural pulling on one side of your joints. Get your PT to show you some exercises for increasing flexibility as well.

    My buddy has rediculously tight hams and can barely squat correctly b/c of it. He doesn't stretch like he should. Also my wife had problems with her knees a few years ago b/c she wore high heels all the time. I know you don't, but her calf was in a flexed position 10 hous a day or more, so her calves and achillies tightened up big time. Had to have some therapy to loosen them up again.
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    Dont worry too much about doing squats and stiff deads together. As long as you squat correctly you should have no problem with doing them together. When doing stifflegs make sure ur form is perfect and completely isolate ur hams.Most people cant do stiff legs to save their life and end up incorporating lower back and who knows wat else. Make sure you stick ur butt out and rock back a lil on ur heels lower the weight till you feel the pull in ur hams then come back up using all hams. If you do them right ur hams should get massive. As far as reg deads just space back and legs out enough to recover and you should be golden. Hope this helps
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rah22491 View Post
    Dont worry too much about doing squats and stiff deads together. As long as you squat correctly you should have no problem with doing them together. When doing stifflegs make sure ur form is perfect and completely isolate ur hams.Most people cant do stiff legs to save their life and end up incorporating lower back and who knows wat else. Make sure you stick ur butt out and rock back a lil on ur heels lower the weight till you feel the pull in ur hams then come back up using all hams. If you do them right ur hams should get massive. As far as reg deads just space back and legs out enough to recover and you should be golden. Hope this helps
    It is impossible to perform a 'stiff-legged' dead lift without activation of the erector spinae, gluteal muscles, etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by russy_russ View Post
    It is impossible to perform a 'stiff-legged' dead lift without activation of the erector spinae, gluteal muscles, etc.
    Sure, but what he is talking about is almost a hybrid SLDL and a Romanian. It is how i do them. When performed like that the tension is on the hamstrings much more so than if the bar was out in front more.
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    Thanks for the replies, I appreciate the feedback.

    I am going to incorporate Rah's stiff leg suggestion for right now, and see how that works out.

    I will let you guys know how this goes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by russy_russ View Post
    It is impossible to perform a 'stiff-legged' dead lift without activation of the erector spinae, gluteal muscles, etc.
    sure its possible but unlikely considering the terrible form most have with stiffs. U really have to get a good mind muscle connection if you really want to target the ham with the exercise.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rah22491 View Post
    sure its possible but unlikely considering the terrible form most have with stiffs. U really have to get a good mind muscle connection if you really want to target the ham with the exercise.
    No, it's not. You cannot selectively hyperpolarize a motor neuron to 'deactivate' its muscle fibers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by russy_russ View Post
    No, it's not. You cannot selectively hyperpolarize a motor neuron to 'deactivate' its muscle fibers.
    aite well i just know when i do stiff legged deads i dont have any lower back issues. When i do them its complete isolation of the hams. sure you want the gluteal muscles involved since this exercise is going to hit the hamstring glute tie in. I kno wat works for me. Others may have trouble feeling it so they should just find wat works for them. Everybody is different
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rah22491 View Post
    aite well i just know when i do stiff legged deads i dont have any lower back issues. When i do them its complete isolation of the hams. sure you want the gluteal muscles involved since this exercise is going to hit the hamstring glute tie in. I kno wat works for me. Others may have trouble feeling it so they should just find wat works for them. Everybody is different
    Quoting what you said, you do not know the mechanics of the movement. I'll simply say it again, it's impossible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by russy_russ View Post
    No, it's not. You cannot selectively hyperpolarize a motor neuron to 'deactivate' its muscle fibers.
    Why do some people have a problem activating their back when they do pulling movements, and some have a problem activating their pecs when they do bench presses. Dave Tate had to spend months learing to activate his glutes again. I am not disagreeing with you, i am just curious as to your response.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcp2 View Post
    Why do some people have a problem activating their back when they do pulling movements, and some have a problem activating their pecs when they do bench presses. Dave Tate had to spend months learing to activate his glutes again. I am not disagreeing with you, i am just curious as to your response.
    Typically, that can happen from neural damage--through various mechanisms. However, if you study the mechanics of human movement--biomechanics, you will understand this. Changing the mechanics of the movement: i.e postural position, leg position, joint angle, etc. different motor units will become activated. Example: incline chest press over flat will recruit more motor units in the anterior deltoid and motor units in the pectoralis major are still activated--to a lesser degree. No matter, the erector spinae will become activated during a 'stiff-legged' dead lift in a normal, neuromuscular healthy person.
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    Quote Originally Posted by russy_russ View Post
    It is impossible to perform a 'stiff-legged' dead lift without activation of the erector spinae, gluteal muscles, etc.
    I think the point he is making is that yes, you are correct, so you don't have to keep repeating yourself. Activating a muscle, and targeting it so that the full amount of work is being done by a specific muscle is two different things. Just like others have said, if you keep your back flat, or slight arch, and "push your hips back in order to lower the weight" instead of "breaking at the waist and bending over", you will target the hams much more directly with LESS, not complete absence of neurol firing, work being done by the erector spinae. No one is arguing that the lower back and glutes aren't being used, like you want to argue.

    To lower the weight, push your hips back as you go down and feel the hams stretch. Go as far as the stretch will allow, keeping your back flat and tight(activating erector spinae muscles). To come up, push your hips forward reversing direction as you come up, and squeeze your cheeks like you are trying to hold one in because you are about 100 feet from the throne and have explosive diarhea. This will "TARGET" your hams much more than your back.

    If you just break at the waist and bend over to lower the weight, then just raise back up, with your hips in virtually the same plane, this will "TARGET" your ERECTOR SPINAE much more than the hams.

    It just seems like you enjoy arguing over semantics and simple wording as opposed to discussing differences of opinion, theory, principles, etc. We all know you are always right by now, so save yourself some mental energy. Say your piece, which is helpful and educated, since you do give backup to what you say. That part I am sincere about. But you seem to go on and on over semantics and wording or phraseology, and that just makes people mad and resent you.

    You do have useful and helpful knowledge, and I do appreciate that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by youngandfree View Post
    I think the point he is making is that yes, you are correct, so you don't have to keep repeating yourself. Activating a muscle, and targeting it so that the full amount of work is being done by a specific muscle is two different things. Just like others have said, if you keep your back flat, or slight arch, and "push your hips back in order to lower the weight" instead of "breaking at the waist and bending over", you will target the hams much more directly with LESS, not complete absence of neurol firing, work being done by the erector spinae. No one is arguing that the lower back and glutes aren't being used, like you want to argue.

    To lower the weight, push your hips back as you go down and feel the hams stretch. Go as far as the stretch will allow, keeping your back flat and tight(activating erector spinae muscles). To come up, push your hips forward reversing direction as you come up, and squeeze your cheeks like you are trying to hold one in because you are about 100 feet from the throne and have explosive diarhea. This will "TARGET" your hams much more than your back.

    If you just break at the waist and bend over to lower the weight, then just raise back up, with your hips in virtually the same plane, this will "TARGET" your ERECTOR SPINAE much more than the hams.

    It just seems like you enjoy arguing over semantics and simple wording as opposed to discussing differences of opinion, theory, principles, etc. We all know you are always right by now, so save yourself some mental energy. Say your piece, which is helpful and educated, since you do give backup to what you say. That part I am sincere about. But you seem to go on and on over semantics and wording or phraseology, and that just makes people mad and resent you.

    You do have useful and helpful knowledge, and I do appreciate that.

    Thank you... im glad somebody gets wat im saying
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rah22491 View Post
    Thank you... im glad somebody gets wat im saying
    No. There is an abundance of bad information spreading around the forums, which is to be expected. I'm simply trying to correct some of the bad information so that other forum members do not have to rely on that. No offense to anyone personally.
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    I recommend ham curls, back extensions, romanian deadlifts and good mornings. Also play around with foot positioning on the leg press. Feet up higher and a bit wider to work the hams and glutes. Be careful lowering that your butt stays down and does NOT roll as you lower weight.
  

  
 

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