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    Are hamstrings overrated in sports movements?

    I am a soccer player and I’ve been doing weight training for years now. I tried lots of different exercises and I stick with the ones that help me most. right now I am doing Lunges and Hip Thrusts for legs, which help me a lot: lunges (I feel stronger, I shoot harder and have a faster first step and change of direction) and Hip Thrust (greater posture, stronger Glutes and better acceleration). And I used to do Stiff leg deadlift for hamstrings but never felt any improvements by doing them or any other kind of deadlift. In terms of injury prevention, hip thrust make me more Glute dominant while sprinting. So...
    Is it possible that hamstrings are not that important as long as Glutes are strong?
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    Registered User Heisman2's Avatar
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    Hamstrings are definitely important for sprinting. Training them can increase strength which can be transferred to faster sprinting and training them can also help prevent injury. Weight room lifts such as lunges and hip thrusts are not going to make a significant difference in sprinting speed alone; incorporating other training modalities closer to the speed side of the strength-speed continuum will help you transfer the new strength to sprinting speed. Examples include hang power cleans/snatches, jump squats, plyometrics, and actual sprint work.

    Consider doing glute ham raises or nordic leg curls.
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    Weak and foolish OldFartTom's Avatar
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    So many football (soccer) players get hamstring injuries. Maybe.. just maybe... having strong ones could be helpful in some way?
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    Registered User Alexlarex's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Heisman2 View Post
    Hamstrings are definitely important for sprinting. Training them can increase strength which can be transferred to faster sprinting and training them can also help prevent injury. Weight room lifts such as lunges and hip thrusts are not going to make a significant difference in sprinting speed alone; incorporating other training modalities closer to the speed side of the strength-speed continuum will help you transfer the new strength to sprinting speed. Examples include hang power cleans/snatches, jump squats, plyometrics, and actual sprint work.

    Consider doing glute ham raises or nordic leg curls.
    I do Plyometrics and short sprints too. Lunges and HT helped me improve posture during first step and acceleration. Is it possible that hamstring strength is more for maximum speed than acceleration? In that case I wouldn’t know cause sprints are short in soccer.
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    Registered User Alexlarex's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    So many football (soccer) players get hamstring injuries. Maybe.. just maybe... having strong ones could be helpful in some way?
    Yes that is true. I’ve been one of them. But by doing lunges and Hip Thrust I feel I use hamstrings less and Glutes more. I know exccentric exercises for hamstrings are good for injury prevention. But in terms of performance, what are they important for? I wouldn’t consider top speed as important for soccer as acceleration. So do they help in something else?
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    Registered User Heisman2's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Alexlarex View Post
    Yes that is true. I’ve been one of them. But by doing lunges and Hip Thrust I feel I use hamstrings less and Glutes more. I know exccentric exercises for hamstrings are good for injury prevention. But in terms of performance, what are they important for? I wouldn’t consider top speed as important for soccer as acceleration. So do they help in something else?
    They are important in all phases of sprinting: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4689850/
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    Han shot first! TolerantLactose's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Heisman2 View Post
    nordic leg curls.
    Just started doing these. Tough tough tough.
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    Registered User HanleyTucks's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Alexlarex View Post
    I used to do Stiff leg deadlift for hamstrings but never felt any improvements by doing them or any other kind of deadlift.[...]
    Originally Posted by Alexlarex View Post
    Yes that is true. I’ve been one of them. But by doing lunges and Hip Thrust I feel I use hamstrings less and Glutes more.
    1. you worked your hamstrings
    2. then you stopped
    3. then you got injured.

    You have answered your own question.
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    Formerly grouchyjarhead GrouchyUSMC's Avatar
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    Hamstrings are actually underrated, most people don't train them well. And they're very important for athletes.
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    Originally Posted by GrouchyUSMC View Post
    Hamstrings are actually underrated, most people don't train them well. And they're very important for athletes.
    ^ This

    Not just sports but critical for everyday life too. People who only train quads often develop pains, inflexibility and suffer spasms which can affect lower back and knees.

    Train your hamstrings well - through a full range of motion.
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    Originally Posted by GrouchyUSMC View Post
    Hamstrings are actually underrated, most people don't train them well. And they're very important for athletes.
    I kinda agree with op, GLUTES are underrated and most people don't train them well.
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    Originally Posted by Alexlarex View Post
    what are they important for? I wouldn’t consider top speed as important for soccer as acceleration. So do they help in something else?
    I've pulled my hamstring once and tweaked it a few times - each time when accelerating quickly to top speed in a sports context. For soccer, I wouldn't overlook any of the lower body muscles in your training.
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    Originally Posted by Alexlarex View Post
    I do Plyometrics and short sprints too. Lunges and HT helped me improve posture during first step and acceleration. Is it possible that hamstring strength is more for maximum speed than acceleration? In that case I wouldn’t know cause sprints are short in soccer.
    Glutes and hamstrings do different things, how can having strong glutes mean that you don't need to worry about hamstrings, it doesn't make sense
    Hamstring crosses 2 joints and have 3 main functions
    * assist the glute pull the leg back
    * lift your heel towards your butt (flexing knee backwards)
    * counteract sheer forces that would build across the knee joint when the quads contract

    When you walk or jog slowly your heels are near the ground, the hamstring doesn't work very hard, but look at a picture of a sprinter at full speed, their heel comes way up and back, high off the ground. The hamstring has to pull the foot back and high up as you sprint.

    If you do a sport that has bursts of sprints (like soccer) you need strong hamstrings or risk injury, no matter how strong your glutes may be
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    ^ This

    Not just sports but critical for everyday life too. People who only train quads often develop pains, inflexibility and suffer spasms which can affect lower back and knees.

    Train your hamstrings well - through a full range of motion.
    I wish I could recall where I read this but there's a correlation between quad:hamstring strength discrepancy and ACL injury rates.
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    If you don’t have that “long thigh muscle” you just won’t be very fast
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    Originally Posted by TolerantLactose View Post
    I wish I could recall where I read this but there's a correlation between quad:hamstring strength discrepancy and ACL injury rates.
    Bill Starr's Strongest Shall Survive had data with that. Something like your hamstrings need to be at least close to 70% of the quadriceps strength or something along those lines. Many athletes didn't come close.
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    So hamstrings are more important than quads? As an athlete should I focus less in quads and more in Glutes/hamstrings?
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    Which leg of the chair is most important? All four are necessary for it to be able to sit solidly. And those little crosspieces holding the legs straight matter, too.

    I trained a guy who was out in the snow one day and flung himself down to be a human tobaggon and injured his serratus posterior inferior. I'd never heard of it either. He'd been happily squatting 140kg for work sets, now he couldn't unrack 60kg without pain. Deadlifts were out, too. It took him 4 weeks for it to heal enough he could get under the bar, and another 4 weeks to get back where he was. A very small muscle nobody ever heard of stopped his progress for 2 months.

    No single muscle is more important than any other single muscle. They work together. Train movements, and your muscles will follow.

    For example, consider that the function of the hamstrings is to extend the hip. It's bent, you straighten it. Now, it's bent at the bottom of a squat, and when you pick something up off the floor. Any time you start with your hip flexed and then extend it against load, you will be using your hamstrings. So the hamstrings are involved in the front squat, they're just more involved in the high-bar back squat, and more in the low-bar back squat, and even more in the deadlift, clean or snatch.

    Any time you do a movement where you are moving several joints, you are using lots of different muscles, it's just a question of emphasis. So if you do a variety of movements, then you will cover all those different muscles. Make sense?

    Now, there are lots of ways people have broken down movements, and there are arguments for each. I think 5 basic movements covers it pretty well - squat, push, pull, hip hinge, loaded carry.

    You need to do some sort of squatting movement. Low-bar back squat, high-bar back squat, barbell front squat, goblet squat, split squat, leg press, whatever.
    You need to do some sort of pushing movement. Barbell press, barbell bench press, dumbbell overhead press, pushups, whatever.
    You need to do some sort of pulling movement. Barbell row, chinups, lat pulldown, seated cable machine row, bat wings, dumbbell row, whatever.
    You need to do some sort of hip hingeing movement. Conventional barbell deadlift, rack pulls, powercleans, snatches, single leg kettlebell deadlift, RDLs, whatever.
    You need to do some sort of loaded carries. Farmer's walk, suitcase carry, rack carry, yoke walk, sandbag carry, whatever.

    If a beginner's programme has got at least 3 of those 5 movements in it, and some sort of planned progression, it is probably alright. Better is 4, best is all 5. The exact choice is not as important as that the movements are covered, that you do them with good form and progress them over time. If one gets stale then swap it for another, like you were doing nothing but bench and kept getting stuck at X weight, now do presses until they get stuck, then do dumbbell bench until it gets stuck, and so on.

    That's getting a bit ahead of ourselves, though. For now: just do some hinges. You were doing hinges, didn't get injured, stopped, got injured. So obviously in your case you need to do hinges. Someone else might be fine without them, but obviously you need them. Do some deadlifts.
    Last edited by HanleyTucks; 11-25-2019 at 05:26 PM.
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    Registered User Alexlarex's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by HanleyTucks View Post
    Which leg of the chair is most important? All four are necessary for it to be able to sit solidly. And those little crosspieces holding the legs straight matter, too.

    I trained a guy who was out in the snow one day and flung himself down to be a human tobaggon and injured his serratus posterior inferior. I'd never heard of it either. He'd been happily squatting 140kg for work sets, now he couldn't unrack 60kg without pain. Deadlifts were out, too. It took him 4 weeks for it to heal enough he could get under the bar, and another 4 weeks to get back where he was. A very small muscle nobody ever heard of stopped his progress for 2 months.

    No single muscle is more important than any other single muscle. They work together. Train movements, and your muscles will follow.

    For example, consider that the function of the hamstrings is to extend the hip. It's bent, you straighten it. Now, it's bent at the bottom of a squat, and when you pick something up off the floor. Any time you start with your hip flexed and then extend it against load, you will be using your hamstrings. So the hamstrings are involved in the front squat, they're just more involved in the high-bar back squat, and more in the low-bar back squat, and even more in the deadlift, clean or snatch.

    Any time you do a movement where you are moving several joints, you are using lots of different muscles, it's just a question of emphasis. So if you do a variety of movements, then you will cover all those different muscles. Make sense?

    Now, there are lots of ways people have broken down movements, and there are arguments for each. I think 5 basic movements covers it pretty well - squat, push, pull, hip hinge, loaded carry.

    You need to do some sort of squatting movement. Low-bar back squat, high-bar back squat, barbell front squat, goblet squat, split squat, leg press, whatever.
    You need to do some sort of pushing movement. Barbell press, barbell bench press, dumbbell overhead press, pushups, whatever.
    You need to do some sort of pulling movement. Barbell row, chinups, lat pulldown, seated cable machine row, bat wings, dumbbell row, whatever.
    You need to do some sort of hip hingeing movement. Conventional barbell deadlift, rack pulls, powercleans, snatches, single leg kettlebell deadlift, RDLs, whatever.
    You need to do some sort of loaded carries. Farmer's walk, suitcase carry, rack carry, yoke walk, sandbag carry, whatever.

    If a beginner's programme has got at least 3 of those 5 movements in it, and some sort of planned progression, it is probably alright. Better is 4, best is all 5. The exact choice is not as important as that the movements are covered, that you do them with good form and progress them over time. If one gets stale then swap it for another, like you were doing nothing but bench and kept getting stuck at X weight, now do presses until they get stuck, then do dumbbell bench until it gets stuck, and so on.

    That's getting a bit ahead of ourselves, though. For now: just do some hinges. You were doing hinges, didn't get injured, stopped, got injured. So obviously in your case you need to do hinges. Someone else might be fine without them, but obviously you need them. Do some deadlifts.
    Great answer, thank you very much!
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    You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to HanleyTucks again.
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    Registered User jademonkey's Avatar
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    Question:
    Why loaded carries? I never heard of such a thing until joining this forum, never done one (unless you count moving my furniture every few years, chores I did as a kid, or carrying all my groceries at once), never seen anyone in real life or on video doing one.
    Edit: I lied, I think I've probably seen Alan Thrall carrying something around in one of his videos.
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    A good and sensible question, jademonkey.

    Loaded carries are essentially a moving and progressable plank. How do you progress a plank? You can hold it for longer, but there is a point of diminishing returns, plus after a couple of minutes it's pretty boring. How do you load it up, and progress it? You could get someone to put a plate on your back, but... How do you take a plank and make it address all the little muscles that come into play when the trunk moves around during running and jumping? You can do things like raise one arm and/or one leg, and this is good - but then that weight plate your mate put on your back falls off.

    Well, if you take a weight in each hand and walk with it, you can progress the load, distance and so on over time.

    Deadlifts and loaded carries are the formalised version of most of the lifting people do in everyday life. If you've ever moved house then you did a lot of deadlifts and loaded carries. You probably didn't do a lot of squats or cleans, presses or curls.

    Squat, bench and deadlift are important and useful, but think of it this way: you could get a powerlifter and a strongman athlete, they might have similar squats and deadlifts, though the strongman would have a slightly smaller bench because it's not competed, they do overhead stuff. The powerlifter has done squat, bench, deadlift and a bunch of accessories in the gym. The strongman has also done front squats, stone lifts, and a whole lot of loaded carries.

    Which one do you want helping you move house, and which one are you more scared of wrestling? Well, part of that is loaded carries.

    What some of us have found in the gym is that if you just do the basic barbell lifts, you get good and strong - but one day you pull that deadlift sligtlly wonky, and all these small muscles that don't usually get used are suddenly forced to work, and ping! you're out for a couple of weeks. But the loaded carries - well, you can't do them neat and straight, those little muscles get worked whether they like it or not. Loaded carries are thus protective of the lower back against small injuries from training and life.

    Plus, grip strength. If you can't hold onto it you can't lift it.

    You won't see many videos or read articles about loaded carries much because they're not very interesting to watch, and basically any idiot can perform them, they require programming but they don't require coaching. You take a weight in each hand and walk with it. Try to talk hunched over or wonky, and within three steps you'll straighten up and walk along with good posture. Coaches don't tend to write articles about things which require no coaching, you don't make money by not coaching people, and there's not much to say anyway.

    I don't want to oversell the loaded carries. They're just part of it all.
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  23. #23
    Registered User jademonkey's Avatar
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    Thanks for the detailed answer!

    Originally Posted by HanleyTucks View Post
    Deadlifts and loaded carries are the formalised version of most of the lifting people do in everyday life. If you've ever moved house then you did a lot of deadlifts and loaded carries. You probably didn't do a lot of squats or cleans, presses or curls.
    I sometimes wonder if this is the main reason squats still feel so weird to me and why I can push my muscles harder in deadlift and bench press.



    Originally Posted by HanleyTucks View Post
    Squat, bench and deadlift are important and useful, but think of it this way: you could get a powerlifter and a strongman athlete, they might have similar squats and deadlifts, though the strongman would have a slightly smaller bench because it's not competed, they do overhead stuff. The powerlifter has done squat, bench, deadlift and a bunch of accessories in the gym. The strongman has also done front squats, stone lifts, and a whole lot of loaded carries.

    Which one do you want helping you move house, and which one are you more scared of wrestling? Well, part of that is loaded carries.
    Surely both make fine house movers, and I'm not concerned with wrestling. Never watched a strong man thing nor heard of it til joining this forum though so I couldn't really say. Powerlifting is contrived strength. Real life is real life. Strongman seems like chasing a middle ground. Not purely a numbers game but not purely functional either. I could be wrong, and it might be fun to try though. Sounds like something they'd do out in the middle of nowhere or 100 years ago where no one has a gym and they have to go around lifting random stuff to get strong.

    Originally Posted by HanleyTucks View Post
    What some of us have found in the gym is that if you just do the basic barbell lifts, you get good and strong - but one day you pull that deadlift sligtlly wonky, and all these small muscles that don't usually get used are suddenly forced to work, and ping! you're out for a couple of weeks. But the loaded carries - well, you can't do them neat and straight, those little muscles get worked whether they like it or not. Loaded carries are thus protective of the lower back against small injuries from training and life.
    This makes a lot of sense. But does it happen in real life? Do the best power lifters also do farmers walks?
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    Registered User HanleyTucks's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jademonkey View Post
    I sometimes wonder if this is the main reason squats still feel so weird to me and why I can push my muscles harder in deadlift and bench press.
    You mean trunk strength? It's possible. It's also possible that squats are just hard and they suck. Nobody ever threw up after a set of bench press, it's hard but it's not taxing on your system in the same way standing lifts are, and deadlifts the bar sits on the floor between reps - but squats, the damn weight is on your back the whole time, trying to crush you to death.

    Surely both make fine house movers, and I'm not concerned with wrestling.
    You'd go for the strongman because they are accustomed to moving heavy and awkwardly-shaped objects. Have a look at some of the events on YouTube, you'll see what I mean.

    Powerlifting is contrived strength. Real life is real life. Strongman seems like chasing a middle ground.
    It's not really "contrived" so much as being good at a few very particular things. As an example, a friend of mine has benched 180kg equipped, he never presses except about once a year for fun - and last time pressed 55kg. I have seen heaps of young men in my press 55kg or more, I've never seen one bench 180. Strength can be very specific, you get good at moving a big weight in a very particular way, it goes off by half an inch and you lose it. The sport of powerlifting is about training three very specific movements for you to move along in a very specific and narrow groove. To become very good at that you will naturally not be as good at other things.

    You could really mess up a powerlifter on meet day if you told a conventional deadlifter they had to sumo, or a low-bar guy they had to high-bar, or the big arch bencher they had to do it flat-backed. They become accustomed to lifting the weight in a very specific way. That doesn't mean they're not strong, of course they are. But it's very specific.

    This makes a lot of sense. But does it happen in real life? Do the best power lifters also do farmers walks?
    No. Likewise, the best distance runners don't do barbell squats. But that does not mean we should not - we are, after all, not the best powerlifters or runners. We should build the foundation.

    But there is a difference between what we at under 50% of the world record need to do to build a broad base of ability, and what someone at 80+% of the world record needs to do. Consider that the best 5km run time is something like 12'37" for men and 14'11" for women. But if you are a previously sedentary newbie who is a bit overweight, has one or two joint issues, and who doesn't even do 10,000 steps a day - well, just walking 5km in 60' will be a challenge for you.

    With less than 25% world record performance you could walk, run, swim, or cycle, or even just lift weights, and your 5km time would get better.

    To get up to 50%, running it in 25-30', you need to actually go for runs, and lifting weights and cycling and so on will make less of a difference.

    To get to 75% and something like 17'30" you need to do a lot of running, and probably drop off everything else except going pretty light.

    Over 75% and under 17' or so, well to be there you probably need to be talented, and improving your performance becomes more complicated.

    Likewise, if you are a healthy under 40yo 80kg male, the world record squat is something like 320kg. A previously sedentary newbie can do something like 60kg on day one, but should probably start with 40kg; either way that guy is well under 25% world record performance. Up to 50% and 160kg would take him 6-12 months, up to 75% and 240kg - well, most people will never get that far, it takes a lot of focus and determination. Past that is talent and - well, mostly just squatting, benching and deadlifting, no messing about with anything else.

    So the person under 50% of world record performance can and should do a bunch of different things to get their performance up. Past that and generally they have built the base and just need to do that one thing.

    Think of it this way: even if you're an English teacher now, you probably did calculus at high school. You built a broad base and specialised later on. Calculus didn't help you directly, but it helped you learn to think logically and analytically, which helps in writing long after you've forgotten that the differential of x squared is 2x.

    Most people are previously sedentary newbies and look to the top athletes to see what they should do in the gym. This is like the primary school student looking at PhDs to see what they should do in class. Build the foundation.

    Again: of squat, push, pull, hip hinge and loaded carry, if you have at least 3 of the 5 you will probably be alright. 4 is better, and all 5 is best. Progress will be slower but you will have a more solid foundation, something which you may appreciate 10 years later, like the English teacher might appreciate the calculus they had to do.
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