A couple of weeks ago set about adding some strength training to your program to complement your endurance training, with the aim of increasing resilience, efficiency & performance during what for most of us will be the off-season. (Check out part 1 here.)
We started by focusing on some exercises to build some strength and stability through your glutes & hips. Now we are moving on to the hamstrings.
Traditionally what we see with a lot of endurance athletes who are new to strength training is an inability to “connect” with the hamstrings and get them to fire during compound movements such as squats & deadlifts. So we like to incorporate some isometric hamstring work initially to help spend some time under tension where you can really engage, move around a little, focus, and find positions that will help to get the hamstrings to come to the party and support our larger movements.
Here are a few exercise progressions that are great at helping to facilitate that.
ISOMETRIC HAMSTRING PROGRESSIONS
Similar to a glute bridge but with your legs almost fully extended, We want to squeeze your glutes, engage your core then drive your heels into the floor to raise your hips to the roof. Once in position try to pull your heels towards your bum (without actually moving them). This should encourage a big contraction through the hamstrings which we want to hold for 10-20 seconds.
Week 1: 3 x 10 seconds
Week 2: 3 x 15 seconds
Week 3: 3 x 20 seconds
Week 4: Single leg 3 x 10 seconds each side
The intention with this is exactly the same as the reverse plank above, only now we are adding the weight of your torso into the equation to increase the intensity.
Week 5: 3 x 10 seconds
Week 6: 3 x 15 seconds
Week 7: 3 x 20 seconds
Week 8: 4 x 20 seconds
Bosch Hold with Increasing Load
After you have mastered the Bosch hold, we can start to add additional load. The simplest way is by increasing our length, you do this by extending your hands above your head and even holding a light object there. After that we can add some load by holding a plate to your chest, then lastly by adding in some drop catches we can momentarily increase the force going through your hamstrings, similar to when you drive your foot to the ground during your running stride.
Week 9: 3 x 20 second (hands overhead)
Week 10: 3 x 20 second (+2.5kg-5kg)
Week 11: 3 x 20 second (+5kg-10kg)
Week 12: 3 x 20 second (drop catch w/ 2.5kg-5kg)