Tag Archives: Romanian deadlift

The Best Hamstring Exercises

29 May

maxresdefault[1]Squats and deadlifts are great hip/quad exercises for developing and increasing lower-body strength and power.

But if you really want to improve your athletic performance, you’ll also need to focus on the complementary, opposing muscles of the posterior chain — lower back, glutes, and hamstrings — especially the hamstrings.

Whether your goals include the development of power, strength, size, muscle endurance, or injury prevention, hamstring exercises — when paired with hip/quad exercises — can help you reach those goals.

At our facility, we favor hamstring exercises like Glute-Ham Raises and Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs) for the athletes we train.  A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that RDLs and Glute-Ham Raises produced more significant muscle activation than any other hamstring exercise.

Here’s an article from SpeedBot titled, The 10 Best Hamstring Exercises.  The author discusses the best way to achieve muscle activation, based on the athlete’s training goals, and provides several hamstring exercise variations to include in your training routine to help improve your hamstring strength quickly.


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Build Stronger Legs with the Romanian Deadlift

21 Mar

Romanian-Deadlift[1]If you’re like some of the exercisers I see at local gyms and recreation facilities, your leg workout consist primarily of the leg extension (bad exercise) and leg press (better).  If you’re doing squats… good for you.  That’s a step in the right direction.

If you want to strengthen your legs the smart way, work the oft-neglected muscles of the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings) by adding the Romanian deadlift (RDL, a.k.a., straight-leg deadlift) to your workout.

A study at the University of Memphis suggests that the straight-leg deadlift is more effective than the leg curl machine (another bad exercise).  “The exercise activated the most muscle in the lowering phase,” according to lead researcher Brian Schilling.

Try these variations:

Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions, allowing 4 seconds to lower the weight.  Push your hips back to start the lowering motion, and drive hips forward to resume standing position.


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Improve Your Speed and Agility with Jump Training

27 Mar

Lead%20Photo-1[1]Research has shown a definitive correlation between jumping ability and running performance, including speed and agility.  Generally, there is a stronger correlation based on the sprint distance.  The contribution of muscle power may be most important in shorter distance sprints (for example, 60, 100, and 200 meters), although middle- and long-distance running performance is positively impacted, as well.  Development of muscle power — via jump training — should be considered as  a component for training for most sports, including both sprinters and middle- and long-distance runners.

Running velocity, including the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction quickly, has been shown to be a function of force and power production.  The high-power output associated with jumping activities has led researchers to determine that jumping tests could be used as a  predictor of running performance.

Force and power are obvious components of running ability.  Maximal squat strength has been significantly correlated to sprint performance.  So, how do you incorporate strength and power training — including jump training — into your strength and conditioning regimen in a relevant way?

Strength Training

Before you start jump training, including plyometrics, you’ve got to be strong.  In order to be safe and effective, high-intensity power training requires adequate strength.  Bilateral, lower-body strength exercises like the squat, deadlift, and Romanian deadlift will help you build a strong foundation.  Unilateral exercises like the stepup and Bulgarian split squat are more functional, requiring strength and stability

Jump Training

Plyometrics are the most effective way to build lower-extremity power.  These exercises, done correctly, are designed to help you generate the greatest possible force in the shortest amount of time.  Jumping rope and jumping jacks are basic plyometric exercises, and a good place to start.  Once proficient at these exercises, you can progress to multiple, continuous box and hurdle jumps.


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Don’t Neglect Your Glutes and Hamstrings

16 Nov

Everybody does quadricep-dominant exercises like the squat and leg press.  And, with good reason.  These large, fast-twitch muscles, located on the fronts of your thighs, are responsible for generating lower-body strength and power, important for sport-specific movements like linear speed and vertical jump.  But, if you’re not also doing posterior chain exercises – those that focus on your glutes and hamstrings – you’re only doing half the job.

Your hamstrings are the large muscles that run down the back of each of your thighs.  They are opposing muscles to your quadriceps, and provide balance and stability to the knee joint.  These muscles are prone to injury if you do not work to keep them strong and loose, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Glute-Hamstring Exercises

Exercises like the back extensionglute-ham raise (pictured), and Romanian deadlift (RDL) are great complements to your quad-dominant exercises.  For every set of quad exercises, perform one set of glute-ham exercises.  Aim for 4-6 repetitions, per set, with perfect technique.

Benefits of Glute and Hamstring Strength and Flexibility

  • Prevents lower back pain – your hamstring muscles will better support your back and pelvis while you move if the muscles are strong and flexible.
  • Reduces injuries – strong and flexible hamstring muscles can support your body during exercise and help prevent injury, especially during running.
  • Improves athletic performance – having strong and flexible hamstring muscles can improve your performance in various sports.


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Develop Your Core to Improve Athletic Performance

29 Oct

It’s important to incorporate core (multi-joint) exercises into your Strength and Conditioning plan.  When some people hear core, they think abs.  Your core actually includes shoulders, chest, back, hips, glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings.  These are your body’s largest and strongest muscles; the muscles that initiate and generate strength and power for virtually every sport.  It won’t matter how strong muscles like your biceps, triceps, and calves are if you don’t have a strong core.

Train Movements, Not Muscles

All athletic movements incorporate the core in some way.   Very few muscle groups are isolated; the whole body works as a unit.  Core strength training should reflect the movement patterns of the athlete’s sport(s).  Benefits of core strength training include:

  • Greater efficiency of (functional) movement
  • Improved balance and stability
  • Increased strength and power output from both the core musculature and peripheral muscles such as the shoulders, arms, and legs
  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Improved athletic performance

Resistance Training Exercises

There are lots of exercises athletes can do to strengthen the muscles of the core.  Some of the most effective are exercises like the Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift (RDL), Squat, Bench Press, and Row.  Unilateral variations of these exercises (single-arm, single-leg) are also beneficial because of the way they incorporate balance and stability, making them very functional.

Do It Right

Proper technique can make every exercise more effective and reduce the risk of injury.  If you’re just starting, it’s wise to enlist the help of an experienced, qualified Strength and Conditioning professional.  Even if you’re not a strength training novice, working with a professional can focus your efforts and help you be more efficient and productive en route to reaching and exceeding your athletic performance goals.


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