How Sprinters Can Quickly Develop Strong Hamstrings
The hamstrings are among the most important muscle groups involved in sprinting. Your hamstrings comprise three muscles — the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus, and together they work to flex your knee and extend your hips -- two actions you perform on every single stride of a sprint. Therefore, it stands to reason that having stronger hamstrings will give you a more powerful and quicker sprint. According to strength coach Erick Minor, hamstring injuries are common in sprinters so ensuring that the muscle is strong can help to reduce the risk of injuries, too.
Train your hamstrings twice per day, once per week. Charles Poliquin, owner of the Poliquin Performance Center for elite athletes, recommends that if you can spare the time, and have a muscle group you really want to focus on developing, you should train it twice on one day of the week. Both sessions should be fairly short, with your first concentrating on strength and power, and your second on muscular endurance. Do this on a day when you don't have any track sessions.
Start session one with broad jumps. Mark a line on the floor and stand behind it. With your feet together, push your hips back, then snap them forward and jump as far as you can. Walk back, and repeat this twice more. Do six sets of three jumps, trying to make each one as explosive as possible. Your hamstrings consist mainly of type 2 muscle fibers, which are used for explosive movements, so broad jumps are a great way to activate them.
Do deadlifts as your second exercise in session one. According to Jim Smith of The Diesel Crew, the deadlift may be the best hamstring exercise. Make sure you keep the bar close to you at all times, drive with your hips, and maintain a slight lower back arch. Work up to a top set of five reps. For variation, switch between regular, snatch-grip and trap-bar deadlifts every few workouts.
Perform your second hamstring workout in the evening, at least six hours after the first. This session should be based around two higher-repetition exercises. Make your first one a glute ham raise, and perform five sets of as many reps as possible. Once you can do five sets of 10, try adding weight by holding a plate or wearing a weighted vest. Your second exercise should be either a good morning using a resistance band, or a hip extension on a cable machine. Do three sets of 20 reps on whatever exercise you choose.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.