We often think of the hamstrings as being tight and inflexible. As if they always need to be stretched. But adequate hamstring strength and endurance is also critically important.
Here are 4 key hamstring exercise progressions to build strength and endurance in this important muscle group.
Basic Hamstring Bridge
The basic hamstring bridge is the starting point. For best results focus on actively pulling the heels down into the box or bench to drive the hamstring contraction. And go slow. 4 seconds concentric, 2 seconds at the top, 4 seconds eccentric.
Typical prescription is 3-5 sets to fatigue — 2-3x/week. When 12 – 15 reps becomes easy progress to isometric shift and holds.
Hamstring Bridge with Isometric Shift and Hold
This is the first progression beyond the Basic Hamstring Bridge. Here we go up on 2 legs, then shift onto one leg for an isometric hold at the top. Then back down on 2 legs. This shift and hold adds more load but also a bit of rotational stress.
Keep pulling with the hamstring. Don’t let the hips and spine rotate.
If this is too much of a jump you can also start with partial shifts (watch the video for a full discussion).
Typical prescription is 3-5 sets to fatigue– 2-3x/week. When this becomes easy progress the exercise.
Eccentric Hamstring Bridge
For the Eccentric Hamstring Bridge we go up on 2 legs, shift to 1 leg at the top, then slowly lower on the single leg. The key here is to go slow and hold the body steady to fully accept the increased load when shifting onto the single leg at the top.
And keep pulling with the hamstring as you lower down to develop the eccentric control.
Typical prescription is 3-5 sets to fatigue — 2-3x/week. When this becomes easy progress the exercise.
Single Leg Hamstring Bridge
Our final progression is the Single Leg Hamstring Bridge. Here we’re using a single leg the whole way. Up on 1 leg, hold at the top, down on that same single leg.
Again, go slow… pull with that heel to keep the focus on the hamstring… keep the hips level to resist that rotational torque.
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Home exercise prescription is of the most important aspect of patient care. But it can also be incredibly frustrating and time consuming. Patients often forget what you tell them, do the exercises wrong, or forget what exercises to do all together.
This is a major barrier to getting the results that you want and your patients need. But our home exercise software can help. Check it out to see how it works.
And remember, if you like the exercises you see here they are all part of our My Rehab Connection Exercise library.
If you are a subscriber you can find this hamstring bridge progression in the “My Exercise Groups” section under the title Hamstring Strength/Endurance: Hamstring Bridge Progression.