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Hamstring Training Thoughts

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

Aim? Robust and powerful hamstrings.

What does this mean? They are always injury-free. They can cope with any training thrown at them (eg. top-end speed, lots of COD) and they are effective on the field of play.

How do you do this?

You need a base level of strength. This comes from heavy RDLs, and nordics. Alongside this, balance is required – ie. do SL RDL.


Volume is key for nordics. You need lots of reps. Initially, people get put off them because they get DOMS. It’s the same as anything though – you just need to stick with it. Why a lot of volume? Because for a long time you will be too weak to perform a full nordic, so you need the reps in to get more TUT. Other methods include adding in assisted ‘bottom-half’ reps, or partner resisted lying on your front with them pulling your leg down, to really target the bottom half of a nordic. After a while you can also treat it more like a normal lift. ie. load it up. This could be just loading up the eccentric portion to begin with, then drop the weight and complete the concentric.


Get heavy. People have an avoidance of these. Either they don’t go heavy and perform with full ROM because they are afraid of sore hamstrings (you need to stress to progress though) or they are worried about their lower backs. Newsflash: if you do the move properly, and progress the load appropriately over time, not only will you not get a sore lower back, but you will get an insanely strong lower back. Is having a strong lower back useful? No more stupid questions please. An RDL can be 1RM tested. However, due to its nature of stress and how easy it is be in a bad place if you get the loading wrong (ie. as you transition from the eccentric to the concentric portion, if the load was too much you will either lose the form in your back or a muscle is going to give), it is safer to limit to a 3RM.

Do you really need to test it? No. It’s not a main lift (which you may not need to test anyway). Naturally, you will work up to heavy triples in your programme anyway, and so know roughly where you are strength-wise with this lift.

Ideally, your RDL should be within touching distance of your back squat. Why? The posterior chain is so important for any athlete.

The RDL is a great indicator of posterior chain strength. More so than the deadlift perhaps, as you have to only use the posterior chain for an RDL, whereas for a deadlift, although it is posterior chain dominant, other factors come into play depending upon an individual’s technique, body mechanics, limb length, etc. An RDL, everyone starts the same – standing with the barbell held in their hands. Therefore, it is easily comparable across athletes of different heights.

What’s next after this base level of strength?

It's two-fold: absorb force, and produce force.


Hamstring catches, jumps, landings, COD, agility (reactive element increases the internal load on the body). Progress to top-speed sprinting. Can you do all of this under fatigue now? Repeatedly?

Additionally, ROM is essential. It needs to be as large as possible. Obviously, it then needs to be strong throughout that full ROM. Why so large? The athlete will be forced into positions in training and matches where extreme hamstring ROM is required (think POC hamstring injury for Ireland). If you don’t have the required ROM you will still hit the position – you will just be injured though.

Enjoy your training, Max

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