Let’s face it, working the back of the legs with that darn leg curl machine at the gym or deadlifts aren’t most individual’s favorite exercises. Okay, maybe I’m projecting a bit. I do know that lots of clients over the years have disdain for both of the above mentioned exercises. This post is delivering to you 2 other exercises that likely aren’t going to tweak your back and ones that you can work on at either the gym, your home or on the road.
Equipment needed: mat, stability ball
This is called a 1 legged ball hamstring curl. Tip: If you get a cramp in your hamstring then you are not tucking (posterior tilting) your pelvis. This on the floor without the ball and just holding 1 one leg bridge in and of itself is a functional movement test to see if you know how to initiate your glutes (fire your glutes). Because everyone has different body alignment you may need to either keep the toe pointed (plantar flexion) or keep toe towards your chin (dorsiflexion). The difference could be as simple as a nerve glide or floss with that toe action for both stretches and exercises. Okay, so I might be getting a little in the weeds with my anatomical descriptors. Just check out the pictures below and try for yourself. If you can’t do the 1 leg version, then build up to it. This can be done with both legs for start and finish of exercise or use both legs to bring ball to your butt and then lift one leg off and slowly roll the ball out. When you get to an extended leg place the non working leg back on the ball to bring back to your butt. These would be called 1 leg negative ball curls and can help you get strong enough to do a complete full range of motion rep. Try anywhere from 1 to 3 sets and 10-15 reps. These can be done 2-3 times per week with a day in between. Getting to easy? Place a dumbbell or kettlebell on your hip of the working leg.
Those with bad knees may have trouble with the second exercise. Maybe you can create some kind of doughnut style layout with a towel or foam to give the knees more cushion or try on a couch, bed or knee pads. Just trying to eliminate excuses as you know that’s what personal trainers do!
These are hamstring rocks with a weight plate on your feet. Some clients are so inflexible in the front part of their ankles that cramping can occur here before exercise is even begun. You can also have someone stand on your feet or prop them under a sturdy piece of furniture. The goal is to gently rock the body forward at the knees. You can see from the picture that even though I knew my picture was taken for this exercise my pelvis is an an anterior tilt (from years of running). You too, may have to avoid your hips wanting to sway forward and backwards as the pivot point. The goal is to keep your spine in line with your knees and hips (pelvis). Go for 20 reps for 1-3 sets. To make it more challenging you can hold a weight plate, dumbbell or hold onto a resistant band in front of you anchored to a door or alternative.
Just a piece of advice, the first time you do these you may indeed feel a very targeted soreness right in the belly of the hamstring. This is a sign you are working the right muscle and it may be sore for several days. Try self massage, foam rollers, trigger point balls or massage therapy to work it out as well as stretching.
Energy Fitness studio in Travelers Rest, SC (relocated town) will be under construction soon. Since you can’t see us onsite….In the meantime you can find Tonya online with Zoom personal training/coaching or hire her to write a program for you with your own personalized 4-6 minute demo of each of your custom workouts included.
Tonya Tittle, M.S., ACSM, LMT, TPI Level 1
Owner/Dir. of Training