Save Athletes' Hamstrings

TAGS: RDLs, off-season training, grip strength, hamstring injuries, matt rhodes

As we jump into our summer training program, the issue of hamstring pulls comes up. This is a very common issue in men’s sports, especially in power sports like football, basketball, lacrosse, and any sprinting events in track and field. These guys can put so much force into the ground that a hamstring pull is a very common occurrence. This isn't so much of a problem for women, simply because they can’t exert as much force when they run, cut, and perform other similar movements. It isn't that women can’t pull a hamstring, but the ACL is a much more common injury in women.

Back to the hamstrings...when an athlete sprints and does agility work, it’s much more taxing on the system than anything in the weight room. As the season approaches, the conditioning work will increase, thus increasing the load on the hamstrings. One method we've used to reduce stress on the hamstrings while still hammering them is the double-over deadlift. Sounds fancy, right? It’s simply a Romanian deadlift from the floor.

Instead of lowering the bar (eccentric portion), you drop the weight. We should all know that the eccentric portion of the lift causes the most muscle soreness and strain, so we simply eliminate it from the movement. This way we can strengthen the hamstrings with a ground-based, multiple joint exercise, reduce the overall strain on the hamstrings in the weight room, and save them for running.

We like to use a double-overhand grip when doing these for two reasons—it will limit the amount of weight lifted and it’s a very simple and easy way to improve grip strength, hence the name, double-over deadlift.

I recommend using the double-over deadlift in place of Romanian deadlifts as the competitive season approaches. During off-season training, you can certainly use them, but with much less running and conditioning work being done, you can get the added eccentric benefits of the traditional Romanian deadlift. As far as sets and reps go, just replace the Romanian deadlift and keep everything else the same. We typically use four sets in the 6–12 reps range.

Give these a shot and enjoy the reduction in hamstring strains and pulls as you go into the season.

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