Nordic or Russian Hamstring Exercise

The so called Nordic or Russian Hamstring exercise has continued to grow in popularity, usually as part of an ACL prevention program. I will get directly to the point, this is a dumb exercise. Sure it works the hamstring, but once again it works the hamstring in isolation. Movement is dominated at one joint, the knee. It does work the hamstring eccentrically, but at very slow speed, no where near the high speed eccentric activity that occurs in running or in planting and cutting. It puts great stress on the distal hamstring. If you want to feel the burn, this is a god exercise, but as far as any kind of functional strengthening of the hamstring it has no value. It definitely is not in my toolbox of exercises. Incidentally I have first hand experience with this exercise going back 32 years. Sam Adams, the coach at UCSB, introduced this exercise to all of us who were there training for the decathlon. We felt we need more “hamstring” strength. There were no hamstring pulls in the group up to that time. Within six weeks of incorporating this exercise there were three hamstring pulls. I know this is anecdotal, but results and action speaks volumes. Go to the web page www.gambetta.com to see the article that Dean Benton and I wrote on Hamstring for suggestions of better exercises. If I had to choose one it would be the lunge. More on lunges tomorrow.


At 9/18/06, 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Completely agree. In fact, I saw just last week a team of youth baseball players partnered up doing this exercise. Not one player had the strength to perform it correctly and much worse was the look on their faces of pain and discomfort!

I believe the lunge and reach series is the best for hamstring development and injury prevention.

At 9/18/06, 4:13 PM, Anonymous Matt Patterson said...

sounds like one of many examples of how the 'isolation' and 'hypertrophy' approach of body builders has been incorporated into sport training theory


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