restore: the legs program

the hamstrings


hamstring training:

Our hamstring training is going to zero in on three similar, yet at the same time, very different, movements.

They each will challenge the strength of the hamstring muscle group but also challenge the integration of the hamstrings with other “links” in the “posterior chain,” including and especially the hip girdle!

What are they?

  • The Posterior Plank
  • The Single-Leg Deadlift
  • Swiss-Ball Bridging and Curling

Keep reading for detailed individual instructional videos for each of these exercises.

But first, take a couple of minutes to listen in to the video below where I discuss the appropriate training progression for these exercises.  

Training progression – that is, moving from learning and patterning and skill-building, to increases in load in a bilateral (2-leg) position, to then shifting from a bilateral to isolateral set up, is critical for your success. 

  1. Start with patterning. Learn the exercise and build skill. Be mindful. 
  2. Master 2-leg positioning and add loads progressively. Get stronger bilaterally!
  3. When you’ve established good bilateral strength, move to a single leg/hip/side set up and continue working to increase strength and dynamic challenge.

Listen in to the video where we briefly discuss these concepts.

Now let’s look at each of these three exercises in more detail with these instructional videos. 

Keep it fun!

The Posterior Plank

The Posterior Plank exercise is part of RESTORE: The Core Program, because it can be a great way to progress the overall strength of the core/trunk. 

It’s also one of those movements that, at first glance, may look easier than it actually is. So I’ll start by saying, use caution and approach it in a smart way.

Importantly, it’s also one of those exercises that can be scaled to make it easier or more challenging, depending upon where you are in your development.

In the video, you will receive guidance on THREE progressive variations. Start easier and build gradually. Do not rush – patience and persistence are rewarded.

Master correct SET UP of the exercise, first and foremost.

Focus on good integration and connection. Radiate tension throughout your body. That radiation of stiffness and tension is what will take stress OFF of the hamstrings, which can take the brunt of the stress if we allow them to.

Should this be “moving”?

To learn the answer to this question, keep reading.

One of the benefits to this exercise is that it will give you an opportunity to apply many of the skills you’ve been learning to this point – specifically the HIP HINGE as you raise your body up into the plank from a seated position on the floor. The goal here is simple and very important:

Think of your hip joints like skewers. Move through those “skewers” while maintaining integrity and stiffness within your trunk – the “core.”

One of the most important benefits of learning core stability and building strength of the core is that we can then, in the process, move MORE through our hips. The hips become the powerhouse. The hips are built to be one of our prime movers. The hips are where we transfer power above and below. The trunk/core is our foundation. Practice these elements as you work on the posterior plank!


Training Guidance

The posterior plank can be a very fatiguing exercise when you do it to the “max” or when attempting to hold isometrically (without moving) for a sustained period. I do not recommend you start this way.

As mentioned, there are THREE progressive variations which are presented in the video. Follow the guidance and approach this in a smart way.

  • Move into position from a seated position via a good quality HINGE at the hip joints.
  • Radiate tension throughout your body in order to reduce stress in any one area, which could result in injury if you push too hard, too soon.
  • Make sure to keep your back and core fully engaged in order to provide a good stable support for your body and take stress OFF of the low-back.

Listen in to the instructional video for the guidance you need. Scale it appropriately. A little goes a long way. Train smart. 😊

Swiss Ball Bridging and Curls

If my experience counts for anything, and I think it does because I’ve been doing this for a long time 😊, I know that when most trainers and athletes first see a picture of this exercise, their first thought is going to be…..glute strength.

That isn’t wrong.

This exercise does do a great job of building solid hip and glute stability and strength if done correctly, and also integrates the hamstring muscle group in a challenging way.

The focus is first, on what provides the foundation for the hips. In other words, it should be on establishing a solid, stable and stiff core, SO THAT the hips CAN MOVE and thus DO what we want them to do. Which is hinge.

Hinging at the hip! 😊

When we hinge at the hip as you learned in the basic glute bridge in RESTORE: The Foundation, we’re building core stability. And yes, we’re using our hips the way that they’re intended too, which WILL improve how they function!

But it’s important to first remember that the core IS THE anchor for the hips. The core is your foundation. (Sound familiar? I hope so!).

Hip hinging, because it involves rotation of the pelvis anteriorly, optimally loads the entire posterior complex (glutes, hamstrings, etc.) and thus reduces the stress on our lumbar spine (low-back).

The point being, the hips can’t be who they’re supposed to be (from a movement perspective) unless the core provides the solid foundation IT needs to.

Think about it: there was a reason after all, as to why I taught you these skills in Circuit 1 of Restore: The Foundation – How to Establish a Neutral Pelvis. Rewatch that video if you need to, as it might mean much more to you now, having come this far in your core stability and strength journey!

Beyond the core

Yes, without a shadow of a doubt, this exercise is a great hip stability and strength builder. That’s a bonus benefit on top of building increasing strength and stability of the core.

A stable and strong set of hips ON TOP OF a stable and strong core = a durable athlete!

Let’s get to work, shall we?

Listen in and watch the video carefully for the not-so-obvious errors which will be tricky yet important to avoid. Watch yourself. That includes video and a mirror. Do it. 😊

Single-Leg Deadlift

As you improve your skill and start to progress this exercise, you are welcome to begin doing it without support.

Keep in mind though – if balance is challenged, you’re much better off using support – you need to be solid and still and have a firm base in order to build hip stability and strength!