The hamstrings are a posterior muscle group that acts as an agonist to the quadriceps. The hamstrings are composed of three different muscles, the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. These muscles cause the leg to flex at the knee and also extend at the hip joint. It is believed that the quads are the most important “speed muscles” in the body, but the true speed muscles are actually the hamstrings and glutes. Both muscles play a much more important role in running stride, especially at high velocities. The hamstring muscle group is also especially important for effective sprinting in terms of explosive power and stride length. Furthermore, the hamstrings are key decelerators. In other words, the stronger your hamstrings are, the faster you can stop, change direction and then resume your running.
Most of the time, hamstring training is placed at the end of the workout routine. But to properly develop the very important knee flexors and hip extensor muscle group, hamstring exercises should be completed during the middle of every lower body and full body days. The hamstrings are built for speed, therefore they tend to be a fast-twitch dominant muscle group; but are also heavily involved in knee stabilization. At WST we perform a hamstring exercise during every lower body and full body day. A few examples of hamstring exercises are Romanian Dead Lifts, Hip Ups, Good Mornings, 45 Hyper Machine, and the Reverse Hyper Machine, which all can be preformed in many different variations. Checkout the newest hamstring exercises at WST and become a stronger, faster, and more explosive athlete!
At Williams Sport Training, all new clients take an assessment test before they begin training, among them, the 10-yard dash, the 5-10-5-yard sprint, the broad jump, and the max push-up test.
The first two tests are tests of speed and agility. The 10-yard dash shows how fast athletes can reach their top speed. The first 10 yards are the most important in a game because an athlete who can explode forward into their run will reach their top speed the fastest; it also shows if the athlete can accelerate the way he/she would in real game situations. In soccer, when a forward receives the ball in a breakaway they need to be able to sprint down the field to avoid defenders and score the goal. Average times for the 10 yard dash run from 1.6-1.7 seconds; our athletes at WST are averaging times from 1.5-1.7 seconds.
The 5-10-5 sprint tests the athlete’s agility. Athletes’ must successfully accelerate, decelerate, and make cutting movements to turn and reaccelerate, while keeping his/her balance. In a sport like field hockey players need to be able to make quick cutting movements because if the attacking team loses possession they need to change direction and quickly get back to defend. Average times run from 4.7-4.8 seconds; athletes at WST are also averaging 4.7-4.8 seconds and by the end of the summer our students leaving for their college season will have shaved off a few seconds in their time.
The next two tests are tests of physical strength and endurance. The broad jump tests an athlete’s lower body strength, while the max push-up test measures the athlete’s upper body endurance. The broad jump measures the explosive power of the athlete’s legs and hips. The farther the athlete can jump, the stronger his/her legs are and the more explosive power he/she has in their legs. Since arms dictate what the legs do, when our athletes are doing a broad jump they swing their arms forward, while they are jumping. This forward movement of the arms tells the athlete’s legs to go in that same direction. An example of how lower body strength plays a role in sports would be a soccer player; if the player has stronger quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip flexors he/she will shoot the ball harder than a player with weaker muscles. Broad jump results differ between males and females; average jumps for males are 7’3”-7’6” and for females it ranges from 5’7”-5’11.” Both our male and female athletes have exceeded those averages, with males averaging 7’8”-7’10” and females averaging 6’0”-6’10”.
The max push-up test, tests an athlete’s upper body endurance. Athletes taking part in this test must make sure their chest touch the small medicine ball for each push-up. The athlete will do as many push-ups as he/she can, until he/she can no longer do them or begins to lose proper form. In sports like lacrosse, players are constantly being cross-checked for possession; a lacrosse player with weak upper body strength will be knocked very easily whereas a player with a stronger upper body will not be knocked as easily. The average amount of push-ups completed run from 19-30 and our athletes are completing about 20-50. The stronger the athlete, the more pushups he/she can complete before fatiguing.
These four tests are part of our new client assessments and allow us to accurately gauge clients’ fitness, body mechanics, and strength so that WST staff can design a customized training program fit for each client. By making athletes stronger we increase their speed, agility, balance, confidence, and explosive power.