The Inverse Curl from Westside Barbell
You know that saying “You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone?”
While that’s true in many circumstances in life, it’s definitely applicable to hamstring injuries. You really don’t realize how much you use your hamstrings until after you tear one. Every movement of your lower body involves your hamstrings. Therefore, hamstring injuries are terribly painful. Unfortunately, I have some previous issues with my hamstrings. I have since come to greatly appreciate having healthy, functional muscles back there.
Hamstrings play a few critical roles:
* Extending the hip during athletic movements. These movements are sprinting, any type of jumping, squatting, deadlifting, running amongst many more. Any movement that involves hip extension. The stronger the muscles that extend your hip are, the more weight you’ll lift. In other words, you will be faster, you’ll run and the higher you’ll jump.
* The hamstring plays a critical role in change of direction movements. Which is especially important for any sport where you change directions (pretty much all of them…). Whether it’s on the field, the track, the court or the rink. Strong hamstrings will help you play your sport better and navigate the world in a more agile and efficient way.
* Stabilizing the knee. Since the hamstrings cross the knee, they provide an opposing force to the quadriceps. The hamstring keeps the lower leg in the correct place. If your hamstrings are weak, it can increase your susceptibility to knee injuries. An example of an injury would be an ACL tear. However, in my experience ACL injuries can be prevented or avoided completely, by strengthening the hamstrings). If your knees look as if they have their own gravitational pull towards each other, and your foot isn’t collapsing, then hamstring weakness might be an issue.
Women, tend to be more prone to hamstring weakness than men. It is particularly important for the ladies to pay extra attention to the hamstring area. Louie Simmons, creator of Westside Barbell and the inverse curl machine stated: “If you get knee pain when you squat, it can be because your hamstrings are weak.”
* Flexing the knee. The more powerfully you can flex the leg, the faster you can move in activities like walking, running, and sprinting.
Hamstrings are important all things athletic.
The inverse curl machine has a few important advantages over other hamstring training methods:
*The inverse Curl allows better technique. Which in turn, allows the right muscles to develop. Also you will build better habits. The GHD raise is a very similar movement. This movements is call the Russian Leg Curl. Russian Leg curls when performed correctly are one of the kings to building hamstring. The only problem is, it’s really easy to “cheat” the Russian Leg Curl. The inverse curl machine allows someone to build towards the Russian Leg Curl.
* The machine teaches you to coordinate the usage of your hips, midsection and hamstrings together. A lot of alternatives don’t get when doing traditional isolation type exercises. Using all the muscles together correctly will help your body function better. In turn, helping to prevent any one area from being overloaded which is a common cause of injury.
* It’s easy to see progress on the inverse curl. As long as your technique is at least moderately consistent. You have become stronger when you use less weight as a counter balance. The machine does a great job of having adjustments to ensure it can always be challenging.
* Anyone can use the machine. The Russian Leg curl is very difficult, especially for beginners. Being able to adjust the machine for different heights, weights, etc allow the coaches to modify the movement for anyone.
Tips and Cautions
* The weight is a counterweight, the more you put on it, the easier it will be. Be conservative when you first start. Start with more weight than your body weight. Having a partner that can catch/spot you if need be is a good idea.
* You have to resist on the way down, at least when you’re first learning how to use it. I have witnessed people plant their face into the ground because they didn’t resist at all. You don’t want to be that person!
* Use it 1-3 times per week.If endurance in the hamstrings is what you’re looking for.
For instance, if you notice when you go on long runs, bike rides, etc., your hamstrings always feel like they’re on fire or tired before anything else. Then do several (3+) sets of 20+ reps up to 100 or more.
Is strength is your goal? Low reps and high sets are the ticket.
If you’re not able to hold the right positions in your Olympic lifts. Shoulders over the bar and feet flat on the ground, improving hamstring strength will help. Doing 5-10 sets of 3-6 reps will help you build both size and strength in them. If you don’t want size, aim for a higher weight, less reps/sets. Which in turn equals less volume. Volume is a big factor in hypertrophy. Also, working up to a rep max of 1-20 reps is great for this purpose as well.
Traditional bodybuilding schemes like 4×8, 3×10, 3×12, etc. are also effective.
You can also combine endurance, strength and hypertrophy schemes throughout the week if your sport or goals require it.
Do them regularly
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