Fitness

Joe Canning: 7 Exercises for hamstrings

© Dan Sheridan/ INPHO
Hurling star, Joe Canning, talks us through 7 exercises he uses to build hamstring, glute and quad strength.
Written by Heather IrvinePublished on
Just about every athlete relies on their hamstrings, as it's the muscle responsible for bending your knees. According to Livestrong.com when they're strong, you can jump high and accelerate with explosive power. Not only this, but with well-developed hamstrings, you can maintain good posture, prevent leg injuries and build speed.
Galway hurling star Joe Canning takes to the gym to show us a typical training session for building hamstring, glute and quad strength.

1. Barbell Glute Bridge on Bench

Barbell glute bridge
Barbell glute bridge
What are they good for?
Bridges are great for building strength in the glutes and for improving stability in your core. This is an exercise that is developed from a regular glute bridge. It is an exercise that is progressed from glute bridge so it is harder to perfect as you are trying to balance with one leg.
How:
1. Balance the middle of your back against the edge of a bench.
2. Keep your feet firm on the ground with the barbell across your hip flexors.
3. Drop your pelvis low, then engage your glutes and core to lift the pelvis into a table-top position.
4. Lower back to the start position and repeat.

2. Lunges with Weights

Lunges with weights
Lunges with weights
What are they good for?
Lunges are great for building strength in your quads, glutes and core. They are also great for your posture. Keep your back straight. Start off with a low weight and progress as you get stronger.
How:
1. Stand with your torso upright, shoulders down and back (keeping your back straight is very important for this one).
2. Hold two dumbbells on each side of your body.
3. Step forward with your right leg, about two-feet away from your left leg which remains stationary.
4. Lower your upper body – your front knee should go beyond your toes and your back leg should be bent with you shin perpendicular to the floor.
5. Keep the torso upright at all times.
6. Remove your right foot to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. Keep alternating sides for the allocated number of reps.
7. Perfect your lunge technique with no weights to begin with, then build your way up from very light weights to heavier ones as you get stronger.

3. Weighted Squats

Weighted squats
Weighted squats
What are they good for:
This exercise is great for hamstrings, quads, and the core.
How:
1. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Hold the bar across your upper back with an overhand grip.
3. Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees.
4. Pause in that position, then slowly push yourself back to the starting position.
5. Start with a low weight or no weight at all before progressing on to weights, building them up gradually as you get stronger.

4. Single Leg Roman Deadlift

Single leg roman deadlift
Single leg roman deadlift
What are they good for?
This works the glutes and hamstrings in a different way to the other exercises. You should feel a good stretch the whole way down your hamstring when you are doing it right. This exercise also helps build stability.
How:
1. Start standing up with your legs a little bit apart.
2. Hinge over from your hips, raising one leg as you do so.
3. Your planted leg can have a slight bend in the knee to help with balance. It is also a good idea to choose a fixed spot to fix your gaze as this will also help to prevent you from toppling over.
4. Keep your arms tucked into your chest and aim to get as straight a line as you can manage between your head, back and heel.
5. The movement should be quite fluid, hold for only a second or two before returning your leg to the floor and repeat. You should aim for eight times on each leg.
6. As you get stronger you can also introduce dumbbells to this exercise, holding one in each hand on either side of your body.

5. Plank

Plank
Plank
What is it good for?
The plank is great for building core strength which is essential for a powerful strike in hurling, good posture and also for injury prevention.
How:
1. Get into the press-up position.
2. Bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms.
3. Ensure that your body is in a straight line, all the way from your shoulders to your ankles.
4. Engage your core to ensure your back does not arch.
5. Hold this position, engaging your core and glutes for your allotted time.

6. Press-Ups

Press ups
Press ups
What are they good for?
Press ups are great for building strength in the chest, core and back.
How:
1. Start in a high plank position.
2. Place your hands firmly on the ground, directly under your shoulders.
3. Begin to lower your body—keeping your back flat and eyes focused about three feet in front of you to keep a neutral neck.
4. Stop when your chest grazes the floor.
5. Push yourself back up and repeat.

7. Nordic Hamstring Curls

Nordic hamstring curls
Nordic hamstring curls
What are they good for?
These exercises are just brilliant for building up strength in your hamstrings.
How:
1. Start in a kneeling position, with your back straight and your head up.
2. Ask a friend or training partner to hold your legs firm to the floor.
3. Lean forward as slowly as you possibly can, using your core muscles to stop you from falling.
4. Keep leaning forward until you hit the ground.
5. Then push back up to your start position as quickly as possible. Joe suggests you do three sets of eight reps of each of the above exercises.