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2 Moves For Stronger Wheels & Better Athletic Performance

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When’s the last time you saw someone flex their hamstrings and leave those witnessing the display of striated hamstrings in awe? Never, right? Makes sense. And that’s why hamstring development often gets forgotten. Unlike the quads, calves, biceps, or triceps, the hammies are more of a behind-the-scenes player. But they play a big role in athletics. 

The quads are often credited as the “speed” muscles. And while they’re a part of the equation, the glutes and hamstrings are just as critical. When you want to develop more explosiveness or enhance your stride length, weak hamstrings will give out during your attempt and you’ll find yourself on the sidelines. Additionally, the hammies play a major role when you want to stop quickly and change directions, make a quick cut on the basketball court or football field, or accelerate faster during a sprint to first base. 

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Of course, an overall balanced approach to legs training is key. So keeping power-building compound movements like the squat and leg press is a good start, as is adding hamstring-specific exercises like the stiff-leg deadlift and lying leg curl. Stiff-leg deadlifts place a lot of stress on the upper medial portion of the muscle (as well as work your core, lower back, and abdominals), while lying leg curls can allow you to pinpoint any weaknesses you have as well as target growth in the lower and outer portions of the muscle (the proper term would be biceps femoris). 

The stiff-leg deadlift is the more technical of the two moves; here are some tips to execute it properly:

1. Stand with your knees slightly bent and your legs about shoulder-width apart in front of a barbell; grasp the bar with a double overhand grip.

2. Lift the weight until you’re standing in an upright position, and then keep your back straight, push your hips back as you lower the bar to the top of the feet. 

3. When the bar hits the floor do not jerk your body back up; with control, return to the upright position and squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement. 

4. Avoid rounding your back. 

Add both the lying leg curl and stiff-leg deadlift into your routine by adding four to five sets and 8-12 reps. After three to four weeks, add volume (higher reps) or weight (lower reps). 

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