Strong hamstrings are a must for active individuals, whether they’re a serious athlete or just someone who’s after general fitness. While no one rarely offers compliments such as “that’s a nice set of hamstrings”, this often-forgotten muscle group is in fact one of the most important ones.
Hamstrings play a strong role when it comes to the stability and overall health of the knee joint, with studies strongly suggesting that weak hamstrings contributing to an imbalance in the quadricep-hamstring strength ratio is one of the biggest culprits behind anterior cruciate ligament injuries. When it comes to movements involving sudden deceleration and changing of directions like those observed in sports like basketball and football, a strong set of hamstrings is also a must.
While compound movements like deadlifts and glute-ham raises are great for building up overall strength on the posterior chain, they tend to focus on only one movement mechanic of the hamstrings – hip extension. Similarly, isolation exercises like leg curls only target knee flexion. A good hamstring specialisation programme would ideally have an athlete train both aspects, and there certainly isn’t anything wrong with performing both such movements in the same training programme.
That being said, not many people of the general population would be comfortable with the idea of dedicating one entire training session solely towards hamstrings. Futhermore, existing or current back injuries would make it difficult to perform loaded movements like the deadlift. The slideboard curl represents an excellent way to train the hamstrings in a fashion that requires little to no technical expertise and features no involvement of the lower back.
The slideboard curl is performed on the floor in a supine position, making it very stable exercise as far as balance is concerned. Starting in position with the knees flexed and hips raised, gradually push your legs forwards and extend at the knees while simultaneously lowering the hips. Complete the movement by drawing your feet back in, flexing the knees and extending the hips at the same time. It’s important that the hips move in tandem with the knees (the hips should never stay permanently lowered or raised) in order for this exercise to be truly effective.
There are various methods of progression when it comes to the slideboard curl. You either attach a resistance band to your feet to incorporate additional resistance during the concentric phase of the movement, or you can position the slideboards along your upper back to make use of the weight of your upper body as load. The slideboard curl can also be done one leg at a time, with the other crossed over at the knee. It may not be the most pleasant of exercises, but the slideboard curl truly works wonders for your hammies!
- Myer, G. D., Ford, K. R., Barber Foss, K. D., Liu, C., Nick, T. G. & Hewett, T. E. (2009), “The relationship of hamstrings and quadriceps strength to anterior cruciate ligament injury in female athletes”, Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, 19(1), 3-8
- Human Kinetics (2010), “Preventing Noncontact ACL Injuries”