Welcome to ‘The Art of Movement’ - my weekly newsletter!
This newsletter is not just an opportunity for me to touch base with my dear patrons and show my gratitude for your monthly support, but also to offer you a 5 minute, easily-digestible read around the world of health, fitness and exercise. Here I will troubleshoot many common difficulties my clients experience, offer practical, actionable solutions for you to put to work in your life immediately, and of course provide my weekly motivation in the form of a favourite quote, and a takeaway lesson from it.
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CIRCUITS IS BACK! - Tuesday 2nd August @ 6:30pm on Turnham Green, Chiswick
Edition 27 - Healthy Hammys
Today I thought I would give you a brief rundown of my favourite exercises for keeping the hamstrings long, strong, and fast, for better running, jumping and lifting performance, as well as a healthier posterior chain with reduced incidence of lower back pain and discomfort.
1. Nordic curl
As many people know, I rarely stop banging on about nordic curls, and took a keen interest in studying them during my university years. Due to most of us being excessively front-body oriented, the posterior chain always needs a regular dose of heavy loading and activation to balance out our strength biases, and keep the back of the body strong, durable and mobile. Nordic curls allow us to strengthen the hamstring while it is lengthening, which helps reduce our susceptibility to many injury scenarios, most commonly while sprinting and changing direction, and they can also help us move better and run faster.
2. Single leg romanian deadlift
Similarly to the Nordics, this exercise also allows us to strengthen the hamstring while it is lengthening. However, the added perk to this one is that we are doing so while balancing on ONE LEG, which is the key principle to understand with running and most athletic movements - we are always on one leg. Therefore with the SLRD we are able to replicate the position of the limbs during sprinting, forcing us to emphasise ankle, knee and hip stability, and there is research to suggest that the ability of this exercise to mimic running, makes it more transferable to athletes than the Nordic curl.
3. Glute bridge walkouts
The theme of strengthening while lengthening will continue to be a common theme here, and walkouts are a great exercise for a beginner who needs to work on this. Simply going into the glute bridge and shuffling the feet away from the body as far as the hamstrings can tolerate. The hard part of this one is digging the heels into the ground at the furthest point possible and clawing your way back to the start.
4. Glute Bridge Sliders
Very similar to the exercise above, however rather than the feet shuffling out in a motion that mimics the impact of running, the feet stay in contact with the ground resting on pads which slide along the floor. You slide both legs out simultaneously, keeping the hips off the ground so you remain in hip extension with the glutes activated, and again, pull yourself back to the start from the furthest point.
5. Swiss ball leg curl
The great thing about this exercise is that it offers a level of instability that we can really benefit from, as it changes the way our nervous system perceives the movement, and we have to develop new motor skills to adapt to carrying out the leg curl while balancing the ball at the same time. The exercise predominantly focuses on strengthening the hamstrings concentrically (as they are shortening), however you can create an eccentric workload on the way back by slowing down the extension of the knees and digging into the ball as hard as possible!
“Never bet against the person who just keeps on showing up” ― Sahil Bloom
Movement of the Week: Try the 5!
Have a go at each of these exercises and see how you feel attempting them. Get in touch with how easy or hard you found it, and which aspects of each movement challenged you the most. Obviously some of these exercises are more advanced than others, so if you are new to strength training, please ensure you are accompanied by a fitness professional when attempting the nordic curl, single leg deadlift, or swiss ball leg curl.
That’s all for this week! Please spread the word about my Patreon channel so more people can enjoy the videos and newsletters!