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The Dark
Knight
eknight private msg quote post Address this user
Since it's come up a few times in various threads and I've been asked about it, rather than hijack a member's log, I thought I'd post some info here.

To start, let's look at the knee, which is a biaxial joint- meaning it moves in two planes of motion, not a uniaxial joint like the elbow, which is a hinge joint and only moves in one plane of motion. The elbow's only movements are flexion and extension in the sagittal plane. That's all it can do, because any other movements are limited by the olecranon process of upper ulna fitting into the olecranon fossa of the humerus.




The articulation of these two bony landmarks limits motion to only flex-ext.

The knee is a different story. It is a biaxial joint allowing flexion and extension in the sagittal plane, but also some internal and external rotation in the horizontal plane. The tibia and fibula are not directly articulating on the femur, so what prevents hyperextension, anterior & posterior translation of the lower leg, or excessive varus or valgus? A few things- dynamic stabilization of antagonist muscles, and the 4 main ligaments of the knee- the two external (MCL and LCL) and the two internal (ACL & PCL).

So what causes the knee to extend? Primarily, the four muscles of the quads: the Vastus medialis, lateralis, intermedius- which run from the femur to tibial tuberosity; and the Rectus femoris, which runs fro the anterior-inferior iliac spine to tibial tuberosity.

Any time that the quads work to extend the knee, they do so by pulling the tibia forward. This is called anterior translation. If the ACL wasn't inside the knee, the tibia would literally move forward away from the patella and rest of the knee joint. That's the primary function of the ACL- limiting anterior tibial translation.

So, how do we screw that up, training for looks or the "pump" instead of training our bodies the way they're supposed to be trained? We do tons of squats, leg presses, lunges, and (*shudders*) worthless leg extensions (more on those in a bit). Then, as an afterthought, we do a little bit of hamstring work, and call it a day.

This is a recipe for knee problems of the ultimate degree. Dominant quadriceps activation that is not offset by appropriate hamstrings activation will create anterior tibial translation and increase ACL loading. The ACL can only handle so much stress before it ruptures- partially, fully, or with a tibial alvulsion (an avulsion is an injury in which a body structure is forcibly detached from its normal point of insertion- inother words a chuck of the tibia just pops off with the piece of the ACL that didn't tear).

Because of this, in any program, adequate direct hamstring work is a must. It should be comparable in volume to quad-dominant work.

When working the hamstrings, deadlifts are not enough. If you look at the three muscles that make up the hams- the semitendinosus and semimembranosus originate on the ischial tuberosity and attach to the tibia, while the Biceps femoris long head originates on the ischial tuberosity and attaches to the fibula and the short head originates on the femur and attaches to the fibula. Got all that? What it means is that while two of the three muscles of the hamstrings are responsible for hip extension (ie, deadlifts), the other one, is more active in knee flexion. Any hamstring work that does not involve some sort of leg curls, is not only incomplete, but not sufficient to offset quad development.

One last thing- about leg extensions. They're functionally worthless. For starters, almost nothing that the lower body does in real life is an open kinetic chain movement, but it goes beyond that. Remember the RF originates on the hip? Well there's a principle in kinesiology called Active Insufficiency. Active insufficiency refers to over-shortening of a muscle that crosses two joints, and isn't able to adequately do it's work at either end because of this over-shortening. When hip is flexed (ie, you're sitting there in the leg extension machine), the RF is actively insufficient and unable to properly extend the knee. So, not only are extensions open kinetic chain, they're also not optimal from a hypertrophy perspective of the quads. Lastly, when you're sitting there extending, the knee is under much more stress than it needs to be for two reasons- first, the force on the knee is shear from a weight placed at the most distal portion of the lower extremity, causing a ton of torque to the knee (not compressive force, as in a squat or leg press); second, because the hamstrings are completely removed from the movement, anterior translation of the tibia is occurring with nothing to counter-balance it.

OK. Done. Questions? -3X
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_RudeCrew private msg quote post Address this user
If I squat 5x5 3 times a week. Would 4x15 of pull throughs 2 of those 3 days be enough?
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FiremanSi private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by eknight
We do tons of squats, leg presses, lunges, and (*shudders*) worthless leg extensions (more on those in a bit). Then, as an afterthought, we do a little bit of hamstring work, and call it a day.

^^^This is why i have fucked up knees and struggle with knee pain daily.
NOT enough direct hamstring work.

If you don't do leg curls are their any alternatives??
I can't think of any as the rest incorporate glute and lower back invovlment and it seems like it's leg curls or the win ??

Leg extensions NEED TO DIE !!! They fucked up my knee royally.
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AestheticBrah private msg quote post Address this user
I have a torn quad in the upper region and started doing leg extensions because they didn't bother it as much. Long story short now both my knees hurt..

Will never do those again and won't let anyone I train with either. Thanks this is some good information.
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AestheticBrah private msg quote post Address this user
I vote to sticky this.
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The Dark
Knight
eknight private msg quote post Address this user
@_RudeCrew IMO, no. I'd still add some curls.

@FiremanSi reverse curls are nice alternatives to leg curls.



Ideally, you'd want a slower eccentric portion to really keep cross bridge formation longer. -3X
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Trev182 private msg quote post Address this user
I have been doing the above^^ but i go slower and right to the floor! Dont no if thats better or worse, just what i seen on youtube haha
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ryan_929 private msg quote post Address this user
I could do with a list of hamstring exercises if you care to share some.

Only hamstring orientated ones i 'have' at my gym are SLDL's and seated leg curl.
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The Dark
Knight
eknight private msg quote post Address this user
There's a pretty extensive list here: http://www.exrx.net/Lists/ExList/ThighWt.html

-3X
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ryan_929 private msg quote post Address this user
Many thanks
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Frostshock private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by eknight
Because of this, in any program, adequate direct hamstring work is a must. It should be comparable in volume to quad-dominant work.


So would you basically shoot for a 1:1 ratio volume wise? Currently I'm doing

Power days:
Squats 3 sets of 3-5
Hack Squats: 2x6-10
Leg Press: 8-12
Deadlift: 3x3-5
Lying Curls: 2x6-10
Seated Curls: 2x6-10
Calves: 5x8-12 Heavy

Hypertrophy days:
Speed work with Squats: 6x3
Squats: 3x8-12
Hack Squats: 3x8-12
Leg Press: 2x12-15
RDL: 3x8-12
Lying Curls: 2x12-15
Seating Curls: 2x15-20
Calves: 7x15-20 Lighter

Basically the way PHAT is laid out but with minor tweaks. I completely removed Leg extensions because it made my knees feel crappy even before I knew they increased risk of injury. Second I replaced SDL with Conventionals because I want to improve my deadlift.
Main question is if my power day is okay with conventional deads as far as hamstring to quad exercises and if the volume squats on my hyper day offset my hamstring work for that day. I know squats and deads activate hams to an extent, but I'm not sure if it's enough to call my routine balanced.

Great info either way, I'm always giving reps for the tons of knowledge you bring here.
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jmill private msg quote post Address this user
Sometimes I am restricted to getting my workout in at home and my equipment is a barbell, a bench and two dumbells. When this happens I usually just do romanians to hit my hamstrings. Are you aware of any exercises I could do to include some knee flexion. I have a swiss ball I can do bodyweight leg curls on but this is hardly enough to offset quad development. Thanks in advance.
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OptimusPrime private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmill
Are you aware of any exercises I could do to include some knee flexion.


Lunges. Squats. And you could use bands if you have any to mimic movements you would otherwise do on Hamstring equipment.
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jmill private msg quote post Address this user
I do squats and lunges but without direct hamstring work there would be an imbalance with quad/hamstring strength. Investing in some resistance bands would help a lot. Thanks for the idea.
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The Dark
Knight
eknight private msg quote post Address this user
@Frostshock I think that set up is fine. -3X
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TyrannosaurusFlex private msg quote post Address this user
@eknight I love you brother!
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nick3825 private msg quote post Address this user
I completely blew up my left knee a few years ago (completely tore acl, pcl and mcl in one go) thought I had a pretty decent rehab period, but don't think I'll ever get to 100%. The only exercises i feel have helped are back squats and single-leg DL. Still have major hamstring strength issues. I think the problem is my hip flexors over-compensate and take over (for example, stepping over a hurdle). Tried the eccentric curls but can't kneel properly as I had the patella tendon graft. Any ideas? Would Glute Ham machine be a better option?
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OhhLoLo private msg quote post Address this user
closer feet placement on the leg press machine would be an alternative to leg curls for quads without it causing the knee stress?
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nick3825 private msg quote post Address this user
Yeah i find single leg on leg press ok. I think my glutes aren't firing properly in some movements. Lunges are ok too, might just stick with those and do more on the left side. I think I'll stick to trying to get as close to full strength on the left side before trying heavier squats, deadlifts.
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The Dark
Knight
eknight private msg quote post Address this user
@nick3825 yes to the glute-ham.

@OhhLoLo any door placement variations on the leg press will only effect eccentric hamstring activation, which isn't bad, but is also incomplete. -3X
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databas1c private msg quote post Address this user
I agree with ek that GHR's are great for the hamstrings, but if you have problems kneeling then a glute ham raise might not be ideal. It's essentially done in a kneeling position. It's also extremely demanding on the hamstrings, and a lot of people (because of weakness or innervation problems) have difficulty properly doing a GHR. If you can do it effectively though, go for it!
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jonrivs49 private msg quote post Address this user
@eknight. A video would be great.. haha
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Devil82 private msg quote post Address this user
I'm a bit late on this one, but I'm currently on PHAT and according to that program I should do extensions. Leave that out and just substitute with more squats?
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Elminister private msg quote post Address this user
No, questions, just big thanks. Always a great read.
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The Dark
Knight
eknight private msg quote post Address this user
@Devil82 or lunges. -3X
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Devil82 private msg quote post Address this user
@eknight ty for the answer, another one if you have time, I've been using search functions but couldn't find the answer. Squat, atg or not? from older post you said definately atg, in newer you said to go between 90 to 100 degress to spare my knees, since my knees are dear to me and a friend who recently got his strength coach degree is also nagging me to not go below parallel. Should I go atg or not? I've got no problem with me knees right now. And I use a high bar olympic way of squating.
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AKK private msg quote post Address this user
leg extensions have been used to fix runners knee.

not completely worthless.
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The Dark
Knight
eknight private msg quote post Address this user
@Devil82 I would never go ATG.

@AKK not familiar with that and find it dubious. Exercises are generally not used to "fix" knees. They're used to strengthen specific weaknesses and correct postural faults. -3X
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AKK private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by eknight
@Devil82 I would never go ATG.

@AKK not familiar with that and find it dubious. Exercises are generally not used to "fix" knees. They're used to strengthen specific weaknesses and correct postural faults. -3X


Im just going by Sir Lyle Mcdonald.

if you search leg extensions bodyrecomposition or leg extensions lyle mcdonald there are a couple forum threads that he makes a few comments on.
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Xandar private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by eknight
There's a pretty extensive list here: http://www.exrx.net/Lists/ExList/ThighWt.html

-3X


That site is the shiz.... been using it for the last several years. Good find and post.....

My leg day:

Squats
Leg Press
Walking Lunges
Lying Leg Curl
SLDL(although I slightly bend the knee)
Hip Trusts

I think I'm gunna suck it up and do the reverse curl now. I just hate that my gym doesn't have a glute/ham curl machine and the damn machine benches are so narrow.
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