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Strong legs power you through runs, hikes, cycling events and dance class. They can also be a source of trouble. The major muscles of your upper thighs are the hamstrings, which are the three muscles at the back of the leg, and the quadriceps, the muscles at the front of the leg. When your hamstrings and quadriceps are out of balance, you are more likely to suffer injuries.
In many people, the quadriceps muscles develop more readily than the hamstrings. In runners for example, your quads pull you forward. The hamstrings act like a break to control you as you land. Many bodybuilders emphasize quad dominant exercises because the quads are вЂњmirror muscles" that look more impressive than the hamstrings when sculpted. Exercisers often execute lower-body exercises in a way that over-emphasizes the quads, such as not going deep in a squat.
When your quads and hamstrings are imbalanced, you are in danger of strains, pulls, tendinitis and tears in the hamstrings. Weak hamstrings rip under the load created by the contraction of the quadriceps and momentum from the hip flexors. Runners may experience slower speeds because the hamstrings operate inefficiently resulting in efficiency in the hip flexors and knee extensors. During exercise, weak hamstrings can also fatigue faster than the quads. Your quads keep you going, but your hamstrings may experience strain as a result of being pushed past their limits.
The hamstring pushup trains the hamstrings in minimal time. Prop a stability ball against the wall. Lie on the floor and place your feet on the ball. Slowly lift and lower your hips so your buttocks leave the floor. For an even harder version, lift one leg off the ball for each repetition. Single-leg Romanian deadlifts also train the hamstrings. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and lift your right leg behind you as you hinge forward from your hips, balancing on your left leg. Return to a stand to complete one repetition. Keep your abdominals engaged and your back straight as you complete each set. Perform two to three sets of about 12 repetitions of each exercise. For a more thorough hamstring workout, consult a personal trainer who can also help you execute the moves with proper form.
A quad-hamstring muscle imbalance is hard to rectify. Once you injure your hamstrings, it can take weeks or months to heal. Unless you take action to strengthen your hamstrings, you are vulnerable to reinjuring your hamstrings. Some athletes, particularly runners, think that because they run often, their legs are adequately trained, but only a regular strength-training routine that targets the hamstrings can address hamstring weakness and quad dominance.