T Nation

Ham/Quad-Glute Imbalance


I’ve been working out for a while and I think I’ve developed a muscular imbalance, but it’s not the typical kind. Unlike most people, I believe my hamstrings are disproportionately strong to my quads and glutes. I attribute this to EMS treatments on my hamstrings alone.

You see, I weigh ~205 and ATG Oly Squat 335, but I can do 7 full range Natural Glute Hams, 5 of which have perfect form. Now, this isn’t necessarily bad, as I’m a sprinter, but it still seems like an imbalance.

What do you guys think? Is this strange? An imbalance?

RJ

I don’t think there is a problem with overly strong hammies. Usually these end up being the weak point.

OK, first of all we aren’t going to be able to tell if your hammies are stronger than your quads from a picture. And really, the site of another man’s hairy legs isn’t something I want to look at.

That said, it is very common for sprinters to have stronger hammies than quads. This is the dominant muscle of the two in sprinting. I also think it is a good thing for you. Strong hammies = fast, so don’t change it up.

[quote]SprinterOne wrote:
OK, first of all we aren’t going to be able to tell if your hammies are stronger than your quads from a picture. And really, the site of another man’s hairy legs isn’t something I want to look at.

That said, it is very common for sprinters to have stronger hammies than quads. This is the dominant muscle of the two in sprinting. I also think it is a good thing for you. Strong hammies = fast, so don’t change it up.[/quote]

Is it fairly true that you can’t pinpoint an imbalance just by looking at the size/proportion of muscles, or is it more of a strength ratio type thing?

Since when are quads important as far as performance? Don’t sweat it, unless you care about asthetics.

why do you have ems treatments on your hams? and 5-7 natural G/H raises isnt very good…

[quote]bruinsdmb wrote:
why do you have ems treatments on your hams? and 5-7 natural G/H raises isnt very good…[/quote]

I’m pretty sure most people on this site couldn’t do a single manual glute-ham raise…

[quote]bruinsdmb wrote:
5-7 natural G/H raises isnt very good…[/quote]

Get the hell out of here. You must have no idea what exercise he is talking about.

[quote]B Jav wrote:
bruinsdmb wrote:
5-7 natural G/H raises isnt very good…

Get the hell out of here. You must have no idea what exercise he is talking about.
[/quote]

I’ve never tried these. How do they compare in difficulty to GHRs on an elitefts GHR?

Natural GHR’s are pretty freakin hard. To remove any confusion for the readers, here’s a description:

-Get down on knees on a good, thick pad.
-Have a partner hold your ankles flat to the floor behind you, or wedge feet underneath a squat rack support or something.
-Lean forward as far as possible, without bending at the waist.
-Come back up (that’s the hard part).

If you can go all the way down without using your hands, that’s some good hamstring strength.

With that said, I don’t think 335 ATG squat is an imbalance with that hamstring strength. Seems about right to me, especially for sprinting. I think most people are imbalanced the other way, too much quad strength and not enough posterior chain. You don’t see great hamstrings near as much as you see great quads. I think stronger hams are much better, especially for your knee stability. I really think it contributes to much better ACL protection.

You don’t need to tip your workouts towards more quad work. Your fine. Maybe just change up excercises a bit to keep hitting the quads with new stimulus, but don’t worry about doing more quad work than ham work.

[quote]cap’nsalty wrote:
B Jav wrote:
bruinsdmb wrote:
5-7 natural G/H raises isnt very good…

Get the hell out of here. You must have no idea what exercise he is talking about.

I’ve never tried these. How do they compare in difficulty to GHRs on an elitefts GHR?[/quote]

They’re significantly harder since it’s purely knee flexion. Even doing partials is pretty damn hard when pulling yourself back up. Here’s the only decent vid I’ve seen.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3419848615516816460&q=ham+raise

[quote]beans wrote:
If you can go all the way down without using your hands, that’s some good hamstring strength.

[/quote]

Yeah< I go down and then back up without the use of my hands at all.

And to the poster who asked why I did EMS treatments on my hams. I do them because they are a great method to increase strength, especially in fast twitch heavy muscle groups. I only did them on my hamstrings because I have a cheap EMS unit and my hams and calves were the only muscle groups on which I reached full intensity of contraction.

Before EMS treatments I couldn’t do a complete natural GH raise, but a few weeks later I was able to bang out a few of them.

RJ

[quote]cap’nsalty wrote:
B Jav wrote:
bruinsdmb wrote:
5-7 natural G/H raises isnt very good…

Get the hell out of here. You must have no idea what exercise he is talking about.

I’ve never tried these. How do they compare in difficulty to GHRs on an elitefts GHR?[/quote]

On a GHR bench one is utilizing around 60-65% of their bodyweight for resistance. During natural GHRs, one is using ~90% of their bodyweight.

So, a 200 lb man capable of doing 5 natural GHRs would be able to do 5 GHRs on a bench while holding an extra 50-60 pounds across their shoulders.

FWIW the kinesiology book on my desk says quads “should be 25-33% stronger” than hams.

[quote]lummox wrote:
FWIW the kinesiology book on my desk says quads “should be 25-33% stronger” than hams.
[/quote]

Interesting. Does it say what excercises that is supposed to be measured by, like leg extension for quads and leg curls for hams?

RJ, I have the same squat at you, and the same bodyweight, but I am nowhere close to being able to do a natural glute ham raise.

What EMS machine did you buy, and what kind of protocol did you use?

Do you experience involuntary movement when using it? I used a very weak EMS machine on my finger flexors and found I couldn’t keep my hands from closing(probably because the flexors are much stronger than extensors). I am thinking this might be an even bigger problem with the knees and other joints.

Thanks for your time.

[quote]B Jav wrote:
cap’nsalty wrote:
B Jav wrote:
bruinsdmb wrote:
5-7 natural G/H raises isnt very good…

Get the hell out of here. You must have no idea what exercise he is talking about.

I’ve never tried these. How do they compare in difficulty to GHRs on an elitefts GHR?

They’re significantly harder since it’s purely knee flexion. Even doing partials is pretty damn hard when pulling yourself back up. Here’s the only decent vid I’ve seen.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3419848615516816460&q=ham+raise
[/quote]

I actually was trying to do these a couple weeks ago and my knees were hurting too much, so I changed it a little and did it on a swiss ball with my feet against the wall

[quote]Willus wrote:
RJ, I have the same squat at you, and the same bodyweight, but I am nowhere close to being able to do a natural glute ham raise.

What EMS machine did you buy, and what kind of protocol did you use?

Do you experience involuntary movement when using it? I used a very weak EMS machine on my finger flexors and found I couldn’t keep my hands from closing(probably because the flexors are much stronger than extensors). I am thinking this might be an even bigger problem with the knees and other joints.

Thanks for your time.[/quote]

You need to anchor your working limbs. For some muscle groups this can be more difficult.

I’ve found that when I’ve used it on upper body muscles around the shoulder joint I can’t go to absolute 100% or it feels like my arm might dislocate. Glutes, hams and quads are easy to set up but calves can be difficult to propperly anchor. I used unbrokenin hockey skates cinched tight but there was still a limit.

If the muscle is allowed to contract all the way it will hurt like a motherfucker and supposedly cause additional soreness.

[quote]shorty_blitz wrote:
B Jav wrote:
cap’nsalty wrote:
B Jav wrote:
bruinsdmb wrote:
5-7 natural G/H raises isnt very good…

Get the hell out of here. You must have no idea what exercise he is talking about.

I’ve never tried these. How do they compare in difficulty to GHRs on an elitefts GHR?

They’re significantly harder since it’s purely knee flexion. Even doing partials is pretty damn hard when pulling yourself back up. Here’s the only decent vid I’ve seen.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3419848615516816460&q=ham+raise

I actually was trying to do these a couple weeks ago and my knees were hurting too much, so I changed it a little and did it on a swiss ball with my feet against the wall[/quote]

I could never stand the natural GHRs either for the same reason. It felt like my knee caps were going to be ripped off. My last gym had a few actual GHR machines but sadly my current gym does not.

Unless it is negatively affecting your form on anything, I wouldn’t worry so much about imbalances until I got a bit bigger and stronger over all. You may want to try high rep and/or drop set squats if you are really concerned about quad size.