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Pulled Ham: Conditioning?


Hey all. I'm writing to ask for conditioning exercises/workout schemes that can be done with a pulled hamstring.

I've been doing the Waterbury Summer Project for the last 6weeks or so and seeing some AMAZING results. Unfortunately, about 60 hours ago, I pulled my hamstring. I "felt" a loud pop and a shot of pain. My hamstring now throbs a bit and I get shots of pain when I stretch it or go up stairs. I had some spasming yesterday, but that seems to be over. Honestly, I don't think it's very bad and I've even been able to go up stairs a little today w/o pain.

Anyway, I want to keep up my "leaning" momentum if at all possible. I was thinking of trying to stick with the "Waterbury" style of lifting 3 times a week (heavy/med/light) with conditioning exercises at the end of the workouts and thrown in on 3 of the "off" days... and this is where I'm looking for advice:

Can anyone suggest some form of "upper body" conditioning drills?

tabata squats, HIIT sprints, jumping jacks, etc are all out. Maybe tabata pushups? Maybe one-legged conditioning drills? I'm hoping my healing continues and I can finish of the WSP after a few weeks of healing and taking it easy...but I'll play the by ear and see how the leg feels.

Any and all advice appreciated.



Sorry to hear about the pull gambit. I just re-injured my hamstring yesterday playing a soccer match, so like you, i'm off the leg for a good few weeks. Hate it, but that's life.

Firstly, a "pop" sounds pretty serious so I hope you're getting that looked at - you might want to see a PT and figure out how to ease back into leg work.

Anyways, I have no idea re: Waterbury's regime, but if you want to do upper body conditioning I would stick to upper body complexes and/or upper body metabolic circuits. What exercises you choose are really up to you and depend on how much pressure you can put on your hamstring. Can you lift while standing? or do you need to remove all pressure from the injured leg and do only seated work?

At any rate, the point is, pick about 5-6 upper body lifts (pushups and pullups would be great for this too) and go from one to the other with no rest in between. Repeat a 4 times. Here's an idea:

There's also another way to do this which is to pick 3 sets of 3 exercises. For every set of exercises you do 8 reps per exercise and just cycle through all three exercises for 10 minutes. Once the ten minutes is up you go on to the next set of exercises for another 10 minutes (8 reps per exercise), and then the last 10 minutes w/ the last set of exercises.

You should be out of breath in all these instances, if you're not the weights not heavy enough or your not working hard enough.

Good luck! and speedy recovery.


Thanks man, this is what I was thinking of too. I've never really done complexes that didn't require at least one "lower body" exercise. But I think I should be able to dream something up. I've got 45min before I have to leave for the gym. I'm going to dream up a few complexes now.

The leg is getting a lot better quickly. Was able to do stairs yesterday. I went on a long walk with the wife (although a lot of limping on the way back). Couldn't have done either of those things 24hours previously. So things are looking up!


Here's my ideas for complexes w/o lower body. Any advice or criticism is welcome.

Complex A: Preacher bar
BO rows
French press
Upright rows
reverse crunch

Complex B: DBs
Arnold press
1-armed rows
Hammer Curls
lateral raises

The plan is 4x10 w/o rest and maybe 2min between (setup and drink).


Here's some ideas... you can alter these to fit your needs, but can't you still do bodyweight squats and bodyweight RDLs/GM's etc?




Thanks PB Andy.

I'm not quite ready to do bw squats/rdls/gms. I can go up stairs pain-free now (slowly) but I still develop a limp when walking for a bit. Today I felt a few "tweaks" picking the bb up off the ground.... I'm going to take it really slow (I'm not feeling young anymore).

I think I'll probably try out the upper body one you have posted above. And, as I improve, I'll probably give 'em all a shot.

Thanks again.


So yesterday (8 days after the injury) I tried biking for 20min (slow/moderate speed, no intervals or anything). Felt okay while I was doing it but felt a good bit of fire later that night.

Earlier that week I tried a "complex day" between two TBT days...it didn't really work. I mean, that day worked. But the following day I was so sore and "tight" I worried about another injury, so I trained "light" and took the next day off.

I'm going to switch up my lifting to a splits w/ lightweight complexes at the end. I'm hoping after another week I'll be able to start doing bodyweight tabatas and maybe bike sprints.


I'm actually in a similar predicament. I have bursitis in my knee and I can't do any lower body work right now. Here's what I did last night. Let me know what you think.

A1: Lat Pulldown--0 sec rest
A2: DB Shoulder Press--30 sec rest

*10-12 RM on both lifts, ended the set when form began to slow. 50 total reps each lift (took about 7 total sets of each I think)

B1: cable row--0 sec rest
B2: push-up--30 sec rest

*10-12 RM on rows, same thing. 50 total reps on rows. 100 total reps on push-ups (this also took 7 sets)

Not a conventional conditioning workout by any means, but with the combination of moderately heavy load and minimal rest it was quite effective.

Best of luck.


Honestly, I didn't want to say it but I thought you were being a bit too optimistic. You said you were limping on your way home from the walk, which is something you don't want when coming off a hamstring pull. You want to make sure your gait is as natural as possible while the muscle is healing. Limping is a sign you're pushing it a bit too much.

Your new plan sounds good. Sounds less aggressive. If you do bike you should do recumbent for the time being. Eliptical is a better option to that. To get blood flowing.

I'm sorry to ask, and if i'm being a annoying just ignore me, but have you seen a doc or PT? Hamstring strains are a bitch to heal and you want to make sure you're doing the right thing.


Gambit, hammies are a bitch, but it sounds like you're doing OK with it. I agree that you should see a PT, just in case, but you've also got to take it easy and not re-aggravate it. If you were getting paid to play a sport or something, rushing it would be a little different. No offense, but you're in a "leaning" phase. In the big picture, that's not as important as getting healthy. If you don't take care of this and slow down, it's going to stick around a lot longer. That's not what you want.

I don't remember you saying it, but you absolutely need to be icing it every day for at least 20 minutes a pop. That's going to flush out some of the old blood. Using it will bring in new nutrients, so you want to use it, but not over do it. As soon as you can, start doing 1-leg leg curls with REALLY light weight so you can bring in new blood and keep the rest of the hamstring active. You don't want the whole thing to atrophy and be set up for another injury. The number one reason for a hamstring injury is a previous injury that wasn't handled properly, so be sure to keep it strong. Gradually build up the weight as it feels better. You want to push it to the point that it's working without going to far and aggravating it. You have to listen to your body.

An anti-inflammatory like Advil will also help reduce the swelling. Another product I found that is like magic for me is called Nighttime Recovery from Advocare - https://www.advocare.com/10107709/Store/ItemDetail.aspx?itemCode=P3201&id=B. I've used it several times and it totally cuts down on my recovery time from injuries. It's like an herbal supplement, but like I said, it's like magic on injuries for me.

You should be able to either start biking or elliptical soon. The elliptical usually works well. If you have access to a Sci-Fit elliptical, you can get the upper body involved and really crush yourself. You may also want to try running backwards. That often feels much better on a pulled hamstring. Good luck, man.


Make sure you let us know how it's going.


Tabata DB push press should do you good.


Thanks for all the help everyone. I took my "gym time" yesterday and went to a PT instead. Basically, he told me that I could go "until it hurts." Honestly though, I didn:t like the doc and won:t be going back. He seemed hurried (they were quite busy) and didn:t seem to like when I asked "why?". I may try to find a new one if this injury doesn:t get better.

The leg is getting better daily. I:m a bit frustrated because I was doing so well w/ my workouts and had really found a routine that works and that I had hoped to keep. Instead, I:m dreaming up new workouts... but enough of my frustration.

Here's my plan for this week. I'm writing it up now, so any comments or help would be appreciated.

Day one (Mon): off/doctor

Day 2: Pull
A: Pullups 5x5
B1) DB Bentover rows
B2) DB upright rows 4x12
C1) Bi Curls Preacher bar
C2) hammer curls dbs
D) cable-row and pushup complex suggested by JS above
E) elliptical or bike (depending on what:s open at the gym) 5 min (to see how it feels more than anything else)


Day 3 (W): Push
A) Bench 5x5
B1) Neck Press 3x12
B2) DB flys 3x12
C) Close-grip bench
D) Tabata DB push Press
E) Elliptical if I:m feeling up to it


Day 4 (Thursday)
Gym is closed, so maybe some light DB work at home and/or a walk. Stretch

Day 5: Complexes

Complex A: Preacher bar
BO rows
French press
Upright rows
reverse crunch

Complex B: DBs
Arnold press
1-armed rows
Hammer Curls
lateral raises

The plan is 4x10 w/o rest and maybe 2min between (setup and drink).

Elliptical or bike for 20min if ready.

Day 6: Arms
(specifics to be determined)

Day 7: off and reassess where I am.


Hey, I really do appreciate all this advice. I:ll be icing now (I had not been other than a few days after the injury). I hope the elliptical will help to. I just wanted to make sure to really say how much I appreciate the advice. Now off to the gym.


No thank you Gambit! I actually find it helpful hearing what others have to say re: their injuries since like you, I'm a bit skeptical of my doctors. HAH!

I will say though - "go until it hurts" isn't bad advice. My PT got pissed that I decided to test out my hammie and do some light jump-roping etc. the other day, and all I could say was, "it didn't hurt".

I think its just a matter of listening to the experts and using only the "relevant" information they give you. What's relevant depends on you and how you feel your injury moving along...

That training looks good! Good luck!


So it's time to reassess. The leg is getting better. I can do the elliptical pain free. I tried a heavy-ish push press the other day and had some pain that night though. I think I'm going to copy the above workout for another week. But, I'll add jumping jacks and maybe some bodyweight squats/GMs/Deads (or maybe pick up the bar or something) to see how it goes.