T Nation

Tight Hammies?


It seems that I have a limited ROM when doing RDL's or SLDL's.My torso will only go down about 45 degrees and my hams feel stretched to the limit.I think it's also limiting my squat depth as I can only go to just above parallel before my back starts to round.Will stretching increase this significantly or is there other ways to increase this ROM?


define "significantly"

really though, it will help most people.

static stretching on non-hamstring days, using the DL's on hamstring days.

I recommend books by Bob Anderson for static.

The trick to using the DL's is to cut back to less than 75% RM (don't want to risk injury) and go to just before your back rounds. Make sure your knees are relatively straight, and your back is arched.

consciously relax your hams for about 6 seconds then using only your hams bring the weight up about 4" for 6 seconds, now relax and allow the weight to drop about 5" and hold (actually "allow") for about 10 seconds. repeat about 3 times and you've gotten about 3-4" of progress.

do this "PNF" stretching once a week (more if you go as low as 50% RM and your CNS can stand it).

Another DL option is to go down with your knees bent, and your back straight, then alternately using your quads straighten your knees for about 10 seconds keeping your back straight and most (over 50% anyway) of your weight on the bent leg

search the forum for stretching and PNF


Stretching will definetly help, ensure you get your hams, glutes and calves. You should start seeing results in a couple of weeks.



Great.Thanks guys.


It'll definitely help.

PNF stretching is your best choice.

To correctly perform a PNF stretch you should follow these steps:

  1. Lie supine on the floor.
  2. Keeping your leg straight, raise it as high as possible until you feel a LIGHT stretch. This is the limit of your natural range of motion - going past it will activate the muscle spindles causing the hamstring to actually tighten up to prevent tearing of the muscle.
  3. Inhale and try to bring the leg down by giving a 5-10% resistance against a partner holding your leg up (NO MORE than 10%!!!). Count to 4-6 seconds as you inhale and give resistance with your hammie.
  4. Exhale, relax and allow your hamstring to be stretched back - itll be stretched back further since the muscle spindles are inactivated for a few seconds following the resistance. MAKE SURE you tell your partner to wait 1-2 seconds after you start to exhale and relax before rushing into stretching your leg further. Also make sure he does so in a GRADUAL and progressive manner as he feels the tension in your leg dissipate.

REPEAT this process THREE times. NEVER allow the leg to actually move when resisting the partner who's holding the leg up. Remember, this is NOT a strength contest and no one cares wether you overwhelm your partner with your strength. All is needed is a light 5-10% resistance with the muscle in a static position.


Inhale and flex the Quadriceps and try to bring your leg back even further. When you flex the hamstring's antagonist, the hammie is FORCED to relax. Exhale and relax as the partner holds the leg in this newly stretched position

Following this, inhale one more time on a count to 4-6 seconds while resisting the partner one last time. Exhale and relax as he/she holds your leg in this stretched position for 10 seconds.

And now you're done.

Remember, giving more than 10% resistance or moving the leg while giving resistance will hinder the results. All the resistance is for is to activate the golgi tendon organ and inhibit the muscle spindles which inhibit further stretching.

I can tell you from experience this is about the best form of stretching around, far superior to any static stretching.

ALSO, why are your hamstrings so severely tight and shortened? Its clear your lower back arches during the squat because the hamstrings cannot stretch enough at the hips, causing bad biomechanics - which put you at greater risk of injury.

It seems you may be overdeveloping your hammies in comparison to the quads.
When you overdevelop the hammies they adapt by shortening as the quads become weaker in comparison and more flexible.
Simply emphasizing the Quads will cause them to shorten somewhat, which in turn inhibits the overactive hamstrings, allowing them to relax and stretch.
Close stance squats, lunges and leg extensions all emphasize the quads.


I have always had tight hams and calves. At the bottom position of the stiff leg dead, my claves actually stop my descent before my hammies do!


Why the hell did my post NOT go through?



Diesel - thanks for the response.I'll try your suggestions.As for why my hams are so tight, I'm not sure.I've been training for 8 years and I've never really stretched much so that could be one reason! I've always had trouble developing legs in both size and strength and I would say my hams are under-developed compared to the quads.


Burke, give the following PNF stretches for the calves a go:


  1. lie supine, legs straight. Raise one leg, and bring the toes in until you feel a light stretch; hold 10 secs.
  2. Inhale and resist the partner's hand applyiing resistance for 4-6 secs.
  3. Exhale and relax while your partner brings your toes in towards you further.

Repeat 3 times, then contract the antagonist while inhaling to try to stretch the calve further. Exhale and relax while your partner holds the newfound stretched position. Repeat steps 2 and 3 once more and you're done.


As above, except hold the leg with a 90* bend at the knee to isolate the soleus more.