T Nation

Weak Hamstrings/Imbalance, Help Needed

Hey guys, I’ve been on the site for years but never posted until now.

A little background:
I’ve been training for years and have made very good gains in the past. I’ve now reached the point where my upper body matches if not has begun to surpass my legs…not good, noob mistake. Now I’m trying to rectify this. Problem is that everytime I squat or do leg press I get muscle spasms or tightness in my lower glutes/hamstrings. My quads are substantially stronger than my hams and this is causing me to have inneficient leg workouts because I can’t do a proper lower body push.

Now, what I’m wondering is how the hell should I go about strengthening my hamstrings and rectifying this imbalance as well as my leg flexibility.

A bit more information: stiff legged deadlifts, squats (even wit light weights or just bar), and lunges all give me muscle spasms in my hamstrings.

If someone could give me some good advice as to how to correct this it’d be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

I was going to suggest Stiff legged deadlifts. What are these spasms you’re having? Is it possible you just have terrible flexibility in your hams, and that they’re just plain weak?

This should go to the injury forum, anyways can you do any kind of leg curl without them cramping up, how do you know you have weak hamstrings? Any symptoms such as APT? Are you limiting salt or carbs?

I can do hamstring curls, the weight i use for that is about 1/5 of what I do for leg extensions. I can squat relatively heavy and feel it all in my hamstrings and glutes with very very little quad activation. I figure this is an indication of weak/crappy hamstring flexibility.

Well I always follow a relatively low carb diet. I eat roughly 200 g of protein, 100-200 g of carbs and 50-90 g of fat. I’m 5’9 200 lbs, thighs are 25", calves 17", arms, 17", chest 48", waiste 35"

What is APT? Think it may be just not enough stretching/warm up or not enough food?

I wouldn’t call it an injury so much as just a lagging bodypart. If someone knows a good warm up and routine to bring up my glutes and hams i’d be grateful

Sumo deadlifts, stiff leg deadlifts, box squats (really sit back), single leg leg curls, possibly glute ham raises. Incorporate all of those in somewhere and I can almost guarantee after a while your hamstrings will start to get stronger. Worked for me.

I found swiss-ball leg curls to be good for working up to ghr.

APT = Anterior Pelvic Tilt. Basically right hip flexors and weak hip extensors cause the pelvis to tilt forwards.

What technique are you using during your squats? Without evaluating you, I can only assume, but I’d be willing to say that you are probably lacking gluteal strength and not hamstring strength. Generally, if your glutes are cramping/spasming, you will feel it more towards the greater trochanter, rather than near the hamstrings. You are probably getting poor glute activity (for whatever reason) and causing your hamstrings to take the bulk of the load, creating additional stress at the hamstring’s origin at the ischeal tuberosity (which is what you are probably confusing for gluteal spasm).

Have you injured your low back or hips before? What is your mobility like? What does your overall training program look like? Warmup drills? Exercise selection? What are your ultimate goals?

Well I definitely don’t have APT. I do standard squats, go down to parallel, I squeeze the glutes and push with my heels. The motion is like sitting back and then exploding upwards. You’re right, it is higher up near the glutes that I experience this pain.

My mobility is not bad, I’m not super flexible as in standing up and raising a straight leg I can only raise my foot to knee level…probably not good i wouldn’t think. I do a standard Chest/triceps, back/biceps/ shoulders, legs split. I workout 5-6 days a week. No cardio or very little. I do a little light stretching and a few warm up sets before starting but as soon as I add weight and start engaging more muscle fibers thats when the spasms start. My ultimate goals are to bring up my legs a few inches and just get bigger overall and lean out. I’m not looking to compete but it is damn embarassing that my upper body is in great shape and my legs are pathetically out of shape to the point that it is now affecting other things like when i drop from the pullup bars I sometimes get the spasms as well as deadlifts at times or when I’m setting up for bench press.

Overall, I want to fix this issue, then work on my nagging shoulder and start pushing heavy weights again and properly. Could just be shitty flexibility and mobility…I’m hoping someone can point me in the right direction