getting the hamstrings to fire properly

what kinda drills do you guys recommend to help getting the hammies to fire properly? Recently I tried a supine hip extension (similar to what women do in aerobic classes for the glutes) & my glutes seem to work real well but my hamstring just cannot contract at all which sorta puzzled me. Recruitment problem? When I sprint the adductors/hams/glutes tighten up real quick after the first run which is about as good as it gets for me in terms of activating the hamstrings, along with gym work of arched back straight leg dead/good mornings (which im pathetically weak in relative terms compared to the rest of my lifts) what sorta drills should I be looking at, pure hip extension or is there anything else I can add in? I’ve seen marlon devonish do a sorta backward sprint extending the hips high but I very much doubt I have the ability to do this, any help?

According to back expert Stuart McGill, this is the correct firing pattern!

In Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance:

McGill identifies a condition he terms crossed pelvis syndrome in which he claims the hamstrings and lower back are overworked due to the glutes not firing properly.

One of the corrective exercises he gives is to perform the exercise you described, and aim to contract the glutes, without the hams contracting at all.

So keep performing this exercise to keep your hip and leg muscles firing correctly!

im not sure whether this is my problem or not, would over active/hypertonic hamstrings be valueable for sprinters? I have heard of pelvic crossed sydrome but from what my lifts are (& my posture) i figured I had a slight form of kyphosis lordosis. i’ve started supplementing with 1leg hypers/pulley assisted manual hamstring curls which makes my hamstrings cry so I was quite pleased. thanks for the link, i’ve read a small amount from mcgill its about time I brought on of his book so thanks! just out of curiousity, do you know why he recommends activating the glutes without the hamstrings?


You havent got a problem accoring to McGill.

just out of curiousity, do you know why he recommends activating the glutes without the hamstrings?


Because if the hams are doing the work the glutes should be doing, a lot of strain is put on the lower back.

ok clear now! so they are firing properly just weak…


IMHO the only way to learn how to “fire” the hamstrings is through sprinting. Doing posture exercises is not something I would recomend to an athlete such as yourself because it would be the equivalent of punching through wooden boards in order to learn how to fight. Just because you can break a board doesnt mean you can fight, just like trying to contract a certain muscle during sprinting will most likely not mean bull when it comes to nitty gritty.

Concentrate on mental cues with movements, not muscles. Some poeple might disagree, but it’s what I teach. If you review some videotape of yourself, you will probably have a fun time learning what a difference using different mental cues can mean. Remember, performance is a kinetic chain, concentrating on any one thing isn’t something I recommend. Hope this helps you…