Stability Ball Hamstring Curl [Ep43]
How to Perform the Stability Ball Hamstring Curl
The start position for this hamstring exercise involves you laying on your back with both heels and the bottom of your calf muscles on the ball. You may want to put your elbows on the ground beside you to provide stability here, as you proceed to engage your core, clench your butt and lift your hips off the floor.
Maintaining this elevated position, with your hips off the floor, pull the ball in towards your butt, flexing both the knees and the hips as you pull your heels in towards you.
From the point where your can’t pull the ball any closer, slowly return the ball to the start position as you straighten your legs.
Aim to achieve 3 sets of 20, slow and controlled reps.
I’m often asked why I don’t get runners to lift their hips up as far as possible with this, as you’ll see some coaches do, keeping the hips pushed into extension as the knees flex in isolation.
Simply put, that’s not how the body works. The hamstrings are what we know as a bi-articular muscle group, meaning that they cross two joints – in this case, both the knee and the hip. Classically we categorise the hamstrings as flexors of the knee, and extensors of the hip.
However, the important point to make is that, as with most bi-articular muscles, when the hamstrings contract we only normally get their concentric action at one or other of the involved joints.
Think about it in running gait. When looking at the hip and knee in the sagittal plane, simply looking at flexion and extension, we only ever see two combinations – we see the knee flexing as the hip flexes, and the knee extending as the hip extends.
It’s these two combinations we want to mimic as we’re training the hamstrings using the stability ball hamstring curl.
Progress to Single Leg Hamstring Curls
So you’ve been practicing the stability ball hamstring curl with two legs, and getting pretty strong at it?
Maybe it’s time to progress the exercise and challenge yourself one leg at a time!
The exercise is very similar to the previous double leg version, except it significantly increases the load on the hamstrings, and of course challenges your core strength much more, as your body is now working asymmetrically.
The set-up is very much the same, except we now have to consider what to do with the free leg. I get my athletes to keep the hip flexed on the hanging side, as it seems to help with maintaining core control.