Nordic or Russian Hamstring Exercise


The so called Nordic or Russian Hamstring exercise has continued to grow in popularity, usually as part of an ACL prevention program. I will get directly to the point, this is a dumb exercise. Sure it works the hamstring, but once again it works the hamstring in isolation. Movement is dominated at one joint, the knee. It does work the hamstring eccentrically, but at very slow speed, no where near the high speed eccentric activity that occurs in running or in planting and cutting. It puts great stress on the distal hamstring. If you want to feel the burn, this is a god exercise, but as far as any kind of functional strengthening of the hamstring it has no value. It definitely is not in my toolbox of exercises. Incidentally I have first hand experience with this exercise going back 32 years. Sam Adams, the coach at UCSB, introduced this exercise to all of us who were there training for the decathlon. We felt we need more “hamstring” strength. There were no hamstring pulls in the group up to that time. Within six weeks of incorporating this exercise there were three hamstring pulls. I know this is anecdotal, but results and action speaks volumes. Go to the web page to see the article that Dean Benton and I wrote on Hamstring for suggestions of better exercises. If I had to choose one it would be the lunge. More on lunges tomorrow.
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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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