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High-Intensity Hamstrings Training

Take Home Points

  1. High-intensity hamstrings training causes EIMD and impairs performance.
  2. SMR may alleviate soreness. 
Many use resistance training in their personal training, boot

camps, and sports training. Resistance training is used for enhancing muscles ability to apply power. This helps athletes reach maximum force in the shortest possible time. Resistance training also helps transform body composition, creating more lean body mass (muscle mass). Plyometrics are frequently incorporated in sports training for improving muscular power. If a plyometric muscle action is performed with high volume and/or intensity, it will often cause delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) (Sarabon 2013). This lasting pain sensation is one of the most common reasons of soreness after intense exercise.

The hamstrings muscle group is used during high-intensity exercise such as sprinting, jumping, and kicking. Hamstrings strains are quite common and damaging training could improve explosive strength, minimize hamstring strains. Studies that have been done on exercise induced muscle damage (EIMD) in the lower extremities have been on the quadriceps muscles. There have not been too many studies looking at the effects on the hamstrings.

Sarabon (2013) investigated the changes in jumping performance, static balance, isometric strength and fast stepping during a 5-day recovery period following a damaging bout of drop jumps and leg curls. Before the exercise testing the eleven young subjects had biochemical markers (creatine kinase, aspartate aminotransferase, and lactate dehydrogenase), perceived pain sensation, physical performance (squat jump, counter movement jump, maximal frequency leg stamping, maximal isometric torque production and maximally explosive isometric torque production), kinaesthesia (active torque tracking) and static balance tested (Sarabon 2013).

The results showed decreases in maximal isometric knee flexion torque production, the rate of torque production, and majority of the parameters for vertical jump performance. No changes were found in kinaesthesia, static balance and fast stepping. The major decrease in performance and increase in perceived pain sensation started 24 or 48 hours after the exercise.

Damaging exercise substantially alters the neuromuscular functions of the hamstring muscles, which is specifically relevant for sports and rehabilitation experts, as the hamstrings are often stretched to significant lengths, in particular when the knee is extended and hip flexed (Sarabon 2013).

The results showed reduced performance in vertical jumping, maximal voluntary contractions and maximally explosive contractions, while changes were not present in the static balance and fast frequency leg stamping (Sarabon 2013). An athlete’s main goal during training is to prevent the onset of EIMD. The efficiency of training could be affected. Enough recovery (120 hours) with mobility techniques should be provided. Further studies should focus on sport specific movements and also on comparison to their antagonists.

COR provides athletes and those trying to stay in shape self myofascial release (SMR) exercises for those experiencing soreness. These exercises can be used with a baseball, tennis ball and foam roll and reduce soreness. The purpose of these exercises is to provide a Myofascial release which is a soft tissue therapy for the treatment of skeletal muscle immobility and pain. The physiological consequences of these techniques are still being studied, but do reduce soreness. Reduced soreness means a greater training capacity, less altered biomechanics, and less likely risk of injury. Ensure your program incorporates these exercises!


  1. Sarabon N, Panjan A, Rosker J, Fonda B. Functional and neuromuscular changes in the hamstrings after drop jumps and leg curls. J Sports Sci Med. 2013 Sep 1;12(3):431-8. 

 Written by Coach Chris Barber.