By Josh Storms, FSU Strength Coach
Posterior Chain Strength &
History of Hamstring Injury 🥩
In the last 20 plus years of coaching at the Division 1 level I’ve helped countless young athletes in all sports, but primarily football, transition from high school into a college program. During this process year after year, I see these young talented athletes come in with many of the same common deficiencies in their physical development.
This is the most common area I find problems - Posterior Chain Strength & History of Hamstring Injury.
I am going to give you some tools and strategies to build and maintain those hamstrings. I won’t sit here and tell you that my way is the one and only way. I’m also not going to claim to be a world-renowned guru - this is simply what I believe in and what experience has told me works for the guys that I coach. I will say this though; last season we had only 1 game missed by a player with a lower body soft tissue injury. On a roster of 120+ guys that is a remarkable feat. This can be credited to several factors and training is surely one of them – but that started long before the season began.
Without going very deep into the research you’ll find repeatedly that once a hamstring is injured the re-injury rate is high. The best way to remedy that problem is simply to not get injured in the first place so we go about attacking that goal with a 3-prong approach:
- Teach Proper Sprint Technique
PRONG 1 – LEARN TO SPRINT
One of the primary causes of hamstring injury is flawed sprint technique, so we address building foundational sprint technique early and often in our program. I often see guys come in lacking in this area for 2 totally different reasons.
The first being the naturally fast super freak. Yes, he’s fast but he runs with bad technique and was never taught to be better because he was already fast and a coach didn’t think they had to intervene. Remember, just because you run fast doesn’t mean that you run well. This athlete will benefit from learning proper technique big time. Their sprint efficiency will increase greatly, requiring less energy when they step on the gas. Their likelihood of injury will decrease and lead to better training with less setbacks. Once that happens watch the freak get freakier as his sprint times drop.
The second being the big dogs up front, O-Lineman and D-Lineman. It’s rare that these guys were ever taught to run right because they’ve always been treated like fat kids instead of the BIG ATHLETES that they are. “Well of course you can’t run good, you’re huge” …bullshit. This is where what we do really shines and impacts careers. When these guys learn to create the shapes and postures of sprinting their whole world changes – not just on the field when they are getting to the second level in the screen game or chasing the quarterback. When it’s time to condition is where their newfound ability to run efficiently really pays off. And there is no big man out there that won’t feel great when they smash their goal times.
To sum it up; Run Right = Run Fast. But even more importantly; Run Right = Run Healthy.
You can’t get fast if you’re hurt so let’s stay health and get blazing fast. If you are looking for a place to start, I can’t recommend strongly enough that you read and watch “The 3 P’s of Speed” by Hunter Charneski.
PRONG 2 – TRAIN THE CHAIN
I’m going to share with you our biggest bang for your buck non-negotiable training tactics for the posterior chain. Keep in mind our goal here is to develop athletes, not powerlifters or bodybuilders, so our focus and tactics will be different in how we go about this. Our key here is the consistency and frequency of training exposure. We need our guys able to be their best on the field daily; and you can’t sprint, jump and cut very well if you are sore from high volume posterior chain training.
So, what do we do?
We spread this workload out through every session of the week, essentially micro-dosing our posterior chain training into every weight room session. We will hit 1-2 movements for 2-4 sets at a moderate to low rep range like 3-8 depending on the movement. Because this dose is small tightness and soreness are mitigated once you hit the field, because the frequency is often your total volume of work is high enough to progress.
That’s the secret sauce. Mastering the ability to hinge properly is a huge key to long term healthy and effective training that will carry over to the field.
How to do it right is far more important than how much you can do until your technique is dialed in. We keep our exercise selection basic, master the movements and then train them year-round including in-season.
These are our foundational movements:
- Nordic Hamstring (Also called Nordic Lean, Nordic Curl, Partner Hamstring)
- Glute Ham Raise
- Back Extension
- Reverse Hyper
- Single Leg DB RDL Variations
Here is the most important point you need to take away from this –
You need to be doing the Nordic Hamstring exercise…period.
There is no area more researched in performance training than hamstring injury prevention. In studies performed by researchers all around the world the one movement that continually comes up as a key indicator of hamstring health is the Nordic Hamstring exercise.
That’s powerful information, and now that you have it you need to act on it. Here is how we do it, and you can do the same.
We hit Nordics 3 days per week along with our main session. In the first session of the week we will hit 2 sets, second session of the week we hit just 1 set and on the last session of the week we will hit 3 sets. Skill position players will hit 5-6 reps per set and the Bigs will go 2-3 reps.
Technique is important here, the hips must be kept pushed forward and be the first thing to touch the floor/pad at the bottom of the rep. If the hips are hinged back and you look like an Instagram model you’re doing it wrong and you’ve cheated the benefit of the movement. Stay locked in tight and don’t be concerned about pulling yourself back up, the focus is purely on the eccentric lowering position of the movement, the longer and slower the fight the better. Once you hit the bottom just pick yourself back up, get your mind right and reset for the next rep – each one needs to be your best effort.
PRONG 3 – RECOVERY
You can’t run your machine at redline RPM’s every day and then be surprised when it breaks down. There is a reason they rebuild an F1 car every time they race it. You must support your hard work with hard recovery. You better be checking these boxes consistently if you expect real results to show on the field.
- Get The Right Amount of Sleep
- Stay On Top of Your Hydration
- Get Adequate Calories
- Proper Supplementation
- Consistently Train Mobility
- Learn Soft Tissue Work (Most of this you can do yourself)
If you commit to getting these areas squared away and show up to college healthy, strong and fast you are setting yourself light years ahead of your competition and getting a major jump start on your college career. Start Now, Do The WORK, Stay Consistent.
Josh Storms - Strength Coach at Florida State University