Hamstring and quad strength..Ratio

I have always thought that the hams should be about twice the strength of the quads. Today I was talking to a chiropractor and he adamantly disagreed with me and said basically to opposite. I didn't have any real evidence to support my position. Does anyone here have any sources that I could use?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Phil

Hamstring and quad strength..Ratio

Of course maybe I am wrong....

Hamstring and quad strength..Ratio

see i think this is one of those Q's w/o an answer, it depends on what you want to do w/ your body, you really don't want any imbalances, but "balance" is a relative term.

Todd Wilson's picture

Re: Hamstring and quad strength..Ratio

Phil wrote:
I have always thought that the hams should be about twice the strength of the quads. Today I was talking to a chiropractor and he adamantly disagreed with me and said basically to opposite. I didn't have any real evidence to support my position. Does anyone here have any sources that I could use?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Phil

Various biomechanics has espoused a specific ratio over the years have thrown out numbers that were supposed to prevent injuries, but while they have tested those ratios on a cybex machine, they have not realized that athletes don't compete on cybex machines. Optimal strength ratio between the knee flexors and extensors is dependant on the sport as certain sports have different strength requirements. Furthermore, regardless of how strong the hamstrings are in knee flexion, they also assist in hip extension.....seems like biomechanists might know that.

Long story short, assume your hamstrings and low back are not strong enough and make them stronger. Squat plenty and your quads will be.

However, if you want a test to perform. Weightlifters perform better when their front squat is about 85% of their front squat. A front squat that high a percentage of the back squat is a good indication of hamstring strength because the lower back is more or less taken out of the left and the stress is transferred to the hamstrings.

Hamstring and quad strength..Ratio

I have to try that 85% rule. It's really rare my hamstrings get sore from anything. I've also figured that meant they were relatively strong and not limiting my lifts.

Todd Wilson's picture

Hamstring and quad strength..Ratio

You may not be using the proper loading parameters.

Re: Hamstring and quad strength..Ratio

However, if you want a test to perform. Weightlifters perform better when their front squat is about 85% of their front squat. A front squat that high a percentage of the back squat is a good indication of hamstring strength because the lower back is more or less taken out of the left and the stress is transferred to the hamstrings.

I am not sure that this would be the case. The lower back cannot act as prime mover in any kind of squat, so it would seem to me that the main difference between front and back squats is that front squats hit the knee extensors to a greater degree. Back squats, with the torso angled forward, should recruit the hip extensors to a greater degree.

jwbruce's picture

Re: Hamstring and quad strength..Ratio

Todd Wilson wrote:
However, if you want a test to perform. Weightlifters perform better when their front squat is about 85% of their front squat. A front squat that high a percentage of the back squat is a good indication of hamstring strength because the lower back is more or less taken out of the left and the stress is transferred to the hamstrings.

just to be clear, this is a full front squat in comparison to a full back squat, correct?

thanks.

Todd Wilson's picture

Re: Hamstring and quad strength..Ratio

Will wrote:
However, if you want a test to perform. Weightlifters perform better when their front squat is about 85% of their front squat. A front squat that high a percentage of the back squat is a good indication of hamstring strength because the lower back is more or less taken out of the left and the stress is transferred to the hamstrings.

I am not sure that this would be the case. The lower back cannot act as prime mover in any kind of squat, so it would seem to me that the main difference between front and back squats is that front squats hit the knee extensors to a greater degree. Back squats, with the torso angled forward, should recruit the hip extensors to a greater degree.

The lower back assists in hip extension by stabilizing the lumbar spine. If it is not stabilized the glutes and hams cannot fire maximally. It would be like you pushing a car while on roller skates. In the front squat the torso is closer to vertical, this makes this stabilization unnecessary, as it only has to remain vertical and the glutes, hams and quads must primarily perform the movement. This being the case, the role of the glutes doesn't change very much as a result of the hip angle. However, the upright torso and the altered center of gravity increases the dependence on the quads and hamstrings. That being the case......

If you look at training logs of weightlifters. They perform best, make their greatest gains, and have the lowest incidence of injuries when their front squat is approxiamately 85% of the back squat, hence the recommendation.

Todd Wilson's picture

Re: Hamstring and quad strength..Ratio

jwbruce wrote:
just to be clear, this is a full front squat in comparison to a full back squat, correct?

thanks.

Of course.

Hamstring and quad strength..Ratio

Without external intervention the quads are stronger than the hams. Maybe 3:2 on average. Due to most training found in mainstream sources being overly concerned with the quads this often gets even worse.

When most people start serious strength training it is usually noted that hams are woefully deficient.

Having quads that are too strong can cause problems. It doesn't seem that you can get your hams to be too strong. The quads always find a way to stay close.

Bob

Todd Wilson's picture

Hamstring and quad strength..Ratio

Excellent points Bob!

Coaches, trainers, doctors, therapists, et. al. have all blamed weak hamstrings on various knee injuries....nobody has ever said that their hamstrings were too strong!

That's why it's always best to assume they always need to be stronger.

Look at it this way, INDY, NASCAR, street racers, drag racers, etc. all try to find ways to (legally or illegally; kinda like athletes) to increase their horsepower. You don't find many trying to find ways to increase their breaking power.

Essentially, for most sporting movements, the hamstrings and low back are where you get the horsepower from within the human body. Quads are basically the breaks in most situations.