The Trouble with Hamstrings

Hamstrings suck.

Well, ok. They don’t really. They’re actually quite wonderful when they’re healthy.

But it is very difficult to do any type of lower body exercise without engaging said muscle group. And when that muscle group is not happy, engaging them can lead to increased pain and other problems.

Do you know how nagging a hamstring injury can be? I’ve had a dull, annoying, “hey listen to me!” feeling in my left hamstrings (specifically the lateral hamstring, my biceps femoris) for the past 3 weeks. After a much needed de-load week last week though, I thought I had given it enough of a rest to be all set.

Not so much.

On Monday, that “hey listen to me!” feeling turned into a “WTF are you DOING to me?!?” kind of feeling. Yep, I really pissed off that hammy when I finished off my lift with some glute-ham raises followed by 5×20 kettlebell swings.


Now, I’m not a complete idiot, so I knew when I was still feeling pain with walking by yesterday (Thursday), that my regularly scheduled deadlift/posterior chain day was going to need a little bit of altering unless I wanted to REALLY do a good job on that hamstring strain.

So here are the switches I made to protect myself from further injury:

Instead of:                                                                                 I did this:

Conventional DLs @ 135 lb                                                        Trap Bar Deadlifts 4×8 @115

Barbell Bulgarian Split Squats 3×8 ea leg @ 85 lb                     Same, only sets of 3 on L leg

Step-Ups w/ 40 lb, 3×8 ea leg                                                    Same

Romanian Dead Lifts 3×8 @ 115 lb                                            Scrap this

SL Roman Dead Lifts w/ 2 16kg KBs, 3×7 ea leg                       Scrap this

SO I did those 3 lifts (the Bulgarian Split Squats were not the best idea, my hammy let me know pretty quick, so that’s why the reps were REALLY low on that leg). And since I wasn’t going to be able to do any interval or hill work, I also added in a few upper body exercises and a little bit of metabolic work so that I could still get a full body workout in. For the metabolic work, I added in 3×10 box jumps onto an 18″ box (which I thought would hurt but were fine!), KB Swings 3×20, and 5×30 seconds on the battling ropes. (LOVE these)


All in all, despite being limited by my hamstrings, I was still able to get in a great full body workout without injuring myself further. While yes, I could have just pushed through the hamstring pain and done my conventional deadlifts anyway, I can guarantee you that I would have ended up in more pain for a longer period of time, and having to modify even more workouts down the road.  I also could have scrapped the whole thing all together, and just given up on today’s lift.

As I see it, modifying the way I did allowed me to still get a great workout in, and also to protect myself enough so that hopefully next week I can beast those deadlifts.  Win, Win*!

*That being said, if you have an injury, talk to a professional who can give you some safe alternatives to your normal program, don’t just go out there all willy nilly and hope for the best!

Now, my final test will be seeing how this hamstring strain holds up today….


WOO HOOOO!!! This is the first (and seeing as it’s already March, probably only) time I’ll be able to get out this season. AND seeing as this is my last full weekend off in a while, I’ve got to make the most of it, right?

I. Am. Pumped.

I’m all fueled up with my overnight oats, and I’m ready to hit the slopes.

Soaked overnight in the end of my Trader Joes PB jar: 1/2 C oats, 1 C almond milk, 1/2 tsp brown sugar, cinnamon.

Added in the morning: Raisins, coconut flakes, 1/2 banana


What fun things are you all doing this weekend?Does anyone else have any nagging injuries lately? Do you find it difficult to modify workouts around injuries?

7 thoughts on “The Trouble with Hamstrings

  1. Oh man how frustrating! You’re awesome for finding alternatives for workouts though, that injury has nothin on you! 🙂
    Hope you have a FABULOUS time snowboarding sista! I’ll be with you in spirit, I’m so jealous! 😀

  2. i am the queeeeen of the nagging hamstring injury so i totally feel you! and thanks for writing this! i had ACL surgery in 07 and they used my hamstring tendon to reconstruct the ACL – which was all fine and good for the knee, but left my h-string a disaster. it took forever to rehab, and i still notice the disparity between the two. fortunately, performance-wise, it behaves if i keep up with my GHRs, RDLs and curls….. but if i so much as leave them out for a week and try to sprint, faaaail. its frustrating but you learn to modify! you’re a star! enjoy the snowboarding!!

    1. Yes this can definitely be a problem after a hamstring graft ACL reconstruction!! I battle with this with a lot of my ACL patients. Keeping those hamstrings strong and pain free can be tough, but is definitely doable.

  3. So proud of you for taking care of yourself and knowing how to alter your workout xoxo

    I am pretty jealous of you going snowboarding missy! I snow “blade” (shorter skiis) but didn’t make it out this year 😦


    Love you so much

    1. I know I can’t believe this was the only time I made it out this year! I made the most of it though, and had a blast!!

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