Swiss Ball Bridged Hamstring Curls for Optimum Strength
When it comes to strengthening the hamstring, the Swiss ball bridged hamstring curl (SBBHC) is definitely a challenging exercise to effectively work at targeting the hamstring muscle. This muscle is found in the back of your thigh. With this exercise, it utilizes your own body weight, making it adaptable for everyone.
Perhaps the biggest challenge you will face with this form of exercise is balance, as it requires you to maintain your balance on an exercise ball all while executing the curl. However, while it might take a bit of patience to perfect this exercise, there is no doubt that once you do, it will be a highly effective in getting optimum results in the strength, coordination, and appearance of your legs.
The Targeted Muscles
In addition to adding strength to your hamstrings, the SBBHC can also benefit other muscle groups in the leg as well. The popliteus (in the knee), gastrocnemius (in the calf), and the Sartorius and gracilis (in the thigh) all work together along with the hamstrings in allowing the knee to bend and curl the exercise ball.
Also, other muscles are worked in conjunction as the body tries to balance itself. Your hips, torso, and even ankles are impacted when the erector spinae, abs, glutes, and tibialis anterior (shin) all get a workout as they help to maintain your balance on the ball.
However, in order to achieve maximum benefit (and avoid injury) to all of these muscle groups, proper form during the exercise is a must.
The Right Results with the Proper Form
Not going to lie to you…it’s not necessarily an easy exercise. At least not in the beginning. However, with a little bit of practice and patience, the level of difficulty eases up significantly. To execute a proper SBBHC, do the following:
• Start by lying on the floor, face up, with both your arms stretched out at your sides
• Position both calves across the top of the ball, with both legs stretched out
• Create a bridge with your body by raising your back and hips off the floor
• Keep your torso stable
• Maintain this position while contracting the hamstrings when bending the knees
• Allow the feet to roll over the top of the exercise ball as you “curl” by pulling your heels back towards your buttocks
• Hold this position for a few seconds, and then roll back to the starting position
• Repeat these steps for the amount of recommended repetitions
Your physical therapist or trainer can recommend how many repetitions you should start with, and then go from there. It’s best to start out slowly and work your way into doing more reps as you become more accustomed to the exercise. But, on average, it’s typical to work up to about 2 or 3 sets of approximately 8 to 12 reps each set. If you become fatigued or it’s too painful, take a break between sets or cut back altogether until you gain more strength.
When to Seek Professional for Advice and Clearance
While it’s a valuable exercise to add to your workout regimen, especially if you are looking to strengthen your hamstrings, there are some cautions to consider before implementing this into your routine. Although, normally considered a safe option, it can wreak havoc on individuals with a history of back, knee, or hips conditions. The movement and positioning can cause these conditions to become more aggravated as a result.
It’s always best to consult with your physical therapist or physician before starting a new exercise if you have a history of back problems, or issues with the knees or hips.