Level Up Your Swissball Hamstring Curl

Hamstring Curl Game - INSTAGRAM

Level Up Your Swissball Hamstring Curl

The swissball hamstring curl is hands down the best knee dominant hamstring exercise to program for rehab and performance goals alike due to the ability to make easy and practical regressions. You can change the swissball height, limit how far to roll the swissball out, dig your heels harder or lighter into the swissball, or even perform just one part of the curl to focus on just the concentric or eccentric portion of the exercise. Strengthening the hamstrings are extremely important for the prevention of hamstring strains and risk reduction for ACL injuries. This article will show you how to level up your swissball hamstring curls and bulletproof your hammies for life!

Hamstring Swissball Curl

Sample PrehabX Video

HOW: Lie on your back and put both of your feet on the swissball. With your knees straight, perform a bridge by diffing your heels into the swissball to lift your hips up. Once up, slowly roll the swissball towards you by bending your knees. Once the swissball has rolled towards use, slowly roll it back out. Rolling it back out with control is the hardest and most important part! You can use your hands at your side if needed.

FEEL: You should feel your hamstrings working very hard to control the swissball movement.

COMPENSATION: Do not let the swissball move from side to side. It should only be rolling forward and backward. Make sure to only extend at the hips, and not the lower back! 

The hamstrings are an often neglected muscle group in rehab and performance programming due to the fact that it’s not always sexy to “isolate” a muscle group. Compound exercises like Romanian deadlifts definitely hit the hamstrings, but these closed-chain exercise variations are all hip dominant exercises, meaning they use the hamstring’s hip extension action. As a bi-articular muscle group that crosses both the hip and knee joints, the hamstrings perform both hip extension and knee flexion.

The most popular knee flexion dominant hamstring exercise is the Nordic Hamstring Curl. A recent study by Presland et al demonstrated that just adding 2 sets of Nordic hamstring curls of 4-6 reps was enough to reduce the risk of hamstring strains. While we are big fans of the Nordic hamstring curl, often times it’s too difficult of an exercise for people to perform or you need a partner or some sort of anchor to hold your feet in place.

 

Nordic Hamstring Curl Variations

READ: Nordic Hamstring Curl Regressions

The swissball hamstring curl solves both problems as there are a plethora of regressions you can implement and it’s a no-partner-needed type of exercise!

Perform Only Bridges

A bridge works both the hamstrings and the glutes. When performing an elevated bridge, you can increase the hamstrings to glutes ratio and bias the hamstrings even more. A swissball is a great way to accomplish this as it’s naturally a raised surface in comparison to the ground, but you must isometrically use your hamstring’s knee flexion action to prevent the ball from rolling away from your body even further.

Hamstring Bridge on Swissball Knee Straight

Sample PrehabX Video

HOW: Lie on your back and put both of your feet on the swissball. With your knees straight, perform a bridge by digging your heels into the swissball to lift your hips up. You can use your arms are your side to stabilize your self if you need it. The goal is to move straight up and down without any side to side motion.

FEEL: You should feel your hamstrings working very hard to lift your hips up and stabilize the swissball. You will also feel your core engaged to keep your body from moving.

COMPENSATION: Do not let the swissball move. Make sure to only extend at the hips, and not the lower back!

Limit the Amount of Knee Straightening

To regress the swissball bridge from above, you can bend your knees. The further the swissball is from your knees (less knee bending), the harder the hamstrings have to work to stabilize the swissball. Thus performing a hamstring swissball bridge with the knees bent will be easier on the hamstrings than with the knees straight in the previous example

Hamstring Bridge on Swissball Knee Bent

Sample PrehabX Video

HOW: Lie on your back and put both of your feet on the swissball. Bend your knees and perform a bridge by digging your heels into the swissball to lift your hips up. You can use your arms are your side to stabilize your self if you need it. The goal is to move straight up and down without any side to side motion.

FEEL: You should feel your hamstrings working very hard to lift your hips up and stabilize the swissball. You will also feel your core engaged to keep your body from moving.

COMPENSATION: Do not let the swissball move. Make sure to only extend at the hips, and not the lower back!

If performing the full hamstring swissball curl, you can even make the exercise easier mid rep by limiting how far out you roll the swissball. This is a great way to slowly introduce eccentric hamstring lengthening for an individual who is uncomfortable with that feeling.

 

Perform Only The Eccentric Portion

The eccentric portion of the hamstring swissball curl is the most important when it comes to a hamstring strain [P]Rehab. Hamstring strains occur during the lengthening/eccentric portion of motion when sprinting or cutting, thus to optimally prehab against future hamstring strains training the eccentric portion is a must! You can slowly acclimate yourself or your clients to just the eccentric portion of the swissball hamstring curl performing implementing the entire thing.

Swissball Hamstring Curl Eccentrics

Sample PrehabX Video

HOW: Lie on your back and put both of your feet on the swissball. With your knees straight, perform a bridge by diffing your heels into the swissball to lift your hips up. Once up, slowly roll the swissball towards you by bending your knees. Once the swissball has rolled towards use, slowly roll it back out. Rolling it back out with control is the hardest and most important part! You can use your hands at your side if needed.

FEEL: You should feel your hamstrings working very hard to control the swissball movement.

COMPENSATION: Do not let the swissball move from side to side. It should only be rolling forward and backward. Make sure to only extend at the hips, and not the lower back!

Allow The Hips to Come Down

As shown in all the swissball hamstring curl examples so far, I let my hips come down and rest between reps. This is a natural regression of the exercise as keeping your hips elevated the entire time doesn’t allow your hammies any time to rest – making it a lot harder!

 

Too Easy? Try it With One Leg!

If you’re looking to make the swissball hamstring curl even harder, try giving the single leg swissball hamstring curl a shot! Mind you, these are very challenging and hard to perform with good form in a slow and controlled manner. All of the regressions we discussed above can also be implemented when progressing to single leg swissball hamstring curls:

  • Perform only bridges
  • Limit the amount of knee straightening
  • Perform only the eccentric portion

Single Leg Swissball Hamstring Curls

Sample PrehabX Video

HOW: Lie on your back and put one foot on the swissball. Lift your other foot in the air like in the video. With the foot on the swissball, straighten your leg and perform a bridge by diffing your heels into the swissball to lift your hips up. Once up, slowly roll the swissball towards you by bending your knees. Once the swissball has rolled towards use, slowly roll it back out. Rolling it back out with control is the hardest and most important part! You can use your hands at your side if needed.

FEEL: You should feel your hamstrings working very hard to control the swissball movement.

COMPENSATION: Do not let the swissball move from side to side. It should only be rolling forward and backward. Make sure to only extend at the hips, and not the lower back!

 

The swissball hamstring curl is an amazing knee flexion dominant hamstring exercise that allows for easy micro-progressions or micro-regressions to find a suitable level of difficulty. Give these variations a shot and let us know how it goes!

prehabX

1 Comment
  • Eve
    Posted at 01:17h, 29 May Reply

    It’s a very interesting article about a great movment for hamstring.

Post A Comment
*
*
*