Muscle forces and fascicle behavior during three hamstring exercises

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2022 Jun;32(6):997-1012. doi: 10.1111/sms.14158. Epub 2022 Mar 26.


Knowledge about muscular forces and fascicle behavior during hamstring exercises can optimize exercise prescription, but information on these outcomes across different exercises is lacking. We aimed to characterize and compare lower-limb muscle forces and biceps femoris long head muscle fascicle behavior between three hamstring exercises: the Nordic hamstring curl (NHC), single-leg Roman chair (RCH), and single-leg deadlift (DL). Ten male participants performed the exercises while full-body kinematics, ground reaction forces, surface muscle activation, and biceps femoris long head fascicle behavior were measured. Mean fascicle length was highest in the DL, followed by the RCH and NHC. Fascicle lengthening was higher in the NHC compared with the RCH and DL, with no difference between the RCH and DL. Biceps femoris short and long head, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus peak forces were generally higher in the NHC compared with the RCH and DL, while mean forces during the eccentric phase were generally not different between the NHC and RCH. Peak forces in the NHC coincided with low biceps femoris long head and semimembranosus muscle activation. The NHC generally has the highest peak hamstring muscle forces and results in more fascicle lengthening when compared to the DL and RCH. The NHC may therefore be most effective to promote increases in fascicle length. While the NHC may be effective to promote biceps femoris short head and semitendinosus strength adaptations, the RCH and DL may be more effective to promote strength increases in the biceps femoris long head and semimembranosus.

Keywords: Nordic hamstring curl; deadlift; musculoskeletal modeling; single-leg roman chair; ultrasound.

MeSH terms

  • Exercise
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Hamstring Muscles* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Resistance Training* / methods

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