Balancing Quads and Hamstrings


Question: I’ve read your articles and saw the statement ” fronts are for show, backs are for go”. What exactly does that mean in terms of training and performance in athletics? I do squats, front squats and leg curls with our team and we do some stiff leg dead lifts some as well. Is that a balanced routine?

Answer: The phrase “fronts are for show, backs are for go” refers to the difference between quads and hamstrings. In bodybuilding, the quads are show muscle when they are full, sweeping and cross-striated they can be a show stopper. The “go” part is the posterior movement chain which is made up of the calves, hamstrings and glutes that are the primary movers and protectors. Too often though, both bodybuilders and sports athletes hit a multi-joint exercise like squats hard, and breeze through hamstring work. In training with us, our clients begin with a hamstring exercise on leg training day and will finish the workout with a hamstring exercise followed by extensive stretching on the ” speed board”.

A stronger hamstring helps prevent wear and tear injuries from being as frequent and in female athletes it’s a positive preventative for ACL injuries and IT band inflammation.

When the strength ratio between your quad and hamstring is out of balance, it should be a 3:2, your IT band carries a greater workload during the deceleration that occurs with each stride and tends to become inflamed. Since the IT band connects on to the knee joint the result is often knee pain radiating into the hip. Training routines that focus too extensively on the quads and glutes or those that fail to adequately target flexibility in the hamstrings, Achilles’ tendon and psoas muscle tend to lead to an imbalance and set up the athlete for injury or a drop in performance( speed).

Target your hamstrings and make them a priority in your program.

God bless and keep training,