As we begin the new year, so begins a new weightlifting cycle across the California Strength online programs. During any accumulation phase, relentless work is placed on your hamstrings, causing them to work at full capacity every day of training. To accommodate this work load, your body will be in need of a good stretch to keep up with such a rigorous training cycle. You may have know the forward fold to be a good hamstring stretch but let’s talk about really getting into the belly of the hamstring where you will need relief the most. The following assisted variation allows you to not only focus on your form, but will produce a deeper stretch as well.
Setup Instructions & Cues
- To begin, attach a strap or thick band that doesn't stretch too easily to an anchor. In the demonstration video, I am using a bench press station as my anchor.
- Come to a seated position with your legs straight ahead, about hip distance apart.
- On the inhale, keep your legs facing straight ahead, flat against the ground. Your back is straight, shoulders square, chest wide.
- On the exhale, hinge at the hips while walking your hands forward with the strap and begin to fold. Do not allow your shoulders to collapse forward excessively.
- With each additional inhale; align your form to ensure that you are hinging at the hip, keeping your chest open and with each exhale, increase the stretch (by moving towards the floor) until you have reached an intensity comfortable to you.
- Take note of your breathes. On each inhale, check your alignment (legs flat on the floor, spine straight). On the exhale, continue to deepen the stretch.
The band-assisted Forward Fold stretch should be held for 30 seconds. Because you are using a strap, this stretch is more intense so enter the movement slowly. Only go so deep as you feel a solid stretch. Discomfort is expected, but pain, sharp or otherwise is not.
Do not worry about how far you are able to fold over, that is not your focus for this stretch. Instead, focus on hinging at the hips and avoid the urge to simply fold over. If you excessively round your back, you will release the true value of the stretch. If you maintain a straight lower spine while hinging at your hips, the stretch will be intense and as a result, most effective.
Sandra Arechaederra has actively practiced yoga for years but maintains a focus on its application for improving athletic performance. Sandra is an accomplished Olympic weightlifter in her own right, having medaled at the 2010 USA National Championship Meet, she continues her work with the California Strength weightlifting team on a weekly basis for mobility training and runs a mobility program implemented with the California Strength NFL Combine Prep Class every year. Sandra has her 200 RYT credential as a certified Yoga Teacher.