I’m 49 years old, FTP around 250ish. I have been training in some form for the last 10 years or more. Since earlier this year I have been having issues with my hamstrings, the easiest way to describe it is they get tired a lot quicker than everything else, forcing me to back off when riding. I did the club ride earlier with a NP of 220 for 3 hours, so a solid ride. My hamstrings are still buzzing.
I have had multiple bike fits over the years and not much has changed, particularly not this year at least.
I am not the most flexible person, but I also cannot see any real difference to 12, even 24 months ago.
I do weights in the winter and core most of the year, I am currently starting getting back into weights.
The issue is usually on hard climbs, I can be pushing fine 1 minute, the next I have to back off as the hamstrings start stinging. Quads are fine in comparison. Once the issue starts, it affects riding on the flats as well, but at higher efforts.
I tried dropping the saddle by 1cm today. I can’t say this made any real difference.
I am planning on putting in a block of weights work with a hamstring priority, to see if perhaps this helps.
Any other suggestions or ideas welcome!
You hit on a few different things already. Ever do a glute ham raise, like on a glute ham developer? I’d be curious how you do on something like that, same for walking lunges and how those feel for you. First as a kind of test to see how difficult those are for you and maybe later as exercises to strengthen weak points.
For whatever reason, I can be pretty gym “strong” but if I haven’t been doing either of those I can tell it.
Guess: Could be they are trying to compensate for a muscle imbalance. Maybe over developed quads?
I have been known to, yes. I did a set out of curiosity just this week and I felt strong. Even a single leg version felt fine. I have added hamstring curls on a Swiss ball the last week or so, they sting a bit!
I wouldn’t say I’m particularly strong in quads either, but I am leaning towards the hamstrings being comparatively weak. I am currently squatting 70kg for reps, my DL is not quite as strong.
Do you sit at a desk at work?
My usual workout;
Swiss ball alternating leg arm raise (I’m sure there is an official name, but can’t recall)
Reverse ab curl
Plank with leg tucks
Recently added Swiss ball hamstring curls
2-3 sets of each.
I am an office worker, but have a stand up desk and use that for the vast majority. I did have some major issues in lockdown with my lower back/posterior but seemed to have resolved most of this with core/weights/walking and that desk. This issue only started in earnest about April.
My squat is about the same as yours. My DL 100kg for 6 reps. With a trap bar 120kg for 8.
There’s probably too big a gap btwn my squat and my pulls, tbqhwy, but it’s unusual to have squat > DL.
I have planned on/started doing workouts with a priority on hamstrings, I don’t particularly like DLs as I have lingering back issues that seeem to play up when I left heavy in that movement. I have been doing single leg with KBs (40lbs) and these are okay.
I’d give this a try
And see how your hamstrings feel.
FWIW my core work mostly involves kettlebell conditioning, but I’ve got a decade on you. I’ve tried routines that had stuff like you posted, but it didn’t move the needle for me.
Ah, forgot that one. Yes, I do that as well!
You might go see a PT or massage therapist and see what they think. The good ones are amazing at finding things we don’t know about ourselves.
Not sure what it means when you say your hamstrings “sting”, but assuming nothing is medically wrong, a great exercise is the standing, single leg curl machine, albeit used in a different manner than most use it. Instead of standing with your arms on the pads, you bend over 90 degrees so that your torso is literally underneath the arm rests. With each hand grasp a spot on the frame of the machine so you are stable. Doing this creates maximum stretch in your hamstrings and enables great activation of the head that attaches to your hip. The end result is that you maximize work on both portions of the hamstring AND you also work your glutes. When you perform the movement, at the bottom when your leg is fully extended, you emphasize full extension and stretch, and as you flex the hamstring be sure you are fully stable and not moving in any way or trying to “throw” the weight up. Using the machine in this manner is like night and day compared to how most people use it (i.e. arms resting on the arm pads, very little lean in the torso or stretch in the hamstring). Be sure you warm really well so you avoid getting a pulled muscle!
Have you tried and running for cross training?
I used to do triathlon and actually felt my strongest when I did. I have since thought of doing a little running, but not sure I have the time or motivation!
Plenty of good advice above. I was having occasional hamstring issues for a couple years and on long hard efforts even a left hamstring cramp. Earlier this year, first race of the season, my hamstrings felt smoked post race.
Being fed up with this I started experimenting with a few fixes. For me, YMMV, it was moving my seat backwards a couple mm. Even though I’ve had bike fits, it seems I was using a bit too much hamstrings particularly when I was digging deep. For example, when I’m pushing really hard in a seated climb in a race. I’m now no longer pulling so much with my hamstrings through the pedal stroke and even feel more powerful.
I haven’t had hamstring issues since.
I would guess it is a bike fit issue, but I would think that after a while your hamstrings would get used to the fit and be ok. My hamstrings never get sore on my bike, but last week I rented a bike for a 50 mile ride and my hammies were screaming at me. Felt like the saddle was too low and my legs were never extending as far as they do on my bike, I kept having to get out of the saddle to stretch them out, and I never get out of the saddle on my bike.
Your hammies are weak.
Work on them. Deadlifts are your friend.
Also 220NP in a 3hr ride with 250 ftp is a beast ride. I think most people would have something troubling them after a ride like that.
May be a bit naive here, but dude already works his hamstrings out. In comparison, I do 0 weight training and I know for sure, my hamstrings aren’t particularly strong, but this issue sounds strange to me. I think fit and technique would be the culprits here. I know moving cleats back helps not isolate the calves which allow them to fatigue more slowly. Perhaps moving the seat back works similarly as @MI-XC says. I know there are times when you need to focus on something to make it stronger to push to another level, but this just seems more basic than that.
I’m not saying only the hamstrings hurt, it’s just a lot more comparatively. Started getting back into weights for winter with a DL or similar priority!