Quad Dominance

Quad Dominance

Quad Dominance

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of balanced strength in today’s day today life.  Squats are great and have their purpose, but do you think you can continue to strengthen the front of the legs and continue to ignore the back of the legs without consequences?
If your hamstrings are weaker than your quads a few things could happen

    1. Your hamstrings can tear from the overpowering load of a contracted quad as you extend your leg back from your hip.

   2. Your speed will decrease as you lose power from the hip flexors and knee extensors because your hamstrings tend to the contract earlier to stop the movement so that they are not overpowered by the strong quad.

Hamstring health is important for running fast as they flex the knee and extend the hip.  The stronger the hamstrings the faster you can stop and change directions, safely.

The old school teaches that the quads are responsible for speed, and this, unfortunately, has created a quad dominance. And this teaches that in Yoga the most important thing one needs to learn is mindfulness. Let’s talk about that:

Mindfulness in Yoga  

Remember that mindfulness, awareness is not about what happens in your physical body, whether you reach an ideal form or shape of an asana, but rather what is happening in your mind?
We all have within us a tremendous amount of wisdom and knowledge, it is known as our intuitive mind and yet we often find it hard to connect or trust this wisdom.  The mind is so busy with its internal dialogue of endless messages about life, our problems, feelings, etc…   This mental commentary that is often running nonstop we are often not even aware that it is there as it is being played out in our unconscious mind.  Yet it influences our feelings and perceptions and eventually, it creates everything that happens to us.

Becoming aware of this internal dialogue is the first step in changing the old patterns of thought as we bring it from the unconscious to the conscious mind.  Remember the mind does not know if it is real or not, conscious or unconscious.  All it hears is the thought

“I am not going to be able to do this”

“This is not going to work”

“I am not good enough”


Imagine if your inner dialogue sounded more like this

“Every day I am getting better and better”

“Everything I need is already within me”

“Perfect wisdom is in my hear”

So as you approach the mat today set an intention to become aware and mindful.  Remember that mindfulness, awareness is not about what happens in your the physical body, whether you reach an ideal form or the shape of an asana, but rather what is happening in your mind.

Mindfulness brings us into the present moment where we can begin to accept where we are today, with confidence.  As we begin to observe our thoughts and learn to elevate them, we are not repressing them nor get attached to them, we want to notice them and let them go.  It is important to not be too hard on our self as we bring these thoughts from the unconscious into the conscious mind by creating shame or fear but observe without judgment, and then just allows them to move on through.

An example I found I use a lot as my ankle is still healing, is that instead of referring to it as my bad ankle, I call it my healing ankle.  Or when I find that I am under the weather with the flu or some other an illness that brings me down, I prefer to look at my body as healing as opposed to focus on how bad I feel.

I realize that this does not cure my illness or heal my break but it causes a shift in my attitude.  You can also apply this to your practice, observing the limiting thoughts that keep you from exploring or trying a new way of being in your body.  Your mind may be your biggest obstacle.

As you leave the mat today, my hope for you is that over time you will develop better tools for handling of the life stresses that come with life with grace and ease.  

Imagine that like the Aborigine people of Australia, that everyone can read your every thought.  When a negative thought comes into your mind, and it will as we are all human, acknowledge it without judgment and then simply replace it with a more supportive uplifting and nurturing thought.

Set the intention to remind yourself that every day in every way you are getting better and better.

Now let’s come back again to Hamstrings and Talk about the functions of that:

The function of the hamstrings

1. Knee flexor
2. Hip extensor
3. Built for speed
4. Stabilize the knee
With that being said, we now need to look at ways to create length in the quads while strengthening the hamstrings.  There are way more asanas to stretch the hamstrings then to strengthen them, and way more asanas to strengthen the quads then to lengthen them.

We need a practice that includes less hamstring stretches and more ways to strengthen them, while also finding fewer ways to strengthen the quads and more ways to create length. That means less forward fold.  Yes, I know every sun salutation, Surya namaskar begins with a forward fold.  Well, maybe that is not the kind of yoga we need to be practicing.

More Back-bends, Bow poses, reverse plank, bridge pose, and table may be to help create more balance in strength and flexibility.  These exercises will help to strengthen the Hamstrings while lengthening the Quads.

So the next time your hamstring starts talking with you, instead of stretching it, try lengthening your quad.

I will be posting more about ways to lengthen the Quads, but for now, pay attention to your hamstring to quad strength ration.  What are you doing to build strength in your hamstrings or do you just assume when they are talking to you it is because they are tight?  I know I did, and now that I am changing my thinking, my Hamstring talks to me less and less. What have you got to lose other than that nagging pain in your hamstring?


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