I have two clients who have weak hamstrings and over dominant quads. I want to give them a cardio workout that will help strengthen the hamstrings. I'm considering prescribing some uphill backwards running (obviously in a safe environment!) with gentle forwards running back down the hill. What do you think or can you suggest anything else?
Backwards running uphill is a good cardio workout for clients with over dominant quads and weak hamstrings. Start with hills that have a gradual incline and have your clients start with shorter distances. They can do intervals with the length and frequency, depending on their current fitness levels. Gentle forwards running back down the hill is a good idea. You can progress to steeper hills as they get stronger.
Other modes of cardio are available that emphasize the hamstrings more than the quads. Walking or jogging backwards on a treadmill would work well if your clients are not comfortable running backwards on hills right away. They can hold onto the handrails for stability at first and let go of the rails as they get more comfortable with the motion. Have them drop their bottoms more to be in a lower and more stable position. Pedaling backwards on an elliptical machine is another option. Some preset programs on the elliptical machines instruct the participant to pedal forward for part of the time and then backwards part of the time. Do longer backwards intervals.
Strength exercises that would be beneficial for the hamstrings are the leg press machine with the feet higher on the platform (since this works the hamstrings more than the quads), the hamstring curl machine, hyperextensions and leg curls on an exercise ball. Pool workouts are also good for strength and cardio. One pool exercise your clients can perform is holding onto the side of the pool and doing straight leg pulls (with just a slight bend at the knees) in a scissors-like movement. Focus on pulling the legs through the water.