Have you ever been told you’re ‘quad dominant’? Ever wondered what that means? It typically refers to those who have well-developed quads, compared to other muscle groups or that they use their quads for everything.
Is ‘quad dominant’ a scientific term? No. It's more of an observational term for someone who tends to use their quads for everything. I’d say you're likely quad dominant if your quads fatigue during non-quad dominant exercises.
You know who you are. No, you shouldn't feel your quads during glute bridges. They’re not called quad bridges. Even if the weight is too heavy or your position is all wrong, there are several other muscles you should be using first.
Another example of being ‘quad dominant’ is someone who lacks the ability to sit back in their squat, or actually travels forward during the descent phase of the squat. You may have next-level ankle mobility but you’re also lacking hip involvement.
Now, these are examples of people or things I see in the gym. When I see this kind of person in the gym I typically develop a program that is heavy with hamstring and glute dominant movements. Now, as I said before, there isn't actual research that coined the term ‘quad dominant’. There is research the identifies the significant lack of focus on hamstring strength after injury.
This particular study looked at female footballers some of whom suffered an ACL injury in the past. What they wanted to see was how knee flexor (hamstrings) strength correlated to the risk of suffering a hamstring injury.
12/84 participants previously suffered an ACL injury. 4/12 that had a previous ACL injury also suffered a hamstring injury AFTER completing their ACL rehabilitation. 1 out of 3 players had a hamstring injury.
What about those that had no history of an ACL injury? 2 out of 72 suffered a hamstring injury. Pretty big difference, eh?
They also found that those who had an ACL injury had weaker hamstrings on the injured side. AND they were all weaker than the non-ACL injury group.
Let me summarize. Those that had a history of ACL injury were significantly more likely to also sustain a hamstring injury. Those that had an ACL injury also had weaker hamstrings that those that did not.
So, ‘quad dominant’ may not be a technical term, but it's very much a thing both in the gym and within our rehabilitation. For reference, the current ACL rehabilitation guidelines recommend the following in order to return to sport: hopping in various ways, running and quad strength. No mention about hamstring strength.
Is hamstring strength really that important? Yes. In fact, the hamstring muscles can actually perform the same role as your ACL. The ACL is a ligament in your knee responsible for providing stability, or prevention of forward movement. Your hamstrings can act in the same way!
So yeah, they’re kind of important. Now I know this may not mean something to you if you haven’t suffered an ACL injury before. I want you to know this, increased hamstring strength has been shown to decrease your risk of suffering a hamstring injury.
That's great if you're a sporting athlete, but what about an #EverdayAthlete? Like I said before, people tend to be quad dominant. This means your movement patterns tend to favor your quadriceps and not your glutes and hamstrings. A more developed training program with emphasis on glutes and hamstrings may just be the thing you need to increase performance and decrease your risk of injury.
If you’d like to learn more about decreasing your risk of injury and increasing your performance, click here to book a session.