The hamstrings, or the leg biceps, are the small muscle group located on the back of the thighs. Since these muscles are hidden from sight in most bodybuilding poses (at least the ones we see from the front), they are often overlooked in training. Admittedly, there are only a few exercises that directly hit them. Toss in the fact that they cannot grow very much (except in a few genetic freaks) and that they show minimal shape or definition until contest conditioning is achieved, and it becomes easy to see why they are among the least popular muscle groups to train!
Beginner and intermediate bodybuilders can benefit from just 6-10 sets of leg curls (seated or lying) and the occasional stiff-legged deadlift. However, as one becomes a more advanced bodybuilder and steps on the stage against more complete athletes, the need emerges to have bulging, separated hamstrings. Here is a sample routine, which can help you to pump the most possible blood into that muscle group, leading to gains in size as well as separation.
- Immediately followed by Stiff-legged deadlifts – 10 reps
- Immediately followed by Lying Leg Curls – 15-20 slow repetitions with only 70% of the weight used in the initial set.
This is a very simple, very effective routine. Complete 3 to 4 supersets of these three movements, and you’ll be limping back to your car! If you have the equipment available, you can replace the second set of lying leg curls with a hamstring machine, cable leg curls, or seated leg curls. The routine above is designed for those with an absolute minimum of equipment available, and who would like to immediately jump from one set to the next.
Even though the hamstrings are an uneventful body part to train, they should always been included in your routine each week. Training the quadriceps (front thighs) and neglecting the hamstrings creates a strength imbalance and can leave the knees or hamstring open to injury when training quads or doing deadlifts. Even if you dislike them greatly and never plan to step upon a bodybuilding stage, complete at least 4 sets of leg curls per week to ensure you are able to avoid injuring them in other exercises.
Give hamstring supersets a shot. You will discover the pump is different from that of any other body part. Aside from the increased hamstring size and definition, the power increase you’ll see on exercises like squat and dead lift might surprise you.
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