Overall and total leg development should always be the overriding goal for any leg day you plan and subsequently complete and that includes your hamstrings. Of course, you can split your sessions up to have a quad dominant workout followed by a hamstring only workout later on in the day or on another, but the goal always has to remain one of complete development. In some instances, as your genetics start to shine through, you may find that you have been blessed in one area more so than the other. If this is you and you have already identified a need for more hamstring development, here are 4 great ways to improve upon that area of your physique.
Focus on Knee Flexion for Hamstrings
One of the most common mistakes made when trying to apply stress to this area of the leg occurs during any of the hamstring curl movements you can use. Whether it is the seated hamstring curl exercise or the lying leg curl, the biggest error that finds its way into the movement is the lack of full knee flexion. What happens instead, is the hips, glutes and lower back come into play resulting in the hamstrings losing that stress at the top of the movement. This is especially true during your top sets when the weight being used it at its heaviest. The glutes will lift up, your lower back will arch and all of that stress is lost on the hamstrings. So be aware of this, keep your hips pressed down against the bench when in the prone position and keep your hips down and back when seated and simply focus on knee flexion.
Use the Stretch
Perhaps one of the best strategies you can apply to your hamstring training is that of the stretch focus within the workout. Most of us have seriously tight hamstrings and a lot of that has to do with how we train and what we usually end up focusing on building (namely the quads). Due to the nature of all the quad work we do, the hamstrings never really have a chance to stretch and lengthen out. This is why it’s so important to focus on the eccentric side of the rep when training hamstrings and incorporate those exercises such as RDL’s, stiff leg dead lifts with dumbbells, reverse squat machine good mornings and any other exercise that provides you with an opportunity to stretch the hamstrings out while under load bearing weight.
To eliminate the chance of having a dominant leg override the non-dominant leg when trying to stimulate the hamstrings evenly, try using unilateral movements instead. When you use this approach, you can really zone in and focus on how each hamstring group feels during the contraction and extension of the exercise. Slow it down to really maximize the mind to muscle connection you should be looking for and be in tune with how the muscles move and respond to the resistance you’re applying to it.
Point Your Toes
The last little tip that you can use here is to play around with the position of your feet by pointing your toes in different directions. Just the act of doing this will transfer the tension on your hamstrings to different areas left to right, top to bottom. It’s just as simple as pointing your toes inward and outwards, pointing them up and down or side to side. Sometimes this is something you forget about and don’t think about while in the midst of a set or when setting up, but it will prove to be a significant strategy you can employ to ensure you are hitting and targeting all of the muscle fibers you should be focusing in on for full hamstring development.
Hanging hamstrings when viewed from the side just looks awesome. Clearly delineated hamstrings and the separation of the cords when viewed from the back, is probably the most impressive sight of all. Very few people possess both but when viewed on a physique, really pulls the entirety of the lower body altogether. Do your best to apply the same level of attention to your hamstring development as you do your quads and calves and watch how your lower body evolves and grows. The best foundation is the one that maintains its integrity as a whole. Be the person with the strongest foundation so that you can be the person with the strongest physique.
Author: Dana Bushell
Gym Star Team Member