There are so many neglected muscles in the gym. When it comes to leg training, many people rely simply on squats or leg presses to be their “leg exercises” for the week. Many times, those bigger movements put a lot more emphasis on the quads than they do other places which can lead to muscular imbalances.
The hamstring is a muscle that can be easily overlooked on any given leg day. Just how people can focus on training biceps more than triceps, the hamstring is often put on the back burner to the quads. But just like the triceps to the biceps, the hamstrings help finish out a nice strong set of legs.
The hamstring is a part of the posterior chain of muscles (back, glutes, hamstrings, calves) and is composed of a group of muscles and tendons located on the back side of the upper leg. The hamstrings flex the knee joint, adduct (bring into the body) the leg, and extend the thigh to the backside of the body. They are used in everyday activities such as walking and running and are the main decelerators of the body, which means the stronger they are the quicker you can stop moving and even start back up to speed.
Like any muscle, having this base understanding will help in regard to how to target the muscle for effective training.
When it comes to the hamstring and working out, the hamstring needs to be isolated and trained just like any other muscle. In building up size and strength in the hamstring, this will help contribute to power and even balance in the leg with everyday activities. A perk of training the hamstring in an isolated format is you are also working other muscle groups as well at the same time, such as the lower back and glutes.
Stretching the hamstring is very important before, during, and even after training. The hamstring is one of the most pulled and injured muscles on the body because of the role it plays in every day activity. Many sprinters and athletes alike have suffered hamstring injury because the exertion in the muscle when running or sprinting.
When training hamstrings, understanding the concept of “stretching and squeezing” the muscle is important. The hamstring somewhat mimics the bicep muscle on the arm as the muscles are long, allows a body part to flex, and range of motion proves to be the focus when training as opposed to heavier weights. So, if you are wanting to develop nice hamstrings and also target the glutes and lower back, stretching that muscle out during the reps are vital.
The following is a simple and effective hamstring workout routine (remember to stretch frequently during the workout and get a good “stretch and squeeze” in each rep):
- Stiff legged dead lifts : 4 sets of 10-15
- Leg curls (lying or standing): 3 sets of 12-15
- Glute-ham raises: 4-5 sets of 6-8 reps
- Good mornings: 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Rest a good 2-4 minutes in between sets/exercises, stretching and moving around to keep the hamstrings warm and ready to go