Hamstring Workouts – 3 Rules to Improve Your Size
Hamstrings might not be the highest muscle on the list of “must make bigger this year” for many, but they certainly do deserve more focus than most people give. Not only do your legs look so much better when the hamstrings hang off the back, performance in pretty much every area also goes up.
Bigger deadlifts, bigger squats, bigger overhead press… Bigger everything! Not to mention the fact that 80% of people who complain about lower back and knee pain do so because they’re hamstrings are weaker than baby’s milk!
Below I’ve enlisted 3 rules for bigger and stronger hamstrings, follow them with precision and you will get results.
Improve Your Hamstring Workouts
Rule #1 – Be Fast
Every muscle will have it’s own unique fibre architecture, the hamstrings are usually found to be very dense in explosive Type 2a and Type 2b “fast twitch” fibres. This means spending too long with high rep, slow rep tempos isn’t really the most fruitful way to go about strengthening these powerful muscles.
To make your hamstrings respond, training them according to their unique DNA do the following:
- Be explosive and powerful through every concentric lift.
- Resist the weight in the eccentric to load the same fibers.
- Aim for 6-10 rep range.
You can warm up with more reps to “activate” the muscle fibers, but really for good old fashioned growth you want to stick to high speed lifting (always controlled though!) and low reps.
Rule #2 – Just “Close” Your Knee Joint
So much of the movement on leg curls tends to come from the hips and even the lower back – this isn’t good at all! All this is doing is using momentum to shift weight which means that you’re not isolating the hamstrings properly and you’re also straining your lower back area.
The simple rule when doing leg curls is this, just “shut” the knee joint and open it again. Use that “hinge” to activate your hamstrings, nothing else!
When doing lying leg curls if you can’t keep your backside down rather than in the air, the weight is too heavy! The only movement is to come from your knee joint, don’t forget that!
Rule #3 – Go For Volume!
Whilst opting for explosive fast rep work on hamstrings it pays to increase the volume. Instead of doing just 3-4 sets, I like to go for 6-10 sets on lying hamstring curls with the lower rep range.
Then I will look to do this twice a week, so that the increased frequency also harnesses the power of heightened muscle protein synthesis stimulation.
In essence to me, hamstring training is about:
- Being explosive, working the fast twitch fibers.
- Using lower rep ranges.
- Using plenty of volume across the week.
- Avoiding excessive hip/lower back engagement.