How to train hamstrings effectively

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Facts about the hamstrings

  • The hamstrings consist of the lateral hamstrings (long and short head of the biceps femoris) and medial hamstrings. (semitendinosus and semimembranosus).
  • Their primary role when it comes to strength training is hip extension and knee flexion.
  • The hamstrings are typ 2 muscle fibres (fast-twitching) and respond therefore, very well to heavy and explosive movements.
  • In reality, especially the body building world, isolation movements in higher rep range, have also shown great results.

Best hamstring exercises

To target hamstrings best, a combination of heavy and explosive movements in lower rep range and isolating exerecises in higher rep range is ideal.

When choosing exercises to hit your hamstrings you have to know that there are 4 different categories of hamstring movements. You should make sure to choose exercises from all of these categories to train your hamstrings effectively and grow these muscles.

1. Stretched-position hip extension movements

→ Straight-Leg Deadlifts

→ Good Mornings

2. Contracted-position hip hyperextension movements

→ Back Extensions

→ 45-Degree Hypers

→ Reverse Hypers

→ Straight-Leg Bridges

3. Stretched-position hip extension/knee flexion movements

→ Glute-Ham Raises

→ Kneeling Hip Extensions

→ Rolling/sliding/gliding Leg Curls (in my video I did hanging gliding leg curls)

4. Contracted-position knee flexion movements

→ Lying/seated/standing Leg Curls

Doing exercises from the first three categories, you will also hit the glutes while doing contracted-position knee flexion movements really isolate the hamstrings and cut the glutes out.

If you want to know how to structure an effective hamstring workout which also targets your glutes and will help you to build your butt and tone the backside of your legs aka the hamstrings, then have a look at my video!

This blog post and the workout are based on studies conducted by Bret Contreras.

A great article by him about hamstring training can be found here.

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