Hamstring Workout: Use Effective Hamstring Exercises to Fully Develop the Back of Your Thighs

Always an under-rated muscle group, the Hamstrings are essential in giving your thighs a balanced, better look from a variety of angles...after all, the way you fill your pants and the shape of your legs is three dimensional, so ignoring a muscle group as large as the hamstrings is like ignoring half of your thighs!

Not only is this region important for a well balanced look, its also the darling of athletic performance and functional training. In short, having strong, powerful hamstrings can help you move a lot better in a variety of athletic activities, reduce your risk of knee injuries and ligament tears, and help increase your overall strength & stability on Squats & Deadlifts, the King & Queen of lower body workouts.

Keep in mind that if you're looking to focus and specialize on the Hamstrings, you should only do that after having a certain strength level with major lower body exercises and only after having experience with weight training for quite some time...

Quick Tip: The best way to train your Hamstrings is to include them in a well-structured, total body workout program that scientifically plans all of these things for you: 1) volume, 2) intensity, 3) frequency, 4) progression, 5) exercise selection, 6) periodization & MUCH more...

 Discover the Secrets to Developing a Perfectly Balanced, Ripped Physique (95% of Gym Rats Have No Clue About This)

Here's an outline of the rest of this page:

1) Introduction of the Hamstring muscle group
2) Hamstring exercises
3) Quick training tips
4) Sample Hamstring workouts

Introduction & Basic Anatomy

The Hamstrings muscle group is made up of the Biceps Femoris, Semimebranosus and the Semitendinosus. Collectively, as a group, the ordinary function of these muscles is to aid in knee flexion, bringing the heels to the butt, and hip extension, moving the leg to the rear. However, in practical terms, the main function of the hamstrings is to decelerate(slow down) the lower leg in the sagittal(vertical) plane. In other words, the hamstrings helps slow down your lower leg during walking/running.

Hamstring Exercises

Wide Squat

- Stand with feet wider than hip distance apart.
- Toes should be slightly pointed outward and aligned with knees.
Hold weights in hands, resting on shoulders.
- Squat down until thighs are almost parallel with floor while moving buttocks backward, similar to beginning to sit in a chair.
- Return to start and repeat.
- Keep weight on outside of feet and heels. Start with a partial squat and increase as you become familiar with the movement. Do not let knees extend past the toes
.

Forward Squat

- Stand with feet about hip distance apart.
- Toes should be slightly pointed outward and aligned with knees.
- Hold weights in hands, resting on shoulders.
- Squat down until thighs are almost parallel with floor while moving buttocks backward, similar to beginning to sit in a chair.
- Return to start and repeat.
- Keep weight on outside of feet and heels. Start with a partial squat and increase as you become familiar with the movement.

Full Lunges

- Hold weights at sides, palms inward.
- Step forward, bending knees to 90 degrees as shown.
- Rear knee should almost touch the floor.
- Push back up to standing.
- Repeat
.

Leg Curl Machine

- Lie face down on ham curl machine.
- Place back of ankles behind pads.
- Pull ankles up and toward buttocks.
- Return to start position, controlling the weight.
- Repeat.
- To increase difficulty, perform with the toes pointed.

Dumbbell Deadlifts

- Stand with feet together, weights on floor in front of feet.
- Squat down placing chest against thighs.
- Tighten lower back muscles, grasp weights in hands.
- Keep head forward and back straight, and gently straighten knees until a gentle stretch is felt. - Hold for several seconds.
- Slowly stand upright.
- Keeping back straight, reverse the motion and lower weights to floor, keeping knees as straight as possible and hold for several seconds, then bend knees, returning to start position.
Note: Do not perform this exercise until you have been properly taught and observed doing the deadlift
.

Reverse Lunge

- Stand holding weights at side, palms inward.
- Step back with one leg until rear knee almost touches floor.
- Front leg should not extend past toes.
- Push back up forward to a standing position.
- Repeat.

Side Lunge

- Stand with weight in hands.
- Step sideways to left as shown, keeping trunk vertical.
- Push back up to starting position.
- Repeat sets to right side.

Seated Leg Curl

- Sit on knee table.
- Place bolster pads behind ankles.
- Begin with knees straight.
- Bend right knee and straighten.
- As right knee straightens, bend left knee and continue to alternate legs
.

See More Hamstring Exercises, Videos & Training Tutorials

Quick Training Tips

  • Hamstrings are made up of a higher proportion of fast-twitch fibers, which means that they respond well to low rep training with higher weights. This doesn't mean that high rep training shouldn't be included, it just means that some heavier load work should be included.
     
  • Wide squats and deep squats(below parallel) recruit the hamstrings along with the glutes. Pushing with the heels while preventing your knees from going past the toes puts more emphasis on the hamstrings as well.
     
  • One of the best exercises for blasting the entire back of your thighs is Stiff-Legged Deadlifts, a variation of the regular Deadlift in which there is no more than a slight bend in the knees throughout the whole raising and lowering motion.
     
  • When performing Stiff-Legged Deadlifts, start with lighter weights, keep the back straight without letting it round out, and make sure you have good hamstring flexibility. Avoid going to failure in this exercise and avoid using loads in excess of 80% 1 rep-max.
     
  • Deep Lunges, where your knees almost touch the floor, and deep Reverse Lunges, going to the rear instead of forward, are effective lunge variations for hitting the hamstrings.
     
  • Seated and Lying Leg Curls are two isolation exercises for the hamstrings, where you can go heavier on the weight(80%+ 1RM). It is best to do these exercises after Deadlifts and/or Squats.
     
  • If you're doing regular Squats & Leg Presses, your hamstrings are also getting a workout, so too many sets & exercises dedicated to the hamstrings would not be needed.
     
  • Make sure to lightly stretch the hamstrings in between sets and perform stretches after a workout to prevent them from tightening up and to reduce soreness post workout.
     
  • Sprinting is another way to really fire those hamstrings and help them develop. Make sure you're properly warmed up before sprinting, and avoid doing it after weight training. You shouldn't be able to maintain a sprinting speed for greater than 30 seconds without significantly slowing down.

Sample Hamstrings Workout

As we mentioned on the top of this page, its better to train your hamstrings with a well-structured, total body workout program...

But, if you feel that you've been lifting weights long enough and have decent strength in the major lower body exercises, then you can try the sample hamstring workout below to emphasize that entire region:

Wide Squats: after warming up, 2 sets of 10-12 reps
Stiff-Legged Deadlifts: 2 sets of 10-12 reps (don't go to failure)
Leg Curls: 2 sets of 6-8 reps
Reverse Lunge: 2 sets of 8-10 reps
*this workout will effectively train the glutes, and the glutes workout will train the hamstrings as well. Its a good idea to combine your glutes & hamstring training together.

Depending on your full weekly routine and how you train legs, this Hamstring workout can be done once a week and no more than twice. For a hypertrophy(growth) focus, rest no more than 2 minutes between sets. For a strength focus, extend rest times to 3-5 minutes.

 Discover the Secrets to Developing a Perfectly Balanced, Ripped Physique (95% of Gym Rats Have No Clue About This)

 

Upper: Abs | ArmsBack | Chest | Shoulders | Forearms | Biceps | Triceps | Lats | Full Upper
Lower: Quadriceps | Hamstring | Glutes | Calves | Full Lower