The hamstring muscles, commonly referred to as the “bicep” of the leg, are probably one of the most under valued, overlooked, forgotten and undertrained muscles of the entire body. More than likely it’s because when you look at yourself in the mirror, they are hidden behind you and are rarely seen without the use of a big mirror and some really creative twisting. It’s kind of like a 40 year old man that’s hair is beginning to thin from the back, you don’t really notice it because you normally look at yourself from the head on position. Your quads are the muscles you see when you put your pants on in the morning and probably what you work out the most on your leg day.
Unless your some kind of gym fanatic or fitness competitor, the hamstring muscle will basically fall in line with your traps and calves and will never really be the focus on any of your regular training days and will more than likely not see the same type of intensity as some of your other muscle groups. The way you train your hamstrings will also be dependent upon your lifestyle, current activity level and the gym/fitness center that you currently attend. Unless there is a body building/fitness environment in that particular gym, many of the gyms will not have sufficient hamstring training stations. For those of you that randomly go to the gym just try to stay fit/for health concerns, you’re likely not going to pay close attention them. However, whether your a beginner or a gym rat, these simple tips and exercises will assist you in obtaining the 3 dimensional legs you have always wanted.
The Stiff Legged DeadLift
This is one of the monsters of all exercises (lifts) and also one on a short list of exercise movements that actually work muscles in both the upper half and the lower half of your body. I personally perform dead lifts twice a week, once when I work out my legs and again when I train my back. Being very similar to the squat in the muscles that are involved when doing this compound movement, which happens to be my favorite exercise hands down, the stiff legged dead lifts purpose is not only directed at hitting just the hamstrings. Different variations of the exercise can be used, again dependent upon your fitness level, it can also be performed with both a barbell or dumb bells. Executing the lift with proper form is mandatory in order to lessen the risk of injury. This is a power movement that will assist in developing increased leg, back, and overall strength. Standing in the erect position, hold the barbell or dumb bells with a weight suited to your needs at shoulder width. Keeping your core tight, chest high and knees slightly bent/unlocked, bend forward at the hips allowing the weight to naturally flow away from you and rounding your lower back as the weight is lowered. After pausing at the bottom of the movement when you feel the stretch, reverse the movement by contracting your hamstrings and glutes back to the erect, upright position. The sets and number of repetitions performed should be based upon your body and fitness goals. Four sets of 8 to 12 repetitions, with moderate weight would be a good place to start for beginning your hamstring development.