Two things are absolute rules in the gym. You don’t squat in the smith machine and you can never have too much hamstring muscle. The lesser known of the dominant leg muscles, this is the kind of muscle, when developed right, gives proper shape to your legs and defines your physique. Here’s our top 5 exercises to develop some sick hammies!
1. Leg Curl
An obvious choice for isolating your hamstrings and great for a warm up or a finisher in any workout. Do remember to not bounce the weight when performing the rep and try to slow each rep down for maximum burn! A useful tip: perform this exercise single legged, meaning each leg will get the full weight and not lead to muscle imbalances.
2. Stiff-legged deadlift
Another classic exercise. The stiff leg deadlift is a variation of a normal deadlift where you do not move your legs so your torso will move down while your legs are fixed. This will stretch out your hamstrings and develop them to an insane level! Do understand that you will get a maximum benefit while going down slowly because that will cause maximum muscular tension. For advanced lifters we’d recommend putting two 20kg plates beneath you and thus creating a deficit. This will increase your range of motion which will cause and even greater stretch.
Lunges are the best exercises to build hamstrings and there are numerous variations you can try out. The reverse lunge keeps you stationary while you move your legs behind you in a lunge position and walking lunges mean you lunge with every step to and fro a certain area. Keep the weight on your shoulders via a barbell or hold dumbells for an even greater challenge as your core will be pushed above and beyond, for you to maintain balance.
4. Box/Chair Squats
The squat, like we’ve said numerous times is the king of all exercises. The box squat or chair squat is where you stop your full range of motion by sitting on a chair or a box. The effect? While going back up not only will you be pushing yourself via your hamstrings and glutes but this will also add tons of weight to your normal squat. The world famous powerlifting gym, Westside Barbell, swears by box squats and they have elite powerlifters who squat close to 1000 pounds! Still not convinced?!
5. Standing Leg Curl
Another great isolation exercise to blow up those hammies. This exercise will only target hamstrings unlike other compound movements so remember to include this after your compound movements as accessory work. Even if your gym doesn’t have this machine, this can be done using a pair of dumbells or kettlebells to be attached to the legs and a bench for supporting you.
While performing hamstring workouts do remember to go heavy on the compound lifts and high reps for accesory work.