Are you sick and tired of not seeing gains despite consistently training legs? Do you want to know which moves you should be doing to get the results you want? If so read on to see which exercises are going to help you build your lower body.
Over time people have become more open to the idea of training legs as they have finally begun to realize just how important it actually is. Whether from strength, power, aesthetics or a functional perspective training and building the lower body is vital for all.
But what does that mean?
For many, leg day involves squats, lunges, leg press, and calf raises followed by a slow walk out of the gym, but the big problem here is that it’s predominantly quadriceps exercises and the back of the body is often neglected.
It’s easy to see why, as most people only care about the ‘beach muscles’, otherwise known as the anterior chain (muscles on the front of the body, the main ones that we see) and as a result spend far too much time on their chest, biceps and quads.
But it shouldn’t be this way and if you’re truly going to achieve a balanced and complete physique, you’ll also need to train the muscles that we don’t focus on. But don’t worry, because, in this article, we’re going to outline the best possible exercises that you can do to grow your hamstrings.
Why are Hamstrings Important?
Consisting of three main muscles the hamstrings are one of the largest muscle groups in the body and one of the most important.
Hamstrings work with the quadriceps to help with hip extension, which is used in all aspects of life, whether standing up or sitting into a squat and they can also help with flexibility and the range of motion allowed at a joint when training or completing other forms of exercise.
Many powerful movements come from the posterior chain, which involves the hamstrings and glutes, which makes strong hamstrings vital for many people in the world of sport and exercise.
To top it all off a strong pair of hamstrings can complete your physique, and whilst a good pair of quads looks impressive, the way your legs look from the back (and how you fill out your jeans) will get you way more attention.
The Best Hamstring Exercises
Known as one of the single best exercises you can do, the Deadlift is a full-body compound exercise that works multiple muscles at once, however, it’s inclusion here is solely for its impact on the posterior chain (the back of the body). With great loads being lifted through the back and hamstrings, the Deadlift is one of the most powerful moves available that can get your hamstrings to pop.
2. Romanian Deadlift
The Romanian Deadlift adds a new dimension to the traditional Deadlift and places greater emphasis on the hamstrings. Sticking with the hip hinge movement, the Romanian Deadlift involves the hips extending behind the body, but with no further bending of the knee the pressure remains solely on the hamstrings. A great exercise to add mass to the hamstrings, the Romanian Deadlift is always a good choice.
3. Kettlebell Swing
Another hip hinge movement that involves working multiple muscles at once, the Kettlebell Swing is a solid way to get your heart rate up and your metabolism firing whilst also helping you to build your explosive power. The Kettlebell swing helps you to load your hips and hamstrings with ease and with proper form can ensure you’re targeting the right parts of your body. You’ll feel the benefits all over your posterior chain and if you look closely, you may even see the hamstring muscles working.
4. Single-Leg Deadlift
Many people shy away from the Single-Leg Deadlift because they struggle with balance, but actually, that’s all the more reason why you should do it. The Single-Leg Deadlift requires more muscles in the posterior chain to help stabilize the body and is a fantastic way to isolate the hamstrings, much like the Romanian Deadlift. By recruiting more muscle in the posterior chain and around the hips, you’re able to develop a range of muscles including your core, hips, and lower back.
5. Hip Thrust
Arguably the greatest exercise you can do for your glutes, the Hip Thrust also has big benefits for the hamstrings. With the ability to lift great loads, the Hip Thrust can help you to pack some muscle onto your lower body, benefiting your glutes and hamstrings predominantly and helping you to add mass. It’s also a fantastic way to help increase your power and drive, as the hips thrust continue to drive on each move.
6. Machine Leg Curl
Although working multiple joints at once can bring about bigger changes, it’s also nice to be able to isolate a muscle and focus solely on that, which is why the machine leg curl is so good. There are different variations out there, all of which do a great job, whether you’re laying down, seated or working one leg at a time and these machines not only put you in the ideal position to flex the knee and work the hamstrings but they also give you an extra degree of safety when using a fixed machine. Although the weight isn’t as high as in some movements, machine leg curls are a great option.
7. Glute Ham Raise
Glute Ham Raises can be fairly intense exercises, placing a great deal of stress on the posterior chain and requiring a lot of muscle activation from the hamstrings. Although the posterior chain is being recruited here, you can also expect to feel a lot of pressure in the core and glutes as you control your body weight through the movements. Glute-Ham machines can be difficult to come by in some gyms, so where possible you should use a ball or a suitable bench.
8. Cable Pull Through
Another strong exercise to put your hamstrings through a test, the Cable Pull-Through is simple enough to complete and a great way to load your hamstrings up. You will also get to work your hips as you thrust your pelvis forward and power through the hips. Cable Pull Through’s also add in a degree of core strength and stability as you hold your posture and balance your body.
The hamstrings are an important muscle group that can help you to improve your performance, increase your power, and pack on some much needed muscle in a hard to reach place.