I’ve been training seriously for a couple of years and give it my all on leg day, but I can’t seem to get my hamstrings to catch up to my quads. What can I do for lagging hams?


First, you need to take aclose look at your entire leg routine. It’s important that you think of legs as a singular bodypart comprising quads, hamstrings and calves. On leg day, you should target all three using basic multi-joint exercises that force all the leg muscles to work together.

You may not be giving hamstrings your full attention because quads, like biceps, are showoff muscles. Hamstrings are essential to your overall bodybuilding success, but people have a tendency to put more emphasis into their quad movements simply because they don’t see hamstrings in a mirror. But just as triceps do for biceps, hamstrings complement the mass and strength of quad muscles. Although I begin my leg day with quad exercises, I don’t perform them at the expense of hamstrings. In fact, after a few heavy sets of squats, leg presses and  leg extensions, my hamstrings are primed to be fried to the max.


I start my hamstring work with lying leg curls. Many people tend to squirm and jerk around while doing this exercise. Don’t. Keep your hips and quads flat against the bench. Raise the weight slowly and with strict control — don’t yank it up quickly. Hamstrings respond best to continuous tension. I throw in a firm contraction at the top of the movement and really burn the muscle. I do 10 to 12 reps, with a couple of forced reps added at the end with help from my training partner.

The stiff-leg deadlift, the next movement in my hamstring routine, is a crucial exercise that a lot of people don’t do correctly or skip entirely. That’s a big mistake. This exercise can make a big difference. I employ an overhand grip, slightly narrower than shoulder width, and I recommend using wrist straps. I actually bend my knees a little and keep them fixed as I raise the bar to the middle of my shins. This begins the actual movement. As I lift the bar, I keep my back straight and my head up. I think of my hamstrings, and not my back, as pulling the weight up. I end each rep by going down to mid-shin. Never return the bar to the floor until you’re finished with your total set. I do eight to 10 reps, none of them forced.

I finish my hamstring work with standing leg curls. These give my hams a different emphasis from lying curls, but the movement is still slow and deliberate, while tensing the muscle at the top of the contraction. I do 10 to 12 reps. Obviously, do them one leg at a time. Try to do both simultaneously, and you’ll fall down. That should be apparent, but sometimes leg day can confuse you.

Again, put your mind into what you’re doing. Don’t rush through your hamstring movements. Slow and controlled is the key. I guarantee that if you do this workout correctly, your lagging hams will be cooked and growing in no time. – FLEX


  • Lying Leg Curls | SETS: 2* | REPS: 10-12
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlifts | SETS: 1 | REPS: 8-10
  • Standing Leg Curls | SETS: 1 | REPS: 10-12

Note: Do this as part of your entire leg workout, training quads first, calves last. Beginners and intermediates should do at least two additional sets of each exercise.

* First set is a warm-up set.