Maximize your strength training routine by cutting out these time wasters.Read article
As a hardgainer, hanging hamstrings are probably near the bottom of your wishlist. In a contest, vertical-blind lines in a rear shot or half-basketballs from the side can make the difference between first and fourth, but those not planning to pose in public typically focus much more on arms, chest, or even quads. Leg curling comes almost as an afterthought.
Get with the program. Your hams are much larger than, for example, your biceps, and building additions to this area fills out your legs, maintains a strength balance with your quads (thus preventing injuries) and, because of their relative size, packs on lean pounds faster than some showier parts.
Our huge hamstring workout gives this crucial bodypart the stimulus it needs to maximize your mass appeal.
RULE 1: GIVE EACH BODYPART A WORKOUT
Part of the reason hamstrings don’t receive the respect they deserve from noncompetitive bodybuilders is they’re typically tossed into a “leg workout.” This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train hams with quads. Indeed, this program prescribes just such a pairing. However, you need to think of each bodypart as having its own workout. This may be merely a semantic discrepancy, but it can make a great difference in your approach.
Too often, trainers simply tack on a few lazy sets of leg curls after a grueling barrage of squats and leg presses. Likewise, as part of shoulder training, they’ll pitch in some shrugging after destroying delts, and, at the end of an arm workout, they’ll warm down with a couple sets of wrist curls.
The focus and intensity will invariably be greater if you give hamstrings, trapezius, and forearms their own workouts, making them the center of attention during the corresponding exercises, and not merely a part of a greater whole.
RULE 2: EMBRACE SYNERGISM
This may seem to contradict rule One, but it’s actually complementary. You should provide each bodypart with its own individual workout, but always remain aware that most bodyparts are trained to a lesser degree with others. For example, hamstrings will get some work during squats and leg presses for quads, as well as during deadlifts for back. As another example, triceps will be stressed during pressing movements for both chest and shoulders.
Generally speaking, the sort of compound lifts that involve two or more bodyparts are the best mass-gainers and thus they play pivotal roles in this routine. Although your focus should remain on the primary target muscles during compound lifts, be aware of the secondary muscles.
As you will discover, sometimes you may want to reduce the secondary involvement, via techniques like pre-exhaust or lockout avoidance, and yet, even then, secondary muscles will provide support. Embrace it, for this sort of synergy boosts growth and overall strength.
In Romanian deadlifts, the bar is lowered and raised against your legs and not in front (as in stiff-leg deadlifts) and you maintain the arch in your back throughout the lift. It focuses more on the hamstrings and glutes; the stiff-leg deadlift works the spinal erectors more.
Variation: You can also perform this exercise with dumbbells, keeping the weights on the sides of your legs throughout each rep. Alternately, you can do Romanian deadlifts with dumbbells one leg at a time, either balancing on one foot or, if that’s too awkward, bending the nonworking leg behind you and resting its foot on a bench.
LYING LEG CURLS
This movement focuses more on the biceps femoris (outer hamstring).
Variation: Do the positive half of the rep (raising the weight) with both legs, but do the negative half (lowering the weight) with one leg, resisting in order to lower the weight twice as slowly as you raised it. Because you’re stronger during the negative action, this is an excellent way to get the most out of both halves of your reps. Alternate legs each rep or do all the negative reps of a set with one leg, then the next set switch to the other leg and the final set use both legs.
SEATED LEG CURLS
This exercise focuses more on the semitendinosus and semimembranosus (inner hamstrings).
Variation: At least every third work- out, do a unilateral (one side at a time) leg curl to guard against strength/size imbalances. You can do seated leg curls unilaterally, or, if your gym has the appropriate machine, substitute standing one-leg curls every third workout, doing all 10-12 reps in a set for one rear leg and then switching to the other side.