Few people ever receive compliments about their beautiful hamstrings. Glutes, quads, and calves receive more attention, both by their owners and admirers. It’s possible, after all, to make noticeable improvements in those areas.
Strong, flexible hamstrings, on the other hand, are subtle—but they’re no less important. Your hammies play a key role in everyday movement—now more than ever in our sedentary world in which most of us spend hours sitting behind a desk, driving, or wedged into an airline seat sized for a child.
Tight hamstrings signal a tight, inflexible body that will lead to injury. When your hip flexors are locked up, the body shuts down the glutes and makes the hamstrings less efficient. Tight hamstrings are a product of tight hips, which are a product of inactivated glutes. No wonder hamstring strains and lower-back pain are so commonplace at the gym and the office.
The worst part? Many people address hamstrings with only a handful of token gym class exercises taught decades ago, though still seen regularly before 5K races. They’re the ones who are pushing up against trees or bending over to touch their toes for minutes at a time. There’s a better way. And with this workout, we’re doing it with supersets.
Instead of trying to force out bodies into submission, let’s train the hamstrings through active, supersetted movements that will lengthen and strengthen not only the hamstrings but also your entire posterior chain.
You can add these supersets into your usual workouts, or you can do all five supersets as one big workout. If you do, make sure you rest only after the second exercise in each pairing.
Pete Williams is a NASM-certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of a number of books on performance and training.