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1 Easy "Hack" For Bigger Hamstrings

Not What You Think!

Posted by Scott_Herman - September 12th, 2018

This article is going to come as a blessing for all of you who can’t quite seem to build big and strong hamstrings. In fact, the Romanian Deadlift, which is one of the BEST hamstring muscle building exercises you can do, is one of the HARDEST exercises for me to teach my clients, whom I coach online. It’s a movement that requires focus and control, but unfortunately most people just end up just “bending over” instead of feeling that deep stretch in their hamstrings.

Remember that the Romanian Deadlift (RDL) will ALWAYS trump exercises like seated leg curls or prone leg curls, because the RDL allows you to work your glutes and hamstrings synergistically, which carries over to other movements like squats and deadlifts. Seated and prone leg curls teach your hamstrings to work in isolation, which if that’s all you do for hamstrings, can actually result in WEAKNESS or an injury over time.

So if you’ve been avoiding RDLs because you don’t “feel” them in your hamstrings, or you just end up with a sore lower back, I have an interesting “hack” that you can utilize to help build a STRONGER mind-muscle connection for more GAINS!

Don’t Do Romanian Deadlifts First!

My trick is this. Instead of hitting RDLs first, I want you to start your workout with a barbell hack squat. This also goes for if you start your leg workout with barbell squats. Go from squats, to barbell hack squats, and then to RDLs.

The reason being is because if you’re not feeling your hamstrings during a RDL, it’s because your lower back muscles are activating too much, most likely due to trying to focus more on keeping your chest UP (or spinal extension), instead of sitting BACK.

To me, this means that you haven’t managed to establish or reinforce the proper firing pattern for the RDL.  So how do you fix it? Well, you fix it by eliminating the source of the problem which is spinal extension, because just like the barbell hack squat, the RDL is a movement that relies on HIP EXTENSION and HIP FLEXION. You’re not actually “bending over” at the waist when performing a RDL, in fact your lower back should be remaining neutral.  It only looks like you’re bending over because your hips are moving backwards.

Hamstring Hack!

This is where the barbell hack squat comes into play. Performing the barbell hack squat FIRST will help enforce the proper movement pattern BEFORE you perform your heavy RDLs. You are essentially pre-activating that glute and hamstring combination, allowing your hips to fire properly by activating your glutes and hamstrings synergistically. The reason this works so well is actually two-fold.

    1. Proper form for any deadlift is to eliminate spinal extension and flexion and solely rely on pushing through the legs and hips.

    2. While the hack squat is still a quad dominant movement, it inevitably activates the glutes and hamstrings because the barbell is now BEHIND your legs, which means there will be less knee flexion and more hip flexion at the bottom of the movement.


So, on your next workout, try hitting 4 – 5 sets of the barbell hack squat PRIOR to your RDLs.  Even if you’re just doing hamstrings that day, do 4 – 5 sets of LIGHT WEIGHT, just to get the movement down, and pre-activate. I guarantee most of you will even be able to lift more weight with the RDL, because your posture is now enhanced from the hack squats pre-activating your glutes and hamstrings.

I know some of you probably assumed you would lift LESS weight because you might feel PRE-EXHAUSTED from the hack squats, but quite the opposite will occur. Your glutes and hamstrings are primed to lift that weight and dominate the movement!

Related Videos:

3 Hacks For Bigger Hamstrings! | GOODBYE SKINNY LEGS!

Three Exercises To Boost Hamstring Development!

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