Alright, let’s be honest. How many of you train your quads way harder than your hamstrings? Young guys come in, they squat heavy, then hit the leg press, then maybe do some walking lunges, the leg extension machine and then finish up with the leg curl, skip calves and go home.
So today, I’m going to teach you 3 hacks to help those underdeveloped hamstrings grow and hopefully start to balance out your future leg workouts.
HACK #1. It’s all in the HIPS
Believe it or not your hamstrings connect your lower leg to your lumbar spine. Therefore, the position of your pelvis during any hamstring curl will make a HUGE difference. In fact, I bet many of you have done hamstring exercises and felt it more in your lower back than your legs when going heavy.
Well, that’s because to maximize hamstring activation, you need to posteriorly rotate the pelvis which means flex your glutes and tuck your pelvis before starting your reps. Otherwise, all the tension gets placed on your lower back and the exercise I see this mistake on the most is the prone leg curl.
So the next time you train hamstrings, just take a quick second to set-up properly before you start curling.
HACK #2 – Don’t ONLY Train With Seated & Prone Leg Curls!
Now, obviously these curl variations are great for isolation, but your hamstrings prefer working in conjunction to your glutes.
Especially when it comes to hip explosiveness power when squatting and deadlifting. So with that in mind you need to make sure you’re incorporating exercises like Romanian Deadlifts, Good Mornings and Barbell Glute Bridges into your workouts because if you ONLY train with isolation exercises for your hamstrings you’ll inadvertently teach them to work independently of your glutes which is not good.
But a few quick key points guys. When doing Romanian Deadlifts or Good Mornings remember that these exercises are all about having a SLOW ECCENTRIC to focus on a deep stretch in the hamstrings. This means you need to really slow the tempo of your reps to do these exercises right.
As for glute bridges, this is an explosive exercise off the floor and requires hip hyperextension at the top of every rep to maximize the effectiveness of the movement.
HACK #3: Point Your Toes AWAY from your Shins
Let’s revisit the prone leg curl for this tip. Do you ever feel like your calves are contracting harder than your hamstrings when performing this exercise?
If so, it’s most likely because your feet are in DORSI FLEXION (which is when your toes point in toward your shins) when they should be in “plantar flexion” which is when your toes point away from your shins as you are curling.
Believe it or not, if you make this one little adjustment when performing curls on the prone leg curl machine or the standard leg curl machine you’ll instantly feel more hamstring engagement, especially in the MEAT of your hamstrings.
But I suggest you lower the weight a bit before trying this as you are most likely going to be activating parts of your hamstrings you’ve never felt before. Also, if you are training with sets of 8 – 10 reps and you start to fail around 6 or 7, it’s ok to switch back to Dorsi Flexion to finish off the set.
Just make sure you pelvis remains posteriorly rotated as it’s very easy to start arching your back as you fatigue on this exercise.