The hamstrings are a collection of muscles located to the rear of the upper leg, composed of the Bicep Femoris, Semitendinosus and Semimembranosus. The hamstrings muscle group can be exercised via exercises which involve the flexion of the leg, as well as extension of the hip joint. Well developed hamstrings can drastically improve the girth of the upper leg, and aesthetical appeal of the thighs in bodybuilding. Many sporting disciplines will benefit from exercised hamstrings, such as those which incorporate explosive jumping and sprinting.
Leg flexion hamstring exercises
Laying leg curl
The laying leg curl directly exercises the hamstrings via the flexion of the leg, with the hamstring muscles being recruited to flex the upper leg during the exercise. The laying leg curl is a great choice for those who wish to isolate the hamstring, as well as be strict on the form front. Additional bodily movements to cheat the weight up is neutralised by the laying leg curl, due to the body being lay down during the execution. The exercise may also be of benefit for those with injuries, offering some support.
Choose a resistance in which the required number of repetitions can be performed, whilst ensuring the eccentric phrase of the exercise is controlled.
Standing leg curl
The standing variation of the leg curl is also very effective at stimulating the hamstrings, and may be preferred by those with injurious knees. It is important to ensure the upper body remains relatively stationary during the execution, so to not aid in the exercise and cause a possible injury from poor form. That said, some advanced trainers may prefer the standing variation due to the ability to slightly cheat the weight up to the latter part of a set, pushing the hamstring past its current level of ability.
Hip extension hamstring exercises
Stiff leg deadlift
The inexperienced trainer may be wise to seek advice from a personal trainer before executing the stiff leg deadlift. The stiff leg deadlift is performed in a similar fashion to the normal deadlift, although the legs remain stiff during the execution to cause greater stress to the hamstrings. The exercise can be performed with dumbbells or a barbell, with the dumbbell variation likely preferred due to greater flexibility.
“Good mornings”: named due to the exercise movement mimicking getting up in the morning, is an exercise which recruits the hamstrings and the erector spinae via the extension of the hip. The inexperienced trainer would again be wise to seek help with the form, with an incorrect execution possibly leading to serious injury.
The exercise involves the trainer placing a barbell across the upper back, and then leaning forwards, whilst maintaining strict posture, until the torso is roughly forty five degrees from the starting position. The motion is then reversed back to the starting position.
A light weight should only be used for the good mornings, with the lumbar region in a very hazard position if strict form is not followed.