In addition, we’d like to discuss a few common fairly understandable mistakes many guys make while training their hamstrings. Avoid these to ensure injury-free training and maximum output.
#1. Low Volume Work
The hamstrings must be trained with high volume in order to grow. This is one of the largest muscle groups in the body that’s constantly on the job helping you perform both basic and complex lower body movements, so in order to adequately stimulate them and create an optimal training response, you need to lavish them with a high number of sets and reps and hit them with at least two different exercises. Whenever you want to focus on your hams, train them at the beginning of your workout instead of throwing in a few isolation moves at the end when your legs are already exhausted.
#2. Quad Dominance
Most guys are guilty for over-assaulting their quads while the hamstrings are left with the crumbs. This leads to quad dominance which hurts the legs’ muscular symmetry and balance and increases the risk of injury. If you want to build strong and proportioned legs, make sure that the quads don’t steal the show and your hamstrings get enough work by adequately combining hamstring and quad exercises in the same workout. However, the best option in the case of seriously lagging hamstrings is to start training them on separate days from your quads, so that you can properly focus on each area and achieve maximum hypertrophy.
#3. Failing to Work Every Area
As we mentioned above, the muscle we know as the hamstring is actually a muscle group of three muscles, and each of them should be targeted properly in order to achieve balanced aesthetics as well as even strength development. Seated leg curls will better target the inner side of the hamstrings, which includes the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus, while the biceps femoris (traditionally called the thigh biceps) which has a somewhat different function from the previous two can be emphasized with lying leg curls. Alternate between seated and lying leg curls on each workout to achieve best results.
#4. Skipping the Warm-up
Since most athletes suffer from underdeveloped hams, they are one of the most commonly injured muscles in sport today. There are many possible reasons for hamstring injury, such as muscular overload, tightness and inflexibility, quad/hamstring strength imbalances and gluteal dysfunction, and most of them can be prevented by performing dynamic stretches before each leg training session and statically stretching the targeted muscles at the end of the workout. Your hamstrings are already vulnerable to injury as it is; don’t make matters worse by neglecting the importance of a decent warm-up.
#5. Neglecting Eccentric Work
Eccentric strength represents the amount of force produced when a muscle lengthens, while concentric strength stands for the amount of force produced when a muscle shortens. Most people underestimate the importance of eccentric training because they don’t know that there is more mechanical load per motor unit during the eccentric phase of an exercise, and the reason for this is that eccentric contraction involves fewer motor units. As a result, eccentric training can produce up to 1.5 times more tension than concentric work, which leads to a much more powerful hypertrophic response.
In fact, many studies have shown that the eccentric portion of the lift, i.e. the lowering of the weights, is what actually builds muscle mass. And since the hamstrings react very well to the stimulus provided by eccentric work, you need to really emphasize the eccentric part of hamstring exercises. To get best results, aim to perform the concentric phase explosively for 1 second and give your hams a hard squeeze at the top position, then make sure to execute the lowering phase of the movement in a slow, focused and controlled manner instead of rushing through it or relying on momentum.
If this article has convinced you to start paying more attention to your hamstrings, our work here is done. Good luck and stay strong!