Hamstrings can be a difficult body part to target for some people. When you first learn how to work out these days a lot of beginners are spoon-fed a routine based around machines. For the legs typically you are shown the leg press, leg extensions, and leg curls. But as you progress and start becoming more intermediate it is time to learn new exercises.
So with that in mind we are going to go over some of the core hamstring exercises that help pack on the size.
Comparatively speaking the hamstrings are the smaller muscle on the upper legs. Much like the relationship between triceps and biceps, the hamstrings make up about one-third of the muscle size in the upper leg area. As such they should not be worked with as many sets or from as many angles as the quadriceps.
Unlike the biceps, people don’t focus the same about of frenzied intensity on making their hamstrings stick out like grapefruits. Instead they usually get worked at the end of the session and often times without the same energy given to the front part of the thigh. But they are a very valuable muscle that is used whenever you do anything with your legs making them critical for athletes. Also with their relationship to your core and lower back it is essential to have well developed and balanced hamstrings to ensure there isn’t an imbalance in muscles that can lead to lower back problems.
Hamstring Exercises for Mass
Stiff-legged Deadlifts – This is the primary hamstring exercise for mass mainly because you can use a lot more weight and other muscles can assist in the lift. This exercise should be done with slightly bent knees and a flat back. The focus is getting down to as full as a stretch as possible and then consciously tensing the back of the legs to pull yourself back up to an upright position. As the stretch is so important you want to either use a barbell and load plates no larger than 25lbs on the sides or use dumbbells. Both options work well.
High-Angle Leg Press – This is a great mass exercise that targets the whole leg but puts a lot of emphasis on the hamstrings when done correctly. Load less than maximum weight on the leg press; in fact probably half of your maximum as form is important. Place your feet so that your toes hang just over the edges of the upper-outer corners. Lower down slowly as far as you can and push with your heels to drive the weight up but pause before getting to full lock-out as you are stressing the hamstrings with this one.
Lying Leg Curls – This is just like doing a preacher cable curl for the biceps. It isn’t as much about using a super heavy weight (as that could danger the knees) but instead about going slowly and keeping constant tension on the hamstrings and holding a peak contraction. This is the best exercise to use for burns and super-slow negatives which are both great techniques to increase the intensity of the exercise.
Lunges and Single Leg Hamstring curls are both great hamstring exercises. In fact, you could probably interchange lunges with the high-angle leg press for the amount of hamstring work that is used. In either case they both make great transition exercises to go from quads to hamstrings. But the bottom line is that the three exercises listed above are easily the top hamstring exercises for mass.