The hamstrings are one of the most frequently injured muscles in sports. A lot of this is due to the fact that the muscles have to become strong in the lengthened position and this is not how most people train these muscles — most focus on a strong contraction with moves like the leg curl. This article will give you some exercises and a sample program to not only help prevent injuries, but to really develop appreciable size and strength in the hammies.
Happily, stronger hams can lead to a bigger squat and a faster sprint – hallmarks of any serious athlete.
Grip the bar with a shoulder-width grip. Stand up with the bar in your hands. Your feet should be hip-width apart. Pull your shoulders back and elevate your chest. While keeping your knees slightly bent, push your hips back and lean forward. As you do this allow the bar to slide down your thighs until you’ve gone as far down as you can with good form, then reverse direction. Make sure to keep your arms straight throughout. When working with athletes, Romanian deadlifts should track squats in the intensity column. In other words the weights on both exercises should be similar.
Begin this exercise standing with a loaded bar across your back, as in the squat. Your feet should be hip-width apart and there should be a slight bend in your knees. From here, pull your shoulders back and stick your chest out. Push your hips back as you do at the outset of the Romanian. As you do this, lean forward as far forward as you can while keeping your back tight and reverse directions. Good mornings should be similar to lunges in terms of weights used.
The two exercises described above can be done for three to five sets of up to fifteen repetitions. If you’re looking for a sweet spot, hamstrings tend to respond well to heavy, lower-rep (6-8) training. The focus should be on good form and complete recovery — about 1-2 minutes — between sets.
Inchworms are a bodyweight exercise. You need an open space for this exercise. Begin the exercise in the push-up position. Keeping your legs and arms straight, walk your feet up towards your hands. When they get to your hands, keeping your legs straight, walk your hands out until you are back in the push-up position. Repeat until you’ve covered the desired distance. This exercise is normally done for three to five sets of 10–40 yards each.