Hamstrings are one of the toughest muscles for developing. After all, most every other athlete trains them–if they train them–for injury prevention. You rarely notice hams of note on a nonbody-builder, and even most bodybuilders lack the density and dieted-down details to wow a crowd with rear-leg heft or vertical-blind lines.
Yet, many athletes choose to neglect them, or pay little attention to their training. Even some bodybuilders fall into this category. How often do you see guys with perfectly shredded physique, only to find out that they lack size and definition in their legs. Find out about the five most common mistakes that bodybuilders do when training this muscle groups, and learn how to avoid them.
Here’s a top 5 hamstrings training mistakes, and how to fix them:
1.) INSUFFICIENT ATTENTION TO ALL MUSCLES
The hamstrings consist of three separate muscles located at the back of the leg. They are the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and the biceps femoris, with the latter being the largest of them all. That is why in the old days the hamstrings have been called thigh biceps, referencing to the largest muscle of this group. However, you should always have in mind that the hamstrings consist of three separate muscles, and each of them deserves an ample attention if you want to achieve full and rounded development.
You can avoid this mistake by performing exercises that specifically target each of these muscles. Target your biceps femoris by performing leg curls lying on the bench. Complete three sets of this exercise.
You can target the semitendinosus and semimembranosus by performing seated leg curls. Complete three sets of this exercise on your leg day. You can increase the stress on this area if you pull your hips off the bench while performing the lying leg curls.
2. NOT ENOUGH VOLUME
Although it’s a well known fact that hamstrings are one of the hardest muscles for developing due to their size, many trainees don’t pay enough attention to their workout. They either choose to neglect them altogether, or put their workout at the end of their leg day training. Doing half-hearted sets of leg culrs after labouring through sets upon sets of squats and leg presses won’t help much in developing your hams. Hamstrings are one of the largest muscle groups in your body, and they should be hit with great volumes if you want to achieve any growth.
Especially if your legs are lagging, consider training your hamstrings on separate days from your quadriceps. This allows you to focus more on each area. If you train quads and hams in the same workout, try combining the two by following an exercise for one with an exercise for the other. Do at least 10 sets for hamstrings, and at least three different exercises in each ham workout.
3. LOW INTENSITY
Another common mistake is not applying enough intensity to your hams workout. You can rarely see bodybuilders that are ding forced reps or drop sets aimed at their hamstrings with the same intensity as when they do leg presses. This is probably due to the fact that most of them chose to push the hams workout to second place, not paying the same attention to these muscles as they pay to developing their quads.
As mentioned previously, give hams their own workout to give them your maximum focus. Doing drop sets on lying or seated leg curls is as easy as moving the weight stack’s pin into a higher slot. Make your last set of one-leg curls a drop-set sequence. A training partner can easily remove stress from the positive halves of reps and add stress to the negative halves to keep sets going beyond failure.
If you train alone, you can increase the emphasis on the negative by raising the leg curl weight with both legs, but lowering with just one leg (alternating legs each rep). Any ham set can be extended via rest-pause. Pause for 10-20 seconds in the ready position after reaching failure, and then do up to 4 more reps to failure, pause again, and again do up to 4 more reps to failure.
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4. NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO THE NEGATIVE
Lifting is likely the only endeavor where looking at the “negatives” is encouraged. In this case, we’re talking about the eccentric portion of the movements.
Coaches in different sports are paying more attention to negative-emphasis training to hamstrings due to several athletes tearing hamstrings in games or even during practices. How often do you watch Sportscenter and hear of some player being out with a “hamstring strain”?
Therapists and trainers are finding that eccentric-emphasized workouts are helping athletes recover from injuries and can help in minimizing the chances of repeating the same injury. When it comes to building muscles, you’re breaking down the muscle most when you’re performing the negative.
This is what you want so they can recover and grow when you leave the gym. So it should make sense that focusing on the eccentric portion of the rep should matter and be a priority.
5. GOING TOO HEAVY
As awesome as it feels to place that pin at the bottom of the stack or load up the bar with as many 45’s as possible, going heavy for the sake of lifting big weight is a sign that you’re begging to get hurt. No one grows and improves sitting at the house.
Challenge yourself but remember that proper execution of the movements and rep quality is paramount for productive hamstring training. Leave the ego at home and your sacrifice will be well rewarded.
CONCLUSION: Take pictures of your legs from the side and back when you start and again after that four weeks. You should notice some serious gains that will make you glad you decided to take hamstring training more seriously. You might also notice strength gains in other movements like squats and deadlifts. Do exercises for both your outer hams and inner hams in each hamstring workout. Do at least 10 sets for hamstrings, and consider breaking up your ham and quad workouts. Push sets to failure, and include intensifiers, such as forced reps, drop sets and rest-pause. Focus on strength gains, and pyramid some sets.