Hamstring Development

A day doesn’t go by that doesn’t find me engaged some form of self improvement. If I’m not reading (one of my favorite pastimes), then I’m training. This year I have extremely motivated and have been training like it’s going out of style. I realize I shocked a lot of people with my freaky level of conditioning, but believe me; the bodybuilding world hasn’t seen anything yet! I’ve been working hard on improving certain weak points and making my strong points even more freaky, particularly my glutes and hams.

These are what I call the “money muscles.” If they’re not well-developed and highly defined, you’re out of the money. In fact, if you don’t have these bodyparts developed to an almost awesome degree, you might as well not even bother showing up to compete.

I train my hamstrings on my leg day as part of a six-day, double split program. I work my hamstrings by themselves in my first workout of the day and then return later that evening to thoroughly blast my quads and biceps. My training philosophy has never been about finesse. Any muscle group I train responds best to a super-heavy approach. The heavier the weights I use in training, the bigger, denser and thicker the development of my muscles. It’s simple physiology: A stronger muscle is a bigger muscle and, being a size hound, I train to get as strong as I possibly can.

Numerous pro bodybuilders perform dozens of sets of lunges, leg curls, unilateral leg curls, stiff-leg deadlifts and seated leg curls to bring out their hamstring development. My own training is far more simplistic. I use only two exercises: deadlifts and lying leg curls. Mind you, I spend quite a bit of time training my hams; it’s not unusual for me to spend a solid hour performing deadlifts. When you train heavy, you need all the rest you can get between sets in order to use those top weights in any meaningful way.

Regular Deadlifts
Lying Leg Curls

I start my deadlifts with 135 pounds. Adding 90 pounds per set, I work my way up to over 500 pounds, making sure I get a minimum of six reps per set. These deadlifts aren’t of the stiff-leg variety either, as those put the spine in a structurally disadvantageous position. I make a point of not allowing the plates to touch the floor until I’ve got six plates on either side of the bar, in order to keep constant tension on my glutes and hamstrings.

I’m also a big believer in using wrist straps and, believe it or not, I don’t advise an “over and under” grip. My grip is always overhand, because it’s too easy to tear a biceps muscle when you’re lifting the kind of poundages I utilize. I’m also not afraid to chalk up as much as I feel is needed to ensure that my grip is firm and fixed. I don’t count sets on this movement, but there are plenty of them. Certainly enough to give my glutes and hamstrings a thorough workout and carve in deep, dense striations across the width and length of both bodyparts.

I’m convinced that performing deadlifts in this fashion is all I need to develop my hamstrings. However, I also perform one more exercise, lying leg curls on a machine, to finish off my hamstring routine. I like the Nautilus machine for this movement, as its offset cam perfectly matches the strength curve of the hamstring.

When I perform leg curls, I never let my legs flop around on the pads at various angles like some people I’ve observed. Instead, I deliberately extend my feet and point my toes when executing these reps. Doing so really stresses the belly of the hamstring, which leads to that rakelike effect whenever you hit a hamstring pose.

I only perform seven sets of this movement, but I make sure to get 10 reps per set, and I usually use the entire stack for all seven. Finishing leg curls puts an end to my hamstring routine.

Many bodybuilders place too much emphasis on leg curls. My only reason for including them is to enhance the integrity of the connective tissue in the knee joint. I don’t want any injuries. By performing nice, concerted repetitions and utilizing a full range of motion, I can not only enhance my hamstring development, but also build some stability to my knee joint.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *