I think that the hamstrings are the most underrated muscle group in the body.
I grew up playing basketball and realized very quickly that weak hamstrings correlate to a lot of injuries. On top of putting yourself at risk for injuries, your hamstrings are the muscle group that is most responsible for explosive movements like running and jumping.
If you are a football or basketball player your hamstring development will make or break your level of athleticism in these sports.
In terms of bodybuilding bringing up your hamstrings will help you skyrocket your dead lift and barbell squat 1 rep max.
As you know – when you are performing the dead lift one of the main exercises that is engaged is your hamstrings. Ever since I started dedicating half of my leg workouts to my hamstrings my dead lift has gone up over 100 lbs. the last two years. Its no coincidence that I can still dunk a basketball too! (White men CAN jump lol).
Many guys who have trouble improving their squat have weak hamstrings as well. When you overdevelop your quadriceps (front of the leg) and under develop your hamstrings (back of the leg) you are making it impossible to maximize your lower body compound lifts, which can cause injury and slow muscle development.
Do you want a workout routine that will help you pack on mass to your hamstrings and help you skyrocket your 1 rep max on the squat and dead lift? Of course you do! Besides from being an anabolic beast in the gym there is a major reason you should be training this muscle group with intensity frequently.
Your hamstrings contain the most “fast twitch” muscle fibers of any specific muscle in your body.
Your fast twitch muscle fibers are the “explosion” muscle fibers and are what is specifically engaged when you are sprinting, jumping, and doing compound lifts at heavy weight.
This proves that your hamstrings are the most important muscle group in your lower body for improving lower body strength and explosiveness.
I know you are jacked to train those hamstrings to perfection – so let’s dive into my favorite mass building hamstring workout.
Hamstring Workout For Mass And Explosiveness
This hamstring workout can be set up a few different ways. If you want a complete lower body leg workout you could stack this onto your let day workout. Many leg exercises that are staples on “leg day” work mostly the quad muscles like the leg extension, leg press, and squats that are not performed deep.
If I had to audit the average guys leg workout I would say that 70-80 percent of it is spent on the front of the leg. If you wanted to do some sets of squats, lunges, and leg press and stack this onto the end of your workout that would be one killer leg workout.
Another thing you could do is treat this as its own workout and hit it with even more intensity and do your quadriceps workout (aka squat day) on a different day so you are training your legs twice per week instead of just once.
Either way just make sure you are performing this hamstring workout at least once per week and track your weight and reps for non stop improvement. Just like any other muscle group training for progressive overload is the winning formula.
Stiff Leg Kettle Bell Dead Lift
This is an awesome hamstring exercise because it is an “iso-lateral” movement, meaning you are working on 1 side of your body at a time. The key is to really push your butt back and channel that “mind-muscle” connection so you feel the squeeze in the hamstring you are working on instead of your lower back.
When you bend your body your hips should move back only a little bit. Bend slightly around your hips, letting the shoulders go forward slightly. Keep the tension on the hamstrings for the entire duration and challenge yourself to maintain perfect form throughout the movement.
I like staying in the 8-10 rep range on this exercise as putting to much weight in the stiff leg deadlift position can open you up to back trouble.
Note: you can also use a dumbbell for this exercise if you don’t have access to a kettle bell. In fact it works just as well!
- Total Sets: 4
- Reps: 8-12
- Rest Time: 2 Minutes
Hamstring Ball Curl (High Rep)
Hamstring ball curls bring me all the way back to my high-school days, are are awesome for hitting the center of the hamstring muscle. I want you guys to go really high repetition on this exercise and go until failure.
See if you can beat my high score from the video. I believe I did about 45 reps. The key to this exercise is you need to start off with your heels on the inflatable swiss ball and push your butt up in the air so your body is in a straight decline, almost as if you are in a floating decline bench position.
Keep your butt off the ground for the entire duration of the movement, and bring your heels into your butt while focusing on squeezing the hamstrings throughout the movement. You will get a killer pump on this one, and it’s a great way to end your leg day workout!
- Sets: 3
- Reps: Failure
- Rest Time: 2 Minutes
Smith Machine Tension Hamstrings
The smith machine is a great tool for working your hamstrings because it allows you to place tension on them the entire time without involving much of your lower body or other muscle groups.
This exercise is pretty similar to the stiff leg deadlift except you will never go all the way up to the top position and lock your knees – which keeps tension the entire time on your hamstrings. Make sure you keep your chest up and if it may help to wear a weight lifting belt so you don’t feel any tension in your lower back.
This is a bit more of an advanced movement so if you aren’t comfortable with it start off very light.
Another trick is you want to make sure the bar is as close to your body the entire time and you bend your knees ever so slightly. Watch the video for a better breakdown on form!
- Sets: 4
- Reps: 10-12
- Rest Time: 90 Seconds
Prone Hamstring Superset
This is my favorite exercise for directly hitting the hamstring muscles. Are you ready for the hamstring pump of your life? This is how you are going to do it.
Start off on the prone hamstring curl machine, also known as the lying hamstring curl machine.
Go fairly heavy on the first portion of the superset and perform the reps with traditional form curling the weight all the way to your gluteus and back down to the starting position. Go slow on the eccentric portion to recruit more muscle fibers.
The second portion of the prone curl is a unique movement. First you will drop the weight to about 30 percent of what you just did. Then you will scoot yourself up on the bench, and bring your hip flexors and upper body off the pad. You will brace yourself up with your hands on each side of the bench.
This places a totally different angle on your hamstrings and will force you to recruit your muscle fibers deep in your hamstrings.
The goal for this one should be about 10-12 reps on each portion of the superset, with very little rest time between sets.
- Total Sets: 4
- Reps: 10-12 (each superset)
- Rest Time: 90 Seconds