Boost Your Hamstring Development: 3 Effective Solutions to Break Plateaus
Hamstrings, often overlooked in the muscle-building realm, are the Rodney Dangerfield of the fitness world—they don’t get the respect they deserve.
Located at the back of the legs, they face two challenges in the pursuit of leg training: being less visible in the mirror and being overshadowed by other muscle groups.
However, bodybuilding enthusiasts are well aware that competition is won from the back. Likewise, those who are familiar with strength training recognize that well-developed hamstrings lead to enhanced athletic performance, including increased jumping ability, running speed, and overall athleticism.
If you want to take your hamstring development to new heights and witness extraordinary results, whether it’s muscle mass or performance you seek, incorporate these three plateau-busting solutions into your training routine.
Solution #1 – Double Up Your Hamstring Training
In a world of quick fixes and shortcuts, training a lagging muscle group twice a day is a proven method to achieve noticeable improvements. Hamstrings respond exceptionally well to this approach due to their dual functions. As our online Anatomy class highlights, hamstrings serve as hip extensors, assisting the glutes, as well as knee flexors, allowing the leg to curl back towards the buttock. Unfortunately, the knee flexion aspect often goes overlooked in traditional gym workouts, despite its crucial role in complete athleticism. Functional training advocates, who emphasize the importance of knee flexion in athletic movements, rightly argue for its inclusion. Running or skating at high speeds requires force application when the heel contacts the ground, which heavily relies on hamstring strength during flexion. Additionally, exercises like leg curls contribute to knee joint protection. To ensure optimal joint mechanics, it is essential to maintain a balanced strength ratio between the hamstrings and quadriceps.
If you want to maximize the size and strength of your hamstrings rapidly, there’s no better method than training them twice a day. Follow these simple guidelines when implementing this training strategy for the first time:
- Keep the duration of each workout short—start with 20 minutes and gradually increase to a total of 40 minutes, twice a day.
- Prioritize knee flexion exercises in the morning session, such as various types of leg curls and glute-ham raises.
- Focus on hip extension exercises in the afternoon session, including Romanian deadlifts, good mornings, back extensions, and reverse hypers.
To help you manage the workload effectively within a limited timeframe, here’s a sample routine you can try:
A1 – Lying Leg Curls with Feet Inward (Plantarflexed)
Perform 5 sets of 4-6 reps using a 40X0 tempo. Rest for 10 seconds before proceeding to A2.
A2 – Lying Leg Curls with Neutral Feet (Plantarflexed)
Perform 5 sets of 4-6 reps using a 40X0 tempo. Rest for 10 seconds before proceeding to A3.
A3 – Lying Leg Curls with Feet Outward (Plantarflexed)
Perform 5 sets of 6-8 reps using a 40X0 tempo. Rest for 180 seconds before going back to A1.
Note: A1 to A3 denotes a tri-set. Complete one set of each exercise, resting for the allocated time between sets, and perform a total of 5 tri-sets. As the workout progresses, it is normal to experience a slight decrease (4-5%) in the load lifted with each successive tri-set.
A1 – Barbell Good Mornings with Wide Stance
Perform 4 sets of 6-8 reps with a 4020 tempo. Rest for 10 seconds before proceeding to A2.
A2 – Romanian Deadlifts with Snatch Grip
Perform 4 sets of 8-10 reps with a 3020 tempo. Rest for 10 seconds before proceeding to A3.
A3 – Back Extension with 45º BB Snatch Grip
Perform 4 sets of 12-15 reps with a 2012 tempo. Rest for 3 minutes between sets.
Similar to the morning session, this routine consists of tri-sets. Complete all three exercises consecutively for a total of 4 tri-sets.
Bonus Tip – Can’t Fit Twice-a-Day Hamstring Workouts Into Your Schedule?
We understand that everyone leads a busy life, balancing careers, family, and personal commitments. Sometimes, training twice a day may not be feasible. In such cases, you can apply a tip from Pierre Roy, one of Canada’s most accomplished Olympic Weightlifting coaches. Roy, who has trained Olympic medalists and World champions, often incorporated the Doublé method into his athletes’ routines. This technique involves performing the same lift at the beginning and end of a workout. To adapt this strategy for hamstring development, prioritize a lift that heavily engages the hamstrings, such as the deadlift. By implementing this approach, you’ll still be able to make significant gains without training hamstrings twice a day.
Solution #2 – The 4+2 Method: An Intense Approach
If you’re looking for a challenging and demanding method to stimulate your hamstrings, the 4+2 Method is an excellent choice. Start by selecting a load on the leg curl station that you can only lift for 4 reps. After completing the fourth rep, add 20% more weight to the stack. Your training partner then assists you in lifting the weight, but this isn’t a forced rep—strive to exert minimal effort and let your partner provide the necessary assistance. Next, focus on slowly lowering the weight for a count of 8 seconds. Perform two repetitions following this pattern for each set. This additional eccentric load will effectively target your hamstrings. Take 4-5 minutes of rest between sets and aim to complete 5 sets in total. If you feel that you could have handled more weight during the eccentric reps, it’s likely that the initial load for the first 4 regular reps was insufficient. Once you’ve completed this method, your hamstring-focused workout is finished.
Solution #3 – Fixation/Insertion Super Sets: Double the Muscle Activation
In anatomical terms, the origin of a muscle refers to its fixation point, while the insertion point represents where it moves. The Fixation/Insertion Super Sets technique focuses on selecting two different exercises, each targeting the opposite aspect of the muscle attachment. For example, you can choose Romanian Deadlifts, where the legs remain fixed while the trunk moves, and pair them with reverse hypers, where the trunk is fixed while the legs move.
This superset approach effectively works both ends of the hamstring attachments, stimulating muscle fiber recruitment and leading to post-workout muscle soreness. Moreover, it promotes super-compensation during the rest period, enabling significant gains in strength and size.
Consider incorporating the following sample workout:
A1 – Romanian Deadlift with BB Clean Grip
Perform 5 sets of 6-8 reps using a 3110 tempo. Rest for 10 seconds before proceeding to A2.
A2 – Reverse Hyper with Neutral Feet
Perform 5 sets of 8-10 reps using a 3011 tempo. Rest for 120 seconds between supersets.
Neglecting proper hamstring training can hinder your overall progress in developing muscularity and strength. By implementing any of these guaranteed plateau-busting solutions, you’ll unlock new gains and propel your hamstring development. Whether you’re aiming for increased muscle mass or enhance athletic performance, the hamstrings play a crucial role. Embrace these strategies, stay consistent, and witness the remarkable transformation in your hamstring development. Remember, it’s time to give your hamstrings the respect they deserve.