When it comes to leg workouts, the hamstrings often get short-changed or neglected completely. Understandably, people looking to build impressive wheels tend to fixate on quad mass . . . until they turn around to find hammies flatter than a pancake on cheat day.
Ultimately, your hamstrings are to your legs what your triceps are to your arms. Well-developed hamstrings are key to decent leg size and can help boost performance on your other leg moves. While hamstring curls are definitely a good place to start, there are a number of other power moves to target and build up this important muscle group. Here are four exercises that deliver some pretty awesome bang for their buck:
1. Box Squats
Believe it or not, box squats when performed properly can engage a ton of hamstring tissue. If you’re focusing on hamstring development, box squats actually beat out squatting to full depth since there’s less quad recruitment as a result of the reduced knee flexion and increased hip flexion. When performing this move, always come to a full stop seated on the box while keeping your torso tight. Use a slightly wider stance with toes pointed out to ensure the emphasis remains off your quads.
2. Barbell Hip Thrusts
Hip thrusts offer a great way to train hamstrings without placing undue amounts of stress on your lower back. They also can be a saving grace following injury. Although these moves do target the glutes more than some other exercises, the hamstrings are doing a fair amount of the work as well.
3. Romanian Deadlifts
If you’re really ready to torch some hamstring tissue, Romanian deadlifts are the way to go. Generally, you should be keeping your rep count between 6 and 8 when executing this move so that you can go as heavy as possible with the weight.
4. Eccentric Glute Hamstring Raises
Movements that target the eccentric strength of the hamstrings are very important for overall leg development. The good news? You can achieve this with bodyweight exercises only. To perform eccentric glute hamstring raises, simply get into a tall kneeling position with your heels secured beneath a bench, heavy chair, or other immovable object. Without bending at the waist and with your heels firmly dug in, slowly let your body lower toward the floor for a 5–8 second count. Gently land on the floor in push-up position, then push yourself back to start. Focus on form rather than volume and keep your rep count between 6–8 for this exercise.