Besides other things, strong legs require flexible, healthy hamstrings.
But let’s be honest – the hams are not the best looking part of the lower body and not many athletes have developed them. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t take them seriously, although weak hamstrings reduce the performance quality and make the risk of injuries even bigger.
A typical lower body training program usually involves a lot of work for the glutes or the quads, but not for the hamstrings, which is a big mistake for two reasons.
First, neglecting the hamstrings prevents you from utilizing your maximum potential and second, weak hamstrings can be injured more easily, especially under heavy weights.
Everyone who has been working out for a longer time knows that the body works as a system of connected links, and when there is a weak link, the overall performance suffers, which is important for both developing maximum strength and gaining muscle mass.
So if you decide to skip working on some part of your body just because it seems unimportant or you thinks it’s difficult, you’re missing the chance to upgrade your overall performance.
Don’t be one of those people that only work on their favorite muscles. Instead, improve your training program so that every muscle is equally stimulated and you get maximum growth and development.
If you haven’t been working on your hamstrings until now, it’s time to start. Keep on reading to find out where to begin.
Hamstring Anatomy & Function
Even though the hamstrings are not the best looking muscles in the human body, they are definitely very important when it comes to the overall performance. If they are tight and weak, they are more prone to injuries and strains and might tear during intensive exercises.
The hams are actually composed of three muscles: the semimembranosus, biceps femoris and the semitendinosus, which are responsible for the hip extension and knee flexion.
Along with the calves and the glutes, the hams create the posterior chain of the legs and contribute to a lot of the lower body movements, such as walking, running, squatting and climbing, and they also provide symmetry and stability.
All this makes the hams one of the most important “speed” muscles in the body which allow us to run fast.
Also, the hams act as decelerators, so the stronger they are, the faster you can stop your body when changing direction or avoiding hitting an obstacle.
And because the hamstrings stabilize the hip joints, working on them will help you keep your spine aligned and prevent any postural issues. These muscles often work paired with the calves, glutes or the quads.
How to Perform Seated Hamstring Curls
Even though most compound movements which rely on lower body muscles will target the hams to certain extent, hamstring curls are one of the most important isolation exercises which you need to include into your program in order to maximally activate this muscle and improve the overall development of the legs.
Here is a step – by – step guide on how to properly perform seated hamstring curls:
- Sit on the machine and place your back firmly against the pad.
- Place your lower leg against the pad and adjust the lap pad between your hip and knees so that it holds your legs in a secure position.
- Grab the side handles and keep your legs comfortably levered in and fully extended in front of you.
- To begin, exhale and flex your knees but engage only your hams, which will pull the machine lever inwards. Make sure your torso is stationary and keep doing this until it goes as far as possible to the back of the thighs.
- Pause at the contracted position for a moment and then slowly go back to the starting position and breathe in.
Also, we would like to tell you about the common fairly understandable mistakes people do while working on their hamstrings.
Try avoiding these mistakes for a guaranteed maximum output and zero risk of injuries.
1. Low volume work
You need to work on your hams with high volume so that they can grow. These are one of the muscles which are constantly engaged and helping you perform both basic and complex lower body exercise, so you need to stimulate them as much as you can with high number of sets and reps in order to get the optimal result.
When trying to target them best, work on them at the beginning of your workout instead of doing a few isolation exercises at the end.
2. Quad dominance
Most people over-train their quads and usually forget about the hamstrings, which leads to quad dominance.
This can hurt the legs’ balance and symmetry and increase the risk of injuries. If you want your legs to be proportioned and strong, you need to combine quad ad hamstrings exercises in the same session.
Still, in case you haven’t worked on your hams at all, the best choice is to start working on them on separate workouts from your quads, so you can focus on each area in the proper way.
3. Failing to work on each area
As mentioned before, the muscle known as the hamstring is a muscle group of three parts, and each of them should be worked on in the proper way in order to achieve balance and optimal strength development.
Seated leg curl target the inner side of the hams better, and the biceps femoris (known as the thigh biceps) can be best developed with lying leg curls. Combine these two exercises each time you work on the hams for best results.
4. Skipping the Warm-up
Many athletes suffer from underdeveloped hamstrings, which is the reason why these muscles are one of the most injured ones in sport today.
There are numerous possible reasons for hams injuries, such as tightness, muscular overload, inflexibility, gluteal dysfunction and hamstring/quad strength imbalances. Most of these can be avoided by performing dynamic stretches before starting the leg workout.
The hams are already prone to injuries, don’t make things worse by skipping the warm – up.