Building Great Hamstrings

Guest post from Niall Traynor and Daryl Devonish

People often under-train their legs. Some people don’t train their legs enough and others train them inadequately, particularly the back of their legs. But, if you want to have great strength or speed you need strong, well-developed hamstrings. Whether it’s pulling a weight off the floor or sprinting over short distances, your hami’s have to be strong. More importantly, if you fail to build up this area you leave yourself exposed to injury.

Have you ever seen a person pass by you and you see that subtle line of definition between their quads and their hamstrings? Nearly every woman I know wishes they had that kind of leg development. Many men take leg development for granted being more concerned with their upper bodies.

The truth is so few of us devote the attention to the back of our legs (our hamstrings) that they deserve, maybe because we don’t look at them in the mirror every day.

So whether it’s looking great on the beach or having great athletic performance it’s wise to devote a decent part of your workout routine to hamstring development.

great hamstrings

If you primarily do body weight exercises there are plenty of options to put into your routine. For a good hamstring routine you should have at least one movement where you flex at the knee joint and one where you flex at the hip joint to develop not only the hami’s but also the surrounding muscles that are engaged any time you use your hamstrings. Here’s a few body weight exercises that are great for developing the hamstrings:

  • Knee Flexion Movement: Butt Kicks
  • Hip Flexion Movement: One-legged Deadlifts, Marching B’s (sprint drill)
  • If hit the gym you have even more alternatives:
  • Knee Flexion Movements: Lying Leg Curls, Seated Leg Curls, Glute-Ham Raises
  • Hip Flexion Movement: Hyperextensions, Stiff-Legged Deadlifts, Good Mornings

Whether you workout at the gym or at home, dedicate some time for hamstring work. A great way to do this would be in your warm up prior to one of Shawna’s awesome Challenge workouts to build up strong and beautiful hamstrings.

A good idea is to do the following mobility/warm-up routine before every workout to develop not only the hamstrings but also warm-up your legs, hips, and core for the workout you are about to do.

One-legged Deadlifts – 1 set x 8 reps (each side)

Muscles Targeted: Glutes/Hamstrings/Lower Back

Trainer Tips:

  • Stand with feet slightly greater than shoulder width apart
  • Pick up foot off the ground and position behind you
  • Squeeze your butt and tighten your abs
  • Hands hang in front of you
  • Butt travels back, flat back and bend at the hips and lower hands towards the ground
  • Maintain your balance and press into the ground as you come back up to starting position
  • Continue to squeeze the glutes and abs throughout the movement
  • Butt Kicks – 1 set x 8 reps (each side)

Targeted Muscles: Hamstrings

Trainer Tips:

  • Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart
  • Take one leg and bring the heel up to you glute
  • Try to do this with a little momentum as if you are trying to slap your glute with your heel
  • Return this foot back to the ground and repeat with the other side
  • Alternate legs for each repetition until you reach your desired amount
  • Bulgarian Split Squats – 1 set x 8 reps (each side)

Targeted Muscles: Glutes/Quadriceps/Hamstrings

Trainer Tips:

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart
  • Put a chair or bench about 1 ½ to 2 feet behind you.
  • Place your left leg behind you, with the top of your foot resting on the top of the chair/bench
  • Make sure your front foot is flat on the floor, do not roll onto the ball of your foot, keep your heel down on the floor
  • Chest forward
  • Lower yourself down till right leg can go no further
  • You should feel a good stretch in your left hip, this movement will stretch you out as well as build strength
  • Press into the ground hard with your front leg and push through entire foot with your legs and butt to starting position

After your set, switch leg position, repeat on the other side

Now you’re warmed up and ready to take on one of Shawna’s fat-burning, muscle building routines. If you want to devote even more time to your hamstring development then bookend your workouts with this routine. If you do it won’t be long before you notice the difference in your performance and a have truly spectacular looking legs from every angle!

Check out ‘How Do I Get Great Leg?’ HERE