A generation ago, when men with names such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno and Franco Columbu stalked stages, hamstrings were deemed about as important to physiques as ham sandwiches or ham radios. One did a few sets of lying leg curls after quads and called it a workout. Today, hamstrings are as crucial to bodybuilding as pectorals. "Vertical blinds" on the backs of thighs are key indicators of conditioning, and ham mass adds a necessary fullness to side leg views. Still, it's rarely an easy-growing area, chiefly because hamstring training often lacks variety and intensity. This month, H.U.G.E. focuses on the backs of the legs and serves up five fresh approaches for curing your hams.
Consisting of the biceps femoris (a.k.a. thigh biceps), semitendinosus and semimembranosus, hamstrings are a relatively large muscle group. Still, it's likely you've done fewer sets for your thigh biceps than for your arm biceps, even though the latter is a smaller muscle. Do eight to 12 sets and two to four exercises in each ham workout. Even if you consistently try to give your hams the requisite dosage of hard work, it's difficult to do so if heavy squats and leg presses have exhausted much of your strength and energy first. If your rear thighs are lagging behind your front thighs, prioritize hams by working them before quads in at least half of your leg workouts.Today, many champion bodybuilders train hamstrings separately from quadriceps, giving their rear legs their own starring workouts (typically followed by calves and/or abs). This is something even an intermediate hardgainer may want to do. If, however, separate workouts don't fit into your training split, or if your rear thighs don't trail your front thighs so much that you want to consistently work hams first (which will decrease your strength in exercises such as squats and leg presses), try alternating quad and ham exercises. In our prioritization routine, you can do leg curls and squats with near-maximum strength and energy.
2. VERY HIGH REPS: A NO-NO Hamstrings are one of those areas, like abdominals, that trainers tend to think they can work details into by doing a lot of reps. This is untrue. Consistently performing very high reps (more than 20 per set) will only lead to less muscle, not less fat. Ham lines come into focus through dieting and cardio, and are rarely prominent off bodybuilding stages. That said, an occasional workout with sets of 15 reps - rather than the norm of eight to 12 - should lead to sore hams the following morning.