Do you want to build your hamstrings for your competition? I mean those SEXY legs with the sharp ham/glutes tie-in to make heads turn? Most competitors slay away on their leg training week after week, month after month, and sadly year after year and NEVER make any remarkable ham development progress.
Could it be that your body just can’t build hams? Could it be that you are destined to have weak and underdeveloped hams while your competition struts across stage with well-developed legs and glutes?
While the squat targets ALL the muscles in your legs and glutes, you need to put further emphasis on the back of your legs if you want to build your hamstrings.
You see, the hams are on the backside of your legs and you don’t see the development as much. This can lead to skipping ham training at times, choosing poor exercises, and just not putting the necessary intensity into your rear leg training for proper development.
Now, the secret to building GREAT legs is in building GREAT hamstrings. So, let me be blunt with you. You are not, and I repeat, you ARE NOT GOING TO BUILD GREAT HAMS BY DOING LEG CURLS ONLY for your hammie training. *gasp* Who did I offend?
IFBB Figure Pro Training Tips and Tricks… A MUST READ!
Now that we got that out of the way, are you ready to learn the little tips, tricks and secrets the IFBB Figure Pro gals are using to build great hams? By using the tactics and tips I am about to reveal, you can have eye-popping hammies in just months!
It’s a fact that most lifters put less emphasis on their ham training. Now don’t get me wrong, they don’t neglect their ham exercises completely, but they just don’t give them enough quality attention in regards to quality exercises. Furthermore, many figure athletes are not doing the CORRECT exercises to actually BUILD their hams to balance out their quad development.
I’ve seen them in the gym doing lying leg curls, 4 sets of 21-15 reps, then they move on to the seated leg curl, hitting another 4 sets of 12-15 reps, then walking over to the standing leg curl slaying away at 4 sets of 12-15 reps, and some even follow-up with standing cable leg curls as a finisher.
I am not saying that leg curls are bad or even wrong. Of course leg curls have their place in a leg workout, BUT leg curls, standing, seated, or lying are not and will NEVER build the thick hams you need for optimal leg balance to compete in a figure contest.
If you want well-developed hamstrings, hamstrings that the judges give first place to, hams that will make your competition panic, then you need to pay attention to the inside information I’m about to give you about stiff-legged dead lifts.
Stiff-Legged Deadlifts to Build Your Hamstrings
When you see those figure competitors with well-developed legs and a stunning ham/glutes tie-in, that’s a woman who trains for muscle balance in her legs with proper training using stiff-legged deadlifts (SLDL).
There is absolutely no doubt about it. SLDLs are the ABSOLUTE most IMPORTANT exercise there is for developing the hamstrings.
I guess you are wondering why stiff-legged deadlifts are so great. The reason lies in the ham structure. You see, the hams consist of a group of three muscles.
The biceps femoris is the muscle that flexes your knee back and froth, as in the leg curls. The semimembranosus and semitendinosusu muscles extend your hip, as in the stiff-legged deadlift.
The first two hamstring muscles, the semimembranosus and the semitendinosusu, are assistants and help move the biceps femoris in bending the leg. So, there are two actions that can take place with your hamstrings, the knee flexes and the hips extend. Each of the three muscles assists the others.
Why Many Figure Athletes Have Poor Hamstrings And How YOU Can Develop Your Hammies…
The PROBLEM most figure competitors encounter in their hamstring training is they completely neglect the semimembranosus and semitendinosusu muscle exercises. The SLDL targets the semimembranosus and semitendinosusu muscles, which is why you NEED to do stiff-legged deadlifts in your training.
Here’s why… The muscles of the hams cross the hip and knee joint. (Example: knee flexion on the leg curl machine and the hip extension from SLDL.) Now, since the muscle crosses at the two joints, it MUST be trained at BOTH joints to be fully stimulated. Nearly all the work from the SLDL occurs at the hip joint and the work is performed by the semimembranosus and semitendinosusu muscles.
Grey Evans at LiveStrong.com goes on to state that the stiff-legged deadlift targets your hammies more than any other leg exercise according to a 1999 study in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.”
This is where most figure gals make the horrible training mistake. They use ONLY leg curls for their ham training development. The end result is undeveloped hamstrings and unbalanced legs.
Stiff-Legged Deadlift Execution
A lot of competitors avoid the SLDL, suggesting that it hurts their back. Sure, if your form is wrong, it will hurt your back. You see, the stiff-legged deadlift is a hip movement, NOT a back movement. When you do this exercise correctly, you will build your hamstrings.
The CORRECT way to do the SLDL is to stand straight up with the bar in front of you. Keep your shoulders back and your chest high. Now, while keeping your lower back tight, slowly drop your hips behind you, pushing your backend out. DO NOT swing the bar out in front of you, but rather allow it to fall slowly, pulling you down in the direction of your shoes as your legs move back and out of the way.
Stay in control. When your hips stop moving, have gone back as far as possible, your hamstrings have stopped working. The movement is over, it is not necessary to go any further. Anything beyond this point will involve the lower back.
Now, rise slowly, concentrating on contracting your hamstrings and pushing your hips forward. Do Not lift the bar with your arms or back; use your hams. Squeeze and flex your hams. Make your hammies do the work.
Leg curls are a secondary exercise to build your hamstrings. The lying leg curl, seated leg curl, standing leg curl all hit the same area of the hamstrings, the biceps femoris. Therefore, there’s no reason for doing all of them in one leg workout. Choose 1 or 2 curling exercises and that’s it.
The most common error I see when figure competitors do lying leg curls is their hips come up off the mat when curling. Keep your entire body planted on the lying leg curl machine when doing lying leg curls.
As you curl the weight up, stop when you feet reach a 90-degree angle or just before the movement loses momentum, and then lower slowly. It’s important to stay in control when doing leg curls.
Pointing your toes can bring your calves into play more, taking emphasis off of your hamstrings, so be sure to flex your feet when doing leg curls.
Now, do you really want to know how to build your hamstrings? All you need to do is follow my Killer Quads Program. Everything you need to do is outlined to the letter. It’s the EXACT same leg training program I used to boost my placement in just one season. You can use the same program, Killer Quads.
Karen Sessions – Figure Coach
Thanks for reading over my article! I hope you found the information helpful. If you have any questions you can contact me directly using the “Contact Link” at the top of the page. I answer all emails.
If you did like this article then you should sign-up for my FREE Contest Prep Insider Lessons. These lessons provide science-based information on fat loss, muscle gain, and contest prep. Get the facts and you get the results.