Hammies

THE BEST HAMSTRINGS WORKOUT FOR BEGINNERS

They may not be glamour muscles like biceps or abs, but your hamstrings are probably one of the most all-important muscle groups a lifter could ever call upon. (Plus, they make your jeans look way better.) Here’s the ideal hamstring workout for a novice.

 BY PETE WILLIAMS

DURATION  45 MIN  |  EXERCISES  6  |  EQUIPMENT   YES

Most of us have tight hamstrings from hours of sitting at a desk, navigating behind a steering wheel or wedging ourselves into an airline seat.

That’s a dangerous problem, because tightness locks up our hip flexors, shuts down our glutes and makes the hamstrings less efficient. Tight hamstrings are a product of tight hips, which are a product of inactivated glutes. That’s one reason hamstring strains and lower-back pain are so commonplace these days.

For example: people who take up running after long periods of inactivity often have hamstring issues since their hammies are in no position to execute the long, fluid strides necessary for proper running. The same is true in the weights room, in which we’re calling upon our hamstrings to execute challenging movements like deadlifts. Without fully functioning hamstrings, we’re not going to get the benefits of many of these moves, at the very least. We’re also more likely to suffer injury.

Admittedly, hamstrings aren’t very sexy. Rarely does someone admire a set of hammies the way they lust after shoulders, arms, quads and calves. But without strong and flexible hamstrings you’re going to have a tougher time developing pretty much anything else.

 

DIRECTIONS

To work the hamstrings you’ll need to address them both directly while also targeting the glutes. We’re going to perform this beginner hamstrings workout with three sets of these six exercises performed in a circuit to loosen those hamstrings and strengthen your posterior chain.

 

handwalk

 

 

 

 

EXERCISE 1:  HANDWALK

3 sets  |  10 reps  |

Start with legs straight and hands on the floor. Keeping the legs straight, walk your hands out. Then walk your feet back up to your hands, keeping your legs straight. Take baby steps using only the ankles. Avoid using the hips, knees and quads.

 

romanian

 

 

 

 

EXERCISE 2: SINGLE-LEG ROMANIAN DEADLIFT

3 sets  |  10 per leg reps  |

Balance on right foot, keeping abs tight and shoulders back and down. Bend at waist with both hands out to the sides and extend left leg back as you fire left glute. Shoulder and heel should move together, forming straight line. Return to start position.

 

sumo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXERCISE 3: SUMO SQUAT TO STAND

3 sets  |  10 reps  |

Bend at waist, grabbing underneath big toes. Keeping arms straight inside knees, pull hips down until they’re between ankles and lift chest up. Tuck chin and straighten legs, holding on to toes as you straighten the hips and knees.

Trainer’s tips 

1. Don’t let your back round at any point during the movement.

2. Don’t allow your knees to cave in as you squat down.

3. You should feel tension in your hamstrings and glutes when you reach for your toes. It should not strain your lower back.

 

SwissBall

 

 

 

 

 

EXERCISE 4: SWISS BALL LEG CURL

You’ll need: Swiss ball

3 sets  |  10 reps  |

Lying face-up on floor, put hands on physio ball, pulling toes toward shins. Squeeze your glutes until body is in a straight line from ankle to shoulder. Keeping hips raised, pull heels in towards glutes. Let ball roll back slowly as you straighten legs.

 

romanian2

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXERCISE 5: ROMANIAN DEADLIFT

You’ll need: barbell

3 sets  |  10 reps  |

Start with a lower weight and work up. Form is especially key to getting full benefit from the RDL; don’t think of the exercise as bending forward but rather as sitting back with your torso moving forward instead of staying upright.

 

bent

 

 

 

 

EXERCISE 6: BENT-OVER SINGLE-ARM, SINGLE-LEG ROW

3 sets  |  10 reps  |

Extend the corresponding leg of your lifting hand back behind you. This not only challenges you to work each side independently, as with a traditional one-arm row, but also work hamstrings while inevitably lowering the dumbbell deeper.