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Train To Gain: Hamstring Helper

If you happen to be one of the millions of bodybuilders whose hamstrings lag behind their quads, it?s time to do something about it.

If you happen to be one of the millions of bodybuilders whose hamstrings lag behind their quads, it’s time to do something about it. The following guidelines should have you on the high road to heavenly hams in no time.

Work hamstrings first or on a separate day. Training hams after quads is like making a kid work all night in a factory and then sending him off to school to learn. Your hamstrings have already performed a lot of work along with the quadriceps during squats, leg extensions, sissy squats and lunges. Start them off fresh on leg day, or train them on a different day. You’ll see results once your hamstrings have a fighting chance.

Always incorporate both functions. Leg curls are a mainstay of any hamstring-training program, but they’re only part of it. For complete development and the best results, you must include stiff-legged deadlifts each time you train. If you think leg curls alone are doing the job right, you’re missing out on the hams you deserve.

Stretch between sets. Another hidden barrier to gains is lack of flexibility in the hamstrings, which means they’re unable to achieve a complete range of motion on leg curls and stiff-legged deadlifts. A very easy way to eliminate that problem is to stretch the hamstrings after each set. Put your heel on a fixed object that’s slightly higher than your waist, then lock the knee. Lean forward at the hip without rounding your lower back. Hold for 10 seconds. Eventually, you should be able to fold your torso neatly on top of your thigh.

Leave the quads be. In extreme cases, where a trainee has significant quadriceps development and very little in the way of hams, more radical steps are called for. Quad training will have to be cut down to no more than a handful of sets of extensions and presses once a week’two or three sets each, max. Having quads that far ahead of your hamstrings is very dangerous. The risk of a hamstring tear is great’the hamstrings are antagonistic muscles to the quads, which means they stretch when the quads contract. If they’re called on to absorb a huge amount of force, as in sprinting or rebounding out of a heavy squat, the hams will often tear. If you think your hams are bad now, imagine how weak they’d be if you couldn’t train them for a few months! As much as you may love to train your freaky quads, you might just have to bite the bullet and leave them alone for awhile. IM

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