WSBB Blog: Quick Guide to Hamstring Training
When training the posterior strength chain, no group of muscles is more important to focus on than the hamstrings. The hamstring muscles include the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and the semitendinosus muscles. Together, these muscles are responsible for knee flexion and hip extension, making them a high priority muscle group in the accessory training hierarchy.
Here are a few ways we approach hamstring training at Westside Barbell:
One of the best ways to place a great demand on the hamstrings and build world class posterior chain strength is through the use of deficit deadlifts for both main and accessory exercises. As a main exercise deficit deadlifts are typically done from heights of 2” to 4”, when done as an accessory exercise we have lifted from deficits as high as 6”. When performed as a main exercise we will work up to a top set of one to three reps, however when done as an accessory exercise rep ranges will be between 5 to 8 reps, sometimes working up to sets of 10 reps.
Be mindful of the weight on the bar as the deficit height rises, this places the hamstrings at an increased stretch and disadvantage at the start of the lift and can result in a hamstring injury if the set to set weight increases are misjudged.
Cambered Bar Goodmornings
This exercise is the king of all posterior chain strength exercises. The cambered bar allows for heavy barbell goodmorning training without the increased pressure on the thoracic and cervical spine experienced with the safety squat bar and olympic barbell. Due to the shape of the cambered squat bar, the weight is loaded onto the hips, glutes, and hamstrings directly making this movement extremely valuable to your squat and deadlift training.
At Westside we will do giant cambered bar goodmornings as both a main and accessory exercise, as a main exercise we will work up to a top set of three reps with the occasional workout where a top set single will be executed. As an accessory lift, this lift is generally performed for 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 8 reps.
An ideal way to program these is to work up to a top set of three for a main exercise with a lifting belt, then remove the lifting belt, lower the weight, and perform 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 8 reps as your first accessory movement.
Another specialty deadlift exercise that has maximum carryover to hamstring strength is the Romanian deadlift. This exercise is great to strengthen the hamstrings at the joint angles involved in the starting pull to the knee. To increase the effectiveness and difficulty of the exercise, a short 1 to 3 count static hold can be performed at mid shin level.
When holding a barbell in a static position in the deadlift it is important to maintain a neutral spine, specifically in the thoracic and lumbar spine, so be sure to properly brace each rep.
Those are just a few of the exercises we utilize at Westside Barbell to train our hamstrings to move as much weight as possible in the squat and deadlift. Each of these exercises should be considered priority when selecting exercises for your lower body training, and if you are not already doing these regularly then you should begin doing so immediately.