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Ham-Blasted



Posted in: Training Articles, Articles by ProSource
By Terry Goodlad | Jun 12, 2006



For a lot of novice and intermediate bodybuilders hamstring training is something they do after quad training is done, sort of an afterthought, and it's done with whatever energy is left over after what they think is the "important" part of their leg training. Those guys, unless they are genetically gifted somehow with good hamstrings, will most certainly build bigger quads but their legs will never have that impressive thickness and density you only get from balanced development of all your leg muscles, including hamstrings.

Hamstring training is just as important as quad training and not only deserves, but requires just as much attention if you expect them to grow and have balanced leg development. While hamstrings may not be as large a muscle group as quads, they are responsible for giving your legs that thick and dense look from the front, back and sides that your quads simply can't do. Quad training has a role in overall leg development but hamstring training is equally important both mechanically as well as aesthetically and if your quads are not properly balanced with every muscle group in your lower body, those pins simply won't look as impressive as they should.

So, no more beefy thighs without hams to back them up, it's time they got the beating they so badly deserve, and are aching to grow from. Before we start there are a few rules that your body insists you adhere to if your hamstrings are going to become more ham and less string.


Ham Training Rules
1. Never lift the weight. It sounds crazy but it works better if you think of it as contracting your hamstrings and if you contract it hard enough the weight will move. Use weight as resistance so you can contract harder.

2. Proper form is everything. Your knee joint should never move forward of your hip joint. If you are laying down doing ham curls then force your pelvis into the bench, do not lift your butt off the bench surface. If you are doing standing curls, do not stick your butt out, again force your hips into the machine. If you are doing seated curls don't arch your back excessively.

3. Always keep tension on the muscle at the top of the movement. It's easy to let momentum move the weight but the last half of most hamstring exercises give your hamstrings the development it rarely gets and you definitely want.

4. Never pick a weight that is too heavy to do the reps in complete control. You should be able to stop the exercise any time during the movement and be in complete control of the resistance.

5. Warming up and stretching is vital to complete hamstring development as well as avoiding injury. Take time and do it right.

6. Instead of doing quad work first, hamstring training is always first before anything else. Quads come after hamstrings so you never run out of juice during a high intensity hamstring workout. Hamstring training is not anywhere near as taxing as quad training.

7. Quality of the movement is always far more important than the quantity of weight used. Hamstrings grow like weeds if you train them properly, in control with full range of motion and peak contraction.
If you stick to the rules, and they are the rules your body sets in place not anyone else, you will get a pump and you will get good and sore from each workout. If you give your body the rest and nutrition it will need to fully recover, your hamstrings will start to thicken up and in no time you will start to see that full dense development in your lower body that gives your legs balance and a very pleasing and powerful look.

The program will run just 6 weeks but it will be very intense. There will be a higher amount of volume and more focus on form than the amount of weight used. Once the 6 week program is complete you can take a one week break from hamstring training them start the program all over again and see how much further you can push your hamstring development.

Train your hamstrings only once a week
to afford them time to recover. If you chose to train them on Quad day then train them before you train quads so they get fully stimulated rather than just giving them a little of what is left after a tough quad workout. This program is all about prioritizing your hamstrings so you will still train everything else but for 6 weeks, your hamstrings are your absolute favorite bodypart to train.

Any training program is enhanced infinitely by preparing yourself mentally as much as physically for your workout. Take some quiet time before you go to the gym and visualize how your hamstrings work from a mechanical sense. How they attach at the back of the knee and the other end at the base of your glutes and when the muscle contracts and shortens, your knee bends drawing your heel closer to your butt. Just like when you flex your bicep really hard, when you flex your hamstring really hard you should feel a tight cramping at the very top of the movement when the muscle is contracted to its shortest length. Imagine moving your knee backwards so it lines up behind your hip joint. That isolates your hamstrings so the resistance is not shared with any other muscle group. Imagine how it will feel each repetition contracting your hamstrings as hard as possible through each rep of each set. That is exactly how you should perform each rep of each set of each exercise during your hamstring workout.

Week 1 and 2

Warm-up with a 45lb Olympic bar doing straight legged deadlifts. Start off with a very short range of motion and as your hamstrings warm up a little, after 10 reps or so, increase the range of motion. Do about 30 reps till you get a burn going on in your hamstrings. Make sure to keep your back flat so you don't feel anything in your lower back muscles when you do this. Putting blood in the muscle and pre-fatiguing it before your workout will help you locate and control those muscles so you can contract them as hard as possible throughout the workout.

EXERCISE SETS REPS
Laying Hamstring Curls 4 8-10
*Deadlifits from the Pins 4 8-10
Seated leg curls 4 8-10
**Walking Lunges 4 x 30 yards Stretch for a good 20 minutes after you train

*Deadlifts from the pins -- standing in front of a power rack or some other support for your barbell, wearing lifting straps, you lift the barbell from the rack. With a straight and flat back, chin up, you slowly lower the bar until its about 3 inches above your knee then rather than pull it up you draw it up by contracting your hamstrings. ** Walking Lunges -- these are different from most lunges where your quads are the prime movers. Step forward in a lunging motion with one leg back to balance you. Keeping your back flat lower your chest to your knee then draw yourself up with your hamstrings and glutes rather than push yourself up with your quads. Don't push off with your back balancing foot or you will cheat yourself out of most of the benefit of this movement.
Tips: Between each set stand on one leg balancing yourself by holding onto a machine and with your knee moved back behind your hip joint, curl your leg up behind you contracting your hamstrings as hard as possible. Alternate each leg doing about 8 of these per leg between each set.


Week 3 and 4

Same warmup as week one and two. This will be your standard warmup before every workout on this program.

EXERCISE SETS REPS
Standing leg curls 4 8
Adductor Machine 4 15
*Smith Reverse Lunges 4 8
Walking lunges 4 x 30 yards Stretch for 20 minutes after you train

*Smith Reverse Lunges -- Place a 3 inch riser in front of the smith machine in a position that is comfortable for you to perform this movement. Get under an empty bar, you won't need much resistance at first. Step one foot forward placing it flat on the middle of the riser in front of you then sitting back sticking your butt out as if you were trying to find a chair that isn't there, lower yourself until you have a 90 degree bend in your forward knee. Your knee should not drift ahead of your foot on your forward leg and your chest should be very close to your forward knee. DO NOT push off with your back foot but draw your body to an upright position by contracting your hamstrings and glutes then alternate legs. Watch your form very closely on this one and go slowly. If you do it right you may have cramping and have to stop by your second set the first time you do them.


Week 5 and 6

Same warmup as week one and two. This will be your standard warmup before every workout on this program.

EXERCISE SETS REPS
Laying Hamstring Curls 4 8-10
*Deadlifits from the Pins 4 8-10
Seated leg curls 4 8-10
**Walking Lunges 4 x 30 yards Stretch for a good 20 minutes after you train

Strict form and complete contractions are the keys to monstrous hamstring development. This program will give your hams the attention they deserve so get to it!



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