One muscle group I feel gets neglected often are the hamstrings. I don’t know if it’s because people can’t see them, or if people just don’t know the importance of them – but they tend to get the leftovers.
If there is enough time “left over”, people will squeeze a few hamstring exercises in their workout. Most people who actually do hamstrings will end their leg workout with two or three exercises, but if they run out of time, guess what gets cut? Yep, you guessed it – the hammies. While gyms make it easier to work the hamstrings, because they offer specific machines just for that muscle group, people who workout at home may never actually work them at all simply because they don’t know how.
Stronger & Safer
First let me explain why you should work them – and work them more. Hamstring exercises, like straight leg dead lifts, strengthen the body to prevent injury. Let’s face it, we should always lift heavy objects with our legs (and not our back), but how many times do we bend over from the hips to pick something up on the floor? Probably more often than we should. Straight leg dead lifts not only strengthens the hamstring muscles that pull our body to an upright position, they also strengthen the low back. The stronger these muscles are, the less chance of injury doing regular daily tasks.
Second, hamstrings also improve joint movement. The hamstrings are attached at the knee and the hip. If both the hamstrings and quadriceps are attached at the same joints, but you have strong quadriceps and weak hamstrings, you can imagine how the stronger muscles will win the tug-of-war on your joints. Balancing your strength will help your body stay in proper alignment for optimal joint movement – preventing injury.
Smooth & Shapely
Lastly, hamstrings not only improve the shape of the leg, they improve the shape of the bottom too. Look at the girl in the blue dress (above), and notice the curves going up the back of her leg. That is a result of great hamstring and glute development. The less body fat you have, the more you will also see that muscle separation from the quad and the hamstring ( the line down the side of the leg).
Also, hamstring and glute exercises help the appearance of cellulite. As you develop both your glutes and hamstrings, you plump up the muscle under the fat, which smoothes skin texture and supports the subcutaneous fat and loose skin. If you feel there is no start and stop between your butt and thighs, you can change that too by ramping up your hamstring and butt routine. As you develop these muscles you will start to notice better muscle separation between the two muscle groups – creating a more toned, lifted, perkier, rounded rear end.
4 Fit Tips to Boosting Your Backside
1. Diet: You can have great legs and muscle that stay hidden under a layer of fat if you aren’t watching your diet too. If you have fat around your thighs, hips and butt, you likely need to reduce your calories to shed some body fat. See: Sculpt Your Body with What You Eat
2. Cardio: You can’t rely on weight training alone to sculpt your body. Burn more fat and tone your lower body with challenging cardio including running, elliptical, gauntlet step mill, step aerobics, power-walking hills, kickboxing or spinning. See: 15 Sweat-Your-Butt-Off-at-Home Workouts
3. Boost Protein: You can’t build muscle without protein. If you aren’t getting enough protein in your diet, your body will use stored protein (muscle) as fuel. If you want to build or sculpt muscle, it’s important to get enough protein in your diet whether it’s from whole foods or protein supplements. See: How Much Protein Do I Need?
4. Go for Variety: Learn as many exercises you can to constantly change up your routine. Not only will it be more interesting, your workouts will also be more effective. Although I always have my staple exercises, I leave room for a few different or new exercises I alternate in and out of my routine. See: 25 Butt Blaster Exercises
I’ll be the first to admit my hamstrings need work, so I’ve been taking my training up a couple of notches. If you follow my blog, you know I now split up my hamstrings and quads. I do quads and glutes at the first of the week and hamstrings and glutes at the end of the week. I’ve not only had more time to work each body part better – I also have more power and energy to train harder. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to doing legs all on one day!
Here’s my ham and glute workout I did yesterday. I change it up each time. Last week I did walking lunges and step ups. This week I did Cook Hip Lift & Curtsies. 🙂
PS: I’m sporting Reebok Realflex shoes in this pic. The realflex line is one of my favorite lines of shoes I’ve ever owned. Lightweight, super cool and very flexible.
Ham & Glute Workout
This can simple be couple of sets of light straight leg dead lifts, like with the bar only, a light jog, air squats or walking lunges.
Do 4 Sets of Each:
- 18 Straight Leg Dead Lift (I do 95lb/bar or 45lb dumbbells)
- 18 Prone Leg Curl (For Home: Leg Curl with Bands, I use Bodylastics)
- 18 Seated Leg Curl (For Home: Standing Hamstring Band Curl, I use Bodylastics)
- 20 Cook Hip Lift (also called a single leg glute bridge)
- 25 Curtsies (Tip: Don’t put any weight on the back leg)
Finish with 30 Minutes of Elliptical with a challenging resistance.
FitFluential LLC compensated me for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.