Posted on February 07, 2018 by Louisa Feary
When it comes to leg day, most people think “my quads are going to be in bits tomorrow” or “must remember to super set with calf exercises” but how many people think about their gains posteriorly?
Whether you’re wanting to improve performance on the rugby field, bulletproof yourself against ugly injuries or look awesome in a pair of shorts ready for the summer, the hamstrings are a must area to target!
The hamstrings comprise of 3 main muscles; the Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus and Biceps Femoris. The hamstring’s main function is flexion of the knee and assisting in extension of the hip, pivotal movements in sport and everyday life, and helping stabilise us through opposing motions. Weak hamstrings can result in chronic knee pain and lower back pain.
Here are 3 hamstring exercises everybody must install into their training programme!
Without doubt the best exercise to target the hamstrings as well as hitting the rest of the posterior chain (glutes, back muscles). Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs) are great for improving mobility and dynamic flexibility which are key components to any athlete participating in most sports.
Here is a quick and simple guide to follow to execute the RDL;
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell at thigh level. Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your back straight by activating the back muscles, bend at your waist and sit your hips back to lower the bar.
- Keep the bar close to your shins and lower as far as your flexibility allows.
- Forcefully contract your glutes to extend at your hips and stand up.
IMPORTANT: Work beyond the knee level ensuring that we maintain good posture, stay activated and go through full range of motion.
RDL’s can be performed with a barbell, kettlebell, dumbbell, bands and a whole host of other objects.
Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts
It would be criminal not to add this insanely effective variation of the RDL into your programme for variation and reduction of injury risk. The Single Leg RDL has all the benefits of the RDL including these handy gems… If you suffer with back pain or want to reduce loading on the spine due to other movements that you may have programmed, this is the exercise for you! Another reason this exercise is so effective is that the single leg RDL requires you to control and stabilise your whole body.
Executing the single leg version of the RDL using a kettlebell or dumbbell;
- Maintain neutral spine and activate back muscles throughout the movement
- Stand with one foot resting on the floor behind the other for stability
- Keep the supporting leg soft in the knee
- Slow on the descent down to maximise stability and control
- At the bottom of the movement pause for 2-3 seconds and return standing up, activating the glutes
- Like the standard RDL, the focus here isn’t so much on load but effectively loading the hamstrings
Again, here we have a fantastic hamstring exercise which is highly functional and transferable to most sports and physical activities. The kettlebell swing not only obliterates your hamstrings but also targets shoulders, glute and the trunk muscles.
Here’s how to execute a boss kettlebell swing and become bulletproof and buff;
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out slightly and knees slightly bent; look straight ahead. Hold the kettlebell between your legs using a two handed, overhand grip.
- Keeping a straight activated back, bend or hinge your hips back until the kettlebell is between and behind your legs; activate your glutes to extend your hips and swing the weight up, keeping your arms straight.
- Let the weight swing back between your legs as you hinge your hips and slightly bend your knees. Extend your hips and knees to reverse the momentum as you immediately begin the next swing.
So, there you have it, 3 bulletproofing hamstring exercises to improve performance and make those legs look mega in those shorts for the summer!
Luke Trim, Beaufort Park