Powerlifter and Primeval Labs athlete Stephanie Sanzo aka StephFitMum is back to take you through her heavy leg day workout and show you her top 3 hamstring exercises.
| Stephanie Sanzo’s Hypertrophy Leg Workout |
2. Leg Press
3. Walking Lunges
4. Sissy Squats (Assited)
5. Leg Extension
| Top 3 Hamstring Exercises |
1. Lying Hamstring Curl
2. Romanian Deadlift
3. Nordic Leg Curl
| Squat |
Of all the bum-friendly exercises to add to your workout routine, the squat should be numero uno. True, it’s the queen exercise of butt-building, but it’s also a great movement for athleticism, flexibility, and can even tax your cardiovascular system.
| Lying Hamstring Curl |
There are a number of hamstring curl variations you can perform, but I prefer the lying face-down version. Why? It’s the version that most effectively allows you to get the hamstring muscles in the fully shortened or contracted position. In my experience, this leads to optimal recruitment of muscle fibers and superior muscle activation. Strengthening your hamstring in this extreme end of the range of motion helps significantly reduce your risk of injury.
Here’s how: In exercise science, we learn that every muscle abides by the law of the “length-tension relationship.” At the end-ranges of motion when a muscle is either fully shortened or fully lengthened, it is very weak and unable to produce a lot of tension—making it more prone to injury.
A muscle is usually strongest in the mid-range of motion where it can produce maximum tension and force. Most people only build strength in this mid-range and never address their weaker end-ranges—exacerbating the natural imbalance and putting themselves at greater risk for injury.
| Romanian Deadlift |
Two words—intensity and functionality. First, the RDL allows a much higher intensity level (basically more weight can be used) than a leg curl does. Considering that hamstrings are made up of primarily fast twitch muscle fibers which are best trained with higher intensity levels, the RDL is one of the most effective hamstring exercises you can do.
Second, the RDL is also far more functional than leg curls. Sorry folks, but leg curls are not a functional exercise. Although it may seem like knee flexion is a big part of your every day activities like running and walking, a look at the true biomechanics of these activities shows that it is, in fact, hip extension that plays the major role in these activities.
| Nordic Leg Curl |
Sure, you could just do some lying ham curls, but a 2009 study concluded the floor version (aka Russian curl, Nordic curl, or “natural” glute-ham raise) was the top single-joint hamstring movement in terms of EMG activity. This doesn’t mean it’s an adequate replacement for, say, squats or stiff-legged deadlifts. It just means it’s a perfect complement for them.
To perform them, just place a pad under your knees and hook your knees under a solid support—or even the knee pads on a lat pull-down station. But be warned: These are tough!
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