It's all too easy to spend a lot of time exercising the muscles you can see in the mirror and all but forget the ones that you can't. In leg training, that means working your quads and forgetting your hamstrings. There are three muscles in the hamstrings; biceps femoris, semimembranosus and semitendinosus. These muscles work together to flex your knees and extend your hips. Reduce your chances of hamstring injuries, improve your sports performance and make your legs look better from the side and rear by training for stronger hamstrings.
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Resistance Training Machines
If you are a beginner to exercise or simply want to be able to focus 100-percent on working your hamstrings and forget about balancing weights or tricky exercise techniques, resistance machines are for you. You can strengthen your hamstrings by performing seated, standing or lying leg curls, leg presses with a high foot placement, standing hip extensions or Smith machine good mornings and stiff-legged deadlifts. As resistance machine operation can vary from one manufacturer to another, ask your resident gym instructor how to use any machines you are unsure of. (See ref 2)
Freeweights are very versatile and include barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells. Most gyms have freeweights and they are also available and suitable for home use. Good freeweight hamstring exercise include barbell deadlifts, stiff-legged deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, supine plate drags, kettlebell swings and deep squats. (See ref 3)
You can also strengthen your hamstrings using little more than your bodyweight and, in some cases, the appropriate type of exercise bench. Bodyweight exercises are generally safe and easy to learn and many can be performed in your home or wherever you have a small amount of space. Bodyweight hamstring exercises include supine hip bridges, natural hamstring curls, 45-degree back extensions, stability ball leg curls, glute-ham raises and partner-resisted leg curls. (See ref 2)
Sprinting is a very simple but effective way to exercise your hamstrings. The action of pulling the ground beneath and behind you involves both knee flexion and hip extension which makes sprinting a total hamstring exercise. If you are new to sprinting, do not head to the track and try and sprint flat out straight away -- unless you like being injured that is. Start of with 70-percent efforts over 30 to 40 yards and increase speed and distance gradually as you become more accustomed to this strenuous exercise. (See ref 4)