The biceps femoris is one of the three leg muscles that make up the hamstring muscle group. Get your legs in amazing shape with these hamstring exercises for fast and effective results. In addition to toned legs, this biceps femoris workout may also prevent leg injuries and muscle imbalances.
Function of the Biceps Femoris
The femoral biceps, more commonly known as the biceps femoris, is part of the hamstring muscles that play a major role in helping you do activities like walking, running and sitting. The hamstring is made up of three muscles:
- Biceps femoris
These three muscles work together to bend your knee, rotate it internally and externally and extend your leg straight back, says the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS).
The biceps femoris has two parts, a long head and a short head. The long head starts at your ischial tuberosity (also called your "sit bones"), while the short head originates at the linea aspera on your femur. They both attach at the lateral fibular head, near the outside portion of your knee.
Strong hamstrings are important. If these muscles are weak, you may become susceptible to tendonitis and other injuries. Sprinters, dancers and those who play sports, such as football, soccer or tennis, are more likely to injure this muscle group, says the Mayo Clinic.
Many people are quad dominant, meaning their quadriceps muscle is stronger than the hamstring. This may result in hamstring injuries, as well as hip and lower back pain, states the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA).
Women who wear high heels frequently will sometimes have this muscle imbalance as the position of their feet and legs results in stronger quads and weaker hamstrings. Strengthening your hamstrings may help with this muscle imbalance.
Poor flexibility or tight hamstrings is another risk factor for injury. That's why it's important to include hamstring stretches in your routine.
Read more: Quad and Hamstring Stretches
How to Train This Muscle
The biceps femoris is the muscle on the outside of the hamstring, while the inside of the hamstring consists of the semitendinosus and semimembranosus.
According to a small study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in November 2014, the biceps femoris is the part of the hamstring that is most often injured during sprinting, such as in track or football.
Biomechanical studies have found that this muscle had the most muscle-tendon-unit stretch during the swing phase in high-speed running, which may result in greater injury risk.
This doesn't mean you should focus only on biceps femoris exercises, however. The study found that there are "complex neuromuscular mechanisms within the hamstring muscle unit." Therefore, the best way to prevent injuries is to exercise all the hamstring muscles instead of just focusing on one.
It is important, however, to find those exercises that specifically activate the biceps femoris along with the other two hamstring muscles.
Read more: Top 9 Hamstring Exercises With No Weights
Discover the Best Hamstring Exercises
The American Council on Exercise looked at different types of exercises and pinpointed those that are best at activating the biceps femoris muscle while also strengthening the other parts of the hamstring. The organization conducted a small study on 16 volunteers in February 2018 and concluded the following:
As it turns out, the prone leg curl activates the biceps femoris better than any other exercise, including the seated leg-curl machine. Most gyms will have a prone leg-curl machine.
These machines require you to lay on your stomach, with the back of your lower legs under the pads. Your legs start in the straight position, and you pull against the resistance pads, bending your knee until it reaches 90 degrees, and then slowly lower back to the starting position.
; you don't have access to a leg curl machine, kettlebell swings are also very effective at targeting the biceps femoris and can be done at home. Hold the kettlebell with both hands between your legs. Bend your knees slightly and push your hips forward, standing up straight, while swinging the kettlebell out until it reaches shoulder height. Return to a slightly squatted position and repeat.
The single-arm/single-leg Romanian deadlift is another effective movement for the biceps femoris, states the American Council on Exercise. Balance our body weight on the right leg while holding a dumbbell in the left hand. Lean forward, keeping your left leg straight, until the dumbbell is almost touching the floor. Return to standing up straight and switch sides.
Try These Biceps Femoris Exercises
In addition to the above exercises, the ISSA recommends incorporating the following movements into your biceps femoris workout:
Glute bridge: Lay on your back with your knees bent, hip-width apart, and lift your bottom up. Squeeze at the top and then slowly come down.
Stability ball hamstring curls: Begin in the same position as the glute bridge, with your feet on a stability ball. Raise your hips off the ground in a bridge with your feet on the ball. Bend the knees and roll the ball toward your body and then back out again.
Romanian deadlift: Hold a barbell (or dumbbells) in front of you, with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your shoulders back and your back arched, along with a slight bend at knees, and slowly hinge forward with arms straight. The bar shouldn't go lower than the knee. Slowly come back up the starting position while pushing your hips forward.
Looking for other workouts and exercises? You can also add jogging, running stairs, lunges and side shuffles to your hamstring workout for better cardiovascular health.
- American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: "Hamstring Muscle Injuries"
- Mayo Clinic: "Hamstring Injury"
- International Sports Sciences Association: "Hamstring Exercises — Building Symmetry in Your Legs"
- British Journal of Sports Medicine: "Biceps Femoris and Semitendinosus — Teammates or Competitors? New Insights Into Hamstring Injury Mechanisms in Male Football Players: A Muscle Functional MRI Study"
- The American Council on Exercise: "What Is the Best Exercise for the Hamstring?"