Whoa, Hamstrings

TAGS: Whoa, Roller Hyper/Leg Curl Combo, The 1-2 Punch, Pull-Throughs, underdeveloped hamstrings, exercises for hamstrings, training session, Region Barbell Club, matt ladewski, leg day, hamstrings

column-gray-032715

It’s the middle of the night after a hard leg workout. Barely out of dreamland, you start to roll over, looking to get more comfortable. Just as you get to your side, it happens: Your hamstring quivers into the mother of all maximal contractions and it won’t let go. You go from a deep sleep to perfectly wide awake in less than a second. You are now faced with a nearly impossible task. Not only do you need the hamstring to relax, but it needs to relax enough that it will not tighten up again as soon as you drift off to Neverland.


RECENT: How To Build A Bench Press with Trashy Triceps


This is often the scenario after a training session when I push my hamstrings to their limit. It takes quite a bit of work to make it happen but if I want to deadlift 800 pounds, the training must be appropriate. Years of underdeveloped hamstrings have forced me to take drastic action. I want to give you some of the Region Barbell Club hamstring favorites. There is a good chance that if done all-out that you too will be saying, "whoa, hamstrings."

I like to attack the hamstrings with both knee flexion and hip extension exercises. Most of the time I will do both in the same workout. It doesn’t always need to be a superset. There may be times it is as simple as band leg curls before the workout and then finishing them with stiff leg deadlifts. Years of underdeveloped hamstrings had my deadlift stuck at 700 pounds. The last few years have been an assault on my hamstrings. As they have gotten stronger, my deadlift started to climb once again. Invest in your hamstring work and it will pay you back in PRs.

Pull-Throughs

Sets: Four to as many as needed, until song ends.

Reps: 12 per set.

Pull-throughs are a great exercise but doing them like this will have them screaming when you are done. I prefer to do these on a cable machine but they can be done with a band. Set it up with a weight that you would use for 20-25 rep sets. You are going to perform sets of 12 reps. Put the weight down, rest 15 seconds, and go again. Do as many sets as you can for the length of a song or until your hamstrings are done.

The exercise is simple and straightforward. You are going to do squatting pull-throughs. When doing these, sit back, push the knees out, and keep your weight on your heels and outsides of your feet. Try and keep the back arched to force more of a stretch on the hamstrings. Start  with a stance the same width of your squat or deadlift stance.

This is Dave Tate explaining squatting-pull throughs. I use the same technique with the provided set/rep scheme above.

The 1-2 Punch

Sets: Four to six sets.

Reps: Good mornings for sets of six, glute ham raises for sets of 12.

Compared to some of the other things I have listed, this is pretty vanilla. This combo is about old-fashioned hard work. You will do good mornings and glute ham raises. I prefer the Rackable Cambered Bar and use bands on the glute ham raise. Do sets of six on the arched back good mornings and sets of 12 on the glute ham raise.

Warmup doing both good mornings and GHRs until you get to a good hard weight for the good mornings. This should give you two to four extra work sets of GHRs before you get to your good morning work weight. Four to six total work sets should be more than enough for most lifters.

Roller Hyper/Leg Curl Combo

Sets: Three to six. Reps: 12-20 of each without getting off the hyper. You will need access to a roller hyper for this nasty combo. I really hate the roller. Mine is older and heavier than the new versions. I both love and hate these leg curls. You can do them strict or you can add a little more swing to get more hip extension with them. No matter how you do them, do not let your knees travel toward your hands. Flex your abs and pull with your lats on every rep just like you would with regular hypers. Give up a little weight on the hypers to be able to perform the leg curl portion correctly. We use about 180 pounds when we do this combo. If the leg curls are very hard compared to the hypers, do the leg curls first and more reps on the hypers. You will need access to a roller hyper for this nasty combo. I really hate the roller. Mine is older and heavier than the new versions. I both love and hate these leg curls. You can do them strict or you can add a little more swing to get more hip extension with them. No matter how you do them, do not let your knees travel toward your hands. Flex your abs and pull with your lats on every rep just like you would with regular hypers. Give up a little weight on the hypers to be able to perform the leg curl portion correctly. We use about 180 pounds when we do this combo. If the leg curls are very hard compared to the hypers, do the leg curls first and more reps on the hypers.

GHR with Ball Overhead

Sets: Four to six.

Reps: Three to 10 dependent on weight.

This started off more as a challenge to see if I could do it than a planned workout. I started with a five-pound medicine ball and moved up to the 10-pound ball in the video. The ball over your head not only raises the center of gravity but it adds some upper back work into the mix. You can see I get tired in the video and start to cheat by arching my back more and picking up my head. This is a great alternative to adding bands around the neck. As I write this, I think a small band plus the ball would be an even nastier combo. Give that a try and see how many you get.

A video posted by Matt Ladewski (@regionbarbell) on

Back Raise Ascension Set with Ball and Sled Leg Curls

Sets: As needed, three to six of each. Reps: Back raises for eight, eight, and failure. Sled drag for distance (26 steps down and 26 back). For this workout, we had three people in our group and more rest between exercises. We chose an ascension set of eight reps bodyweight, eight with the 60-pound med ball, and then failure with the 100-pounder. After we were done we went right outside into sled dragging with the handles behind the knees.

In this video, my training partner Rob performs the sled drag/leg curls. I would like to see more of a reach and leg curl motion but by this time he was already smoked. Keeping the low back arched is also important.

A video posted by Matt Ladewski (@regionbarbell) on

Whoa, Hamstrings

Sets: One

Reps: One every time "whoa" is said during the song (~70)

This is a brilliant idea! To do this you need to be able to do a significant amount to GHRs. And when I say significant, I mean you need to be able to do a shit ton! The song "Whoa" by Black Robb has approximately 70 whoa's with only limited rest between them. All you have to do is do one rep every time he says "whoa." I was not able to keep up with every rep but I hit around 63 total. That is good, but one day I will conquer them all.

Extra Tip: lower the foot pads to make this easier to rest in the top position.

I’ve given you six different ways to kill your hamstrings. Each one provides a different type of challenge. High reps, low reps, extended time, heavy weights, and GPP cover everything you need for bigger, stronger hamstrings. I am not responsible for any cramping in the middle of the night so don’t call me for help!

Push the hamstrings and watch your records fall.

single-leg-attachment

Loading Comments... Loading Comments...