Hamstring Exercises

Author: Rod Ferris B.A., CPT (YMCA, ACE), CFC, CPAFLA


Hamstrings are extremely important to work for any type of athlete. Biceps femoris are made up of 2 main and 2 smaller muscles. The function of the Biceps Femoris (Hamstrings) are for knee flextion, external rotation and interal rotation. Also it extension of the hip. The origin of the hamstrings are at the ishial tuberosity and posterior of the femur. The hamstrings insert onto the Tibia at the lateral condyle and medial condyle. Two of the biceps femoris insert onto the head of the fibula.

Training and Notes

  • Hamstrings are the opposing muscle groups to the quadriceps.
  • Quads and hamstrings should be trained equally or a muscle imbalance could occur.
  • Isolating your hamstrings should be done with care as functional compound exercises will be the best to ensure proper symmetry.
  • Another name for the hamstring muscle the biceps femoris.
  • Click for an FAQ


Yes and no; the best training method to improve your sprinting speed is to train for the distance that you are sprinting. If you are sprinting for the 100 meter dash you could train for 10-15 seconds at the maximum intensity that you can. If you are training your hamstrings for this purpose you could go hard for 15 seconds and then stop and keep increasing the weight 5% per week. There are many methods to improve your speed but plyometrics and intensity matching are two of them.

This is the same principle for increasing your vertical:

You need to focus on explosion exercises of a similar action. Ie. Jump squats with weights

It all depends on your goal. The following recommendations are broken down by your goal:

1. Muscle mass workouts Hamstrings are a smaller supporting muscle and should be limited to 2-3 exercises while doing 3-4 sets for each one.

2. Strength workouts usually do high sets for each muscle but very low reps. Try to do 5-6 sets keeping your reps low and increasing your rest time to two-four minutes between sets.

3. Sports workouts should not be isolating Hamstring exercises too much as it's really as important as major muscles. Instead you could do more functional exercises that mimic the sporting action. For example, if you are a hockey player you should focus on a lot of pushing exercises and mimic movements such as pushing away an opponent or a 'punching' type exercises with a cable.

Since you are using your chest and tricpes any time you are pushing something you can switch the Hamstring exercises up on Back and Chest days. This will prevent overtraining and also give your biceps a chance to recover and use all available ATP (energy) during the Chest/Bicep days. Here is an example bicep mass building routine:

  • Decline Bench Hamstring Extensions (8-12 reps) JUMP TO ->
  • Hamstring Pressdowns JUMP TO ->
  • REST for 2 minutes and then start over for three sets.
  • When you have completed the above you can focus on doing sets of concentration curls until failure (but aim for 8-12 reps) with 2 minutes between each set.

Tracking Your Weights

There are lots of easy ways to track your sets and reps. One easy way is through a little book that you can take with you to the gym. This book has progress charts, workouts and lots of tools you can use to always make sure you are improving.

Hamstring Exercises By Muscle Activation | Read More

Standing Leg Curls 82%
Lying Leg Curls 71%
Seated Leg Curls 58%
Modified Hamstring Deads 56%

Hamstring Forum Discussions

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