Starting From Scratch: Vol 1. Hamstrings
Every athlete begins with a training age of zero. Having never set foot in a weight room, it can be difficult to understand the path to become an elite athlete and what you must accomplish in training to help reach that level. It’s becoming too common for young athletes to see the exercises on social media that professional athletes post and try to mimic them in their own training, often leading to injuries or failure.
In a previous article, we provided a way to progress to the nordic hamstring curl, one of the most elite hamstring exercises ever created. Here is a guide to help you start from scratch and become a master of the weight room - starting with the hamstrings.
🏅Don’t neglect the prep
Reverse Sled Drags
The first thing you should do when you enter the weight room is prep your body to work. My favorite way to pump blood into my lower body is by doing 5-10 minutes of reverse sled drags. If you don’t have access to a sled, use a treadmill and walk in reverse with the treadmill off.
If neither of these are an option, grab a light set of dumbbells, get into a quarter squat position and walk backwards for the same amount of time while keeping yourself in a quarter squatted position.
🏅 Master the bodyweight basics
Standing Toe Touches
Once you’ve warmed up, move to a few bodyweight exercises that act as a primer for your workout and also help improve your mobility. Start with a standing toe touch with your toes elevated on a slant or a small plate. By keeping your knees locked, you’ll lengthen and strengthen the hamstring while using only your bodyweight.
Single-Leg Glute Bridge
Move to the ground for a single leg glute bridge. This helps to activate your glutes, hamstrings and lower back by using nothing but your own bodyweight.
Both of these exercises should be done isometrically, meaning you are holding the position for a predetermined amount of time. I like to start with 15-20 seconds and advance to 1 minute.
🏅 Learn to hinge
Everyone has seen a professional athlete posting an impressive deadlift and wanted to try it for themselves. Before you try to load a bar with weight and give your lower back a fit, learn how to hinge properly.
Start with a few simple cues and a kettlebell or dumbbell. With the weight positioned in front of you at waist height, push your butt back while maintaining a slight bend in your knees. Keep your back as flat as possible with your shoulder blades tight to maintain a neutral position. Once the weight has reached your knees, reverse the movement back to the starting position.
This is the basic movement pattern needed to properly deadlift with a barbell. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the small free weight, move to the barbell and gradually build up.
🏅 Easy Volume
The best way to grow your hamstrings and improve strength is by adding volume. In order to safely do this, it will be best to choose exercises that are difficult, but don’t put your body in danger.
Lunging & Banded Leg Curls
Lunging and banded leg curls are my go-to movements to safely add volume and put muscle on your hamstrings. Lunging will improve your legs from quad to hamstring, but the time under tension will help improve coordination and add size to your hamstrings in a hurry.
To perform a banded curl, either lay down or sit on a box with the band warped around a post. Loop the band around the back of your ankles and pull your feet towards your butt. Try to push the reps, in the 1-200 range. This is a safe and effective way to add volume to your hamstrings and help spark growth.
If you’re a beginner looking to take your athleticism to a new level, use these 4 steps to keep your body healthy and strong!
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➡️ Kick the soreness
➡️ Recover optimally
➡️ Hydrate to keep pushing harder