TRAINING THE HAMSTRINGS AND GLUTES
The hamstrings (posterior of the thigh) are another major muscle group (in volume) but surprisingly, are very dissimilar from the quads.
1. While the quads are primarily slow-twitch dominant, the hamstrings are more balanced between slow-twitch and fast -twitch muscle fibers with fast –twitch fibers having only a slight edge. So the hamstrings are trained differently from the quads. As a result, hamstring exercises should be performed with a slow eccentric movement and an explosive concentric movement.
2. The hamstrings have only two major movement patterns; hip flexion and knee flexion (flexing at the hips and flexing at the knee)
3. The different sections of the hamstrings appear to work more in unison as opposed to the quads where the different muscles have more specialized functions. Only the Bicep Femoris muscle of the hamstring shows more activity during knee flexion.
You’ll notice that the glutes are included in the anatomy chart. While not a part of the hamstring complex, the glutes serve much the same function as the hamstrings and are affected by the same exercises.
While some exercises for the quads also have an effect on the hamstrings and glutes and are definitely useful in development of the hamstrings, the positive effects are only during a portion of the range of motion. Squats, hack squats and leg press all affect the hamstrings and glutes when “coming out of the hole”. That is, coming out of the bottom half of the movement. On leg press and hack squats you’ll get better activation of the hamstrings if you place your feet as high as possible on the foot plate.
The top exercises for the hamstrings that follow will include videos. Since hip flexion is generally required, the lower back also comes into play so you want your form to be correct. Begin with light weight and master your form before progressing to heavier loads. Most can also be done with kettle bells or dumbbells, bands or other apparatus. Go to the "Calculators/Resources" tab at the to of the article for other suggestions.
Romanian Deadlift (also called a straight legged deadlift)
Deadlift or Sumo deadlift (studies show little or no difference in muscle activation so use whichever works best for you)
Lying Leg Curl