For mass and strength, twice a day workouts are the way to go
This is particularly true for a muscle group such as the hamstrings. To make sure you make the most out of each session however, there is a method to the madness. If you follow these guidelines for twice a day workouts, your hamstrings will grow like weeds in no time
Focus of the Workout
The morning workout focuses on the knee flexor function of the hamstrings. This only makes sense as the muscles involved in this function have a higher fast-twitch make-up.
And, because we are concerned with hypertrophy, a low rep tri-set method is well indicated for these fast-twitch muscles. Tri-sets are effective simply because they extend the training stimulus to a wider pool of motor units and increase the total time under tension for the associated muscle fibers.
The method entails the performance of three different exercises with minimal rest between sets. Simply adding a 15-second rest between exercises makes a world of difference in terms of results. This short rest makes it possible to use significantly greater loads than if no rest is taken, thereby putting greater tension on the muscles.
Hypertrophy is determined in large part by the product of time under tension and load. If you move immediately (as opposed to taking a 15-second rest) from one exercise to another, the reduced loads that must be used produce a sub-optimal training effect.
Also, note that the foot position is different in every exercise. This is to maximize recruitment of all the hamstrings motor unit pool.
Important training tip 1: Point the toes away in knee flexion exercises
When your feet are in plantar flexion, the gastrocnemius (calf muscle) is somewhat inhibited in its function as a knee flexor. The gastrocnemius is a bi-articular muscle; that is, it crosses two joints: the knee joint and the ankle. The muscle fibers are too short in the gastrocnemius to do both knee flexion and plantar flexion at the same time.
Therefore it is more effective as a knee flexor when the foot is dorsiflexed and more effective as a plantar flexor if the knee is locked in extension. This can be clearly illustrated when driving a car while sitting too close to the steering wheel. When the knees are bent, the gastrocnemius becomes ineffective, and it is thus more difficult to apply the brakes. It is the same reason why seated calf raises are prescribed to recruit the soleus muscles at the expense of the gastrocnemius muscle.
Conversely, when you bend the knee with the feet in plantar flexion, the overload shifts from the gastrocnemius and goes onto the hamstrings, making it a more effective hamstrings exercise. The cramping you are experiencing comes from the gastrocnemius, which is used to the old motor pattern trying to activate itself. This situation is only temporary, especially with twice a day workouts giving you double the stimulus.
The way to circumvent the problem rapidly is to do the concentric contraction with the feet dorsiflexed and lower the resistance for the eccentric contraction with the feet plantar flexed.
Eccentric with foot plantar flexed Concentric with foot dorsiflexed (AKA à la Poliquin)
Since you are stronger eccentrically than concentrically, the hamstrings will start getting a greater overload during that eccentric lowering because the gastrocnemius will be inactive because of the plantar flexed position.
This is a much more effective way to do leg curls.
Important training tip 2: Stretch the quadriceps between hamstrings sets.
Stretching the antagonist muscle make the agonist stronger. This is a trick I described in an earlier article
Important training tip : Pay attention to the drop-off curve
If you are forced to drop the initial load by more than 20% on any of the given exercises, you are doing too much work for your level of conditioning. So for example if, in A1, you were using 100 lbs for your first set, and by the second round you can only use 75 lbs in the good morning, stop.
By the next workout, you should be able to do at least a second round of tri-sets. It is not uncommon for trainees to do poorly on the evening workout when they first give twice a day workouts a try.
Do this routine no more than once every 5 days, and for no more than 6 weeks.
Enjoy the results,
Coach Charles R. Poliquin