Five Biggest Mistakes In Hamstrings Development

When I was a kid, hamstrings were called in bodybuilding magazines “leg biceps”.

Most people only train what they can see in the bathroom mirror: biceps and pecs.

What is fastest way to identify who is going to win at local bodybuilding show? Who has the biggest hamstrings! It shows in the quickest way who has the greatest dedication to training completely.

Most trainees fail to have big hamstrings because of the following five mistakes:

Mistake 1: Half Ass Effort In Training Them

Most people, IF they train hamstrings, do them last, when tired from squats, leg press, lunges, leg extensions.
Ask any expert on hypertrophy, he will collaborate this: hamstrings are so underdeveloped that training them properly and extensively can increase their bodyweight 5 to 10 kg.

Ben Pakulski is one the pro bodybuilders with the biggest hamstrings development. Even though he is only 5’10”, he is taller sitting down than Nick Mitchell who is 6”3”!

ben pakulski

If they are lacking behind, you will need at least 10-12 sets of them, every 5 days to boost them. If you are truly dedicated in solving the problem, I would suggest 10-12 sets of low rep knee flexion in the morning, and 8-10 sets of high rep hip extensors exercise in the afternoon.

Mistake 2: Doing Only Leg Curls for Hamstrings Development

Italian researchers were the first to point out that there is regional development occurring in hypertrophy training. There is evidence that hamstrings training with hip extensor movements (Olympic pulls, reverse hypers, good morning etc..) tend to develop the upper hamstrings while knee flexor movements (all types of leg curls) develop the portion of the hamstrings that is proximal to the knee.
What is the optimal ratio then between leg curls and hip extensor moves? It mainly depends on your training history and how often you have done mistake 2.

If you have always neglected doing hip extension movement, here is a way to absolve yourself from that mistake:

A-1 Good Mornings 8 reps at a 4020 tempo, rest 10 seconds


A-2 Reverse Hypers 12 reps on a 2012 tempo, rest 2 minutes

reverse hyper

Repeat for three more supersets.

Mistake 3: Failure To Use The Right Loads In Leg Curls

Testing on the 1 R.M. continuum on knee flexion exercises (a.k.a. leg curls) show that to stay within 70% of the maximum, you cannot do more than 8 reps. So in my opinion, leg curls done above eight reps are a complete waste of time. Furthermore, the stronger you are, the less reps you should do. So in leg curls, if you have trained them well for years, ten sets of 2-4 reps is probably your best option.

Mistake 4: Failure To Stretch The Quadriceps Statically Between Sets Of Leg Curls

Increasing the range of motion of your quadriceps prior to a leg curl exercise will increase the amount of motor units used in the hamstrings during the exercise and therefore, the effectiveness of the chosen exercise. Since the quadriceps are the antagonist muscle(s) to the hamstrings, and that stretching will allow it to relax, the force of the contraction in the hamstrings will be much greater in the subsequent contraction.

Furthermore, many bodybuilders cannot bend the knees fully during leg curls because of quadriceps tightness. Hence, stretching them well, will insure full contractions during hamstrings curls.

Mistake 5: Failure To Vary Foot Orientation During Leg Curls

Changing foot orientation changes the percentage of each of the 3 hamstrings during knee flexion. If the feet are turned out, the lateral hamstrings are more recruited. Conversely when the feet are point in, the medial hamstrings take a greater toll. Keep the feet straight, overloads the sagittal hamstrings more. People naturally select one foot orientation during leg curls, doing the foot orientation you never select will boost hamstrings development.

Eliminate those given above mistakes and see your hamstrings get big and strong!


Coach Charles R. Poliquin