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  1. #1
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    Best Exercises to Target Hamstrings?

    Best Exercises to Target Hamstrings? ...at home!

    Limited to home equipment: olympic bench, olympic barbell, olympic plates, standard barbell, standard plates, trap bar, hammer bar, dumbbells, and ez curl bar.

    Was doing squats but injured my serratus anterior muscle and could not lift for 6 weeks during the VID lockdown. Never felt them in my hams anyway.

    Still do deadlifts and love them, but never feel them in my hamstrings either.

    Tried stiff back, stiff legged deadlifts today. Got a little bit of a stretch, might need more weight.

    My bench has a little leg extension thing so I tried doing leg curls today and it hurt my quads.

    Any advice sincerely appreciated.
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    I’ve done it all, and no exercise comes close to back bridging for me. Once you do them correctly that is.
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    Try Romanian deadlift instead of the stiff legged deadlift. There is an instructional video in the Deadlift 101 sticky at the top of the section. The exercises are similar, but you'll target the hamstring better using the former exercise.

    Good mornings are another good choice too.
    615 @ 91.9kg
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    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Yeah, it's very important to get the hip hinge movement right - many people still articulate their spines instead. This can be dangerous once you start cranking the weight up - whereas a pure hip hinge can handle a huge amount of weight.
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    Registered User Zeke2112's Avatar
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    As far as the back bridge my breakdancing days are over! :P

    I might be able to do a beginner version if there is one.

    Tried Good Mornings but they hurt my lower back.

    Romanian Deadlift looks like it is worth trying again if I can get the proper form down.


    Thank you both.
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    Registered User Zeke2112's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    Yeah, it's very important to get the hip hinge movement right - many people still articulate their spines instead. This can be dangerous once you start cranking the weight up - whereas a pure hip hinge can handle a huge amount of weight.
    Hip hinge? Which exercise?
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    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Zeke2112 View Post
    Hip hinge? Which exercise?
    It's not an exercise it just means moving at the hip joint - but it's the basis for deadlift, RDL, good morning and others.

    Eric Helms and Alan Thrall both have good videos on the RDL which is probably the best way to learn it.
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    Bodyweight ham curls using your arms to hold something to take some weight

    Band curls

    RDL
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    Originally Posted by Zeke2112 View Post
    As far as the back bridge my breakdancing days are over! :P

    I might be able to do a beginner version if there is one.

    Tried Good Mornings but they hurt my lower back.

    Romanian Deadlift looks like it is worth trying again if I can get the proper form down.


    Thank you both.
    Look up convict conditioning, there are progressions for the bridge. Again, this is someone who has done deadlifts off the floor, RDLs, stiff leg deficit deadlifts, good mornings, hyperextensions....nothing has helped my backside (including hamstrings) more than bridges. You could try Nordic curls as well but be warned, they are much harder than they look/sound.
    Last edited by BeginnerGainz; 05-21-2020 at 12:55 PM.
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    Originally Posted by jamesrobert1997 View Post
    Stretching plays a big role in preventing injuries during workout.
    Not really

    no conclusive statements can be made about the relationship of stretching and athletic injuries
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15233597/
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  11. #11
    Registered User Zeke2112's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    It's not an exercise it just means moving at the hip joint - but it's the basis for deadlift, RDL, good morning and others.

    Eric Helms and Alan Thrall both have good videos on the RDL which is probably the best way to learn it.

    So according to the RDL video in the sticky, I will need to tighten up my core and arch my back a bit. Keep barbell close to legs. Slight bend in knees when lowering.

    Thank you for the names I will look up their videos too.
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    Registered User Zeke2112's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jamesrobert1997 View Post
    Take rest to heal injury, and then start gradually with correct posture and techniques. Stretching plays a big role in preventing injuries during workout.
    I'm healed now or I would not be lifting. Did a 6 week rehab with stretching and strengthening videos targeting serratus. Injury was actually from having the forks too high during bench press.

    Doing some dynamic stretching.

    Thank you.
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    Registered User Zeke2112's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Halfway View Post
    Bodyweight ham curls using your arms to hold something to take some weight

    Band curls

    RDL
    Not sure how to do bodyweight ham curls. Is it finding something to hold back of legs while raising upper torso?

    No bands right now but I could probably get some.

    Definitely going to try RDL next week. Going to watch videos on proper form and hip hinge this weekend.

    Thank you.
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  14. #14
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    Hack squats work 4 me
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    Look up convict conditioning, there are progressions for the bridge. Again, this is someone who has done deadlifts off the floor, RDLs, stiff leg deficit deadlifts, good mornings, hyperextensions....nothing has helped my backside (including hamstrings) more than bridges. You could try Nordic curls as well but be warned, they are much harder than they look/sound.
    Thank you. Going to give different versions a shot to see what I can do.
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    Originally Posted by imallin View Post
    Try Romanian deadlift instead of the stiff legged deadlift. There is an instructional video in the Deadlift 101 sticky at the top of the section. The exercises are similar, but you'll target the hamstring better using the former exercise.

    Good mornings are another good choice too.
    RDL for the win! If I can get my hip hinge or form right then I can try good mornings again too. Thank you.

    Awesome suggestions from everybody, very appreciated.
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    Registered User Zeke2112's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    Look up convict conditioning, there are progressions for the bridge. Again, this is someone who has done deadlifts off the floor, RDLs, stiff leg deficit deadlifts, good mornings, hyperextensions....nothing has helped my backside (including hamstrings) more than bridges. You could try Nordic curls as well but be warned, they are much harder than they look/sound.
    Thank you, I will look them up.
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    Originally Posted by Zeke2112 View Post
    RDL for the win! ...
    No. It's hard style (explosive) kettlebell swings. Apparently, it's a better hamstring builder than leg curls, just like the below parallel high bar squat builds twice as much ass as the hip thrust..
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    Romanian deadlifts I like because it seems to keep constant tension on the hamstrings, and good mornings I like because I get great ham activation - but also some lower back work plus it seems to help with my squat too. So usually for hamstring work, I stick with those two - I hardly ever do any leg curls even though I have the attachment for them. Maybe it's just me but I can never really feel my hamstrings when doing leg curls(unless they're standing, but those are a real pain to perform anyways), hinging exercises seem to really get them burning hard.
    Last edited by TheShadowMan; 05-26-2020 at 03:03 AM.
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    I’ve done it all, and no exercise comes close to back bridging for me. Once you do them correctly that is.
    I will second this. I just started doing them at home after the gyms closed, and it really smashes the hamstrings. I was just using my coffee table to put my feet up on and using a weight plate on my waist.
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    I like RDLs and Glute Ham Raises.
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    I always sis RDL at the gym but am doing landmine RDL.

    I really like them. I feel more of a stretch than BB RDL.

    I find the landmine version slightly more lower back friendly than RDL.

    BB RDL are great though!
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    RDL and DB leg curls



    Add a slight plank position to raise torso and work on keeping hips down for a better ROM and MMC
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    Actually lifts
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    Trap bar RDL is easier on your lower back than regular RDL and more forgiving if your form is slightly off, and is closer form-wise than a landmine.
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    Trap bar RDL is easier on your lower back than regular RDL and more forgiving if your form is slightly off, and is closer form-wise than a landmine.
    I read an interesting comment question that went unanswered on another website regarding trap bar romanian deadlifts. Would you mind giving a shot answering a relevant question given your position on the matter?

    While there is undoubtedly a big difference between traditional DL/Trap bar DL in regards to stressing the spine, I think the difference in the RDL is very minor. As seen from the side view of the trap bar RDL, the center of the trapbar passes right in front of the knees, just as a straight barbell would have done. In a regular DL, the knees are in front of the trapbar, whereas behind the regular barbell.

    Don’t you agree?
    I agree with the bolded, but maybe I'm just uninformed?




    For what it's worth, regarding the best hamstring specific hypertrophy exercises (for me):

    Hip Hinge:
    Romanian Deadlifts

    Knee Flexion:
    Kneeling Leg Curl

    I'm also a fan of Hip Thrusts and 45 degree rounded back hyperextensions
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  27. #27
    Registered User air2fakie's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Camarija View Post
    I read an interesting comment question that went unanswered on another website regarding trap bar romanian deadlifts. Would you mind giving a shot answering a relevant question given your position on the matter?



    I agree with the bolded, but maybe I'm just uninformed?




    For what it's worth, regarding the best hamstring specific hypertrophy exercises (for me):

    Hip Hinge:
    Romanian Deadlifts

    Knee Flexion:
    Kneeling Leg Curl

    I'm also a fan of Hip Thrusts and 45 degree rounded back hyperextensions
    I agree with part of it - in that the difference on lower back stress between the two bars for regular DLs should be greater than that for RDLs, but I don't agree that the difference is minor between the two for RDLs (significance is somewhat subjective so it depends on what you're looking for).

    Standing inside the trap bar puts the center of mass more in line with your body and allows you to move your hips back easier. I guess it's possible depending on how you're doing it and your dimensions that the bar's center could be in front of your knee when it passes it.

    I don't have a trap bar in quarantine so can't check where the bar's center is exactly for each part of the movement, but the slight diff in location of the center of mass makes enough of a difference for me (and many others) to notice, so trap bar RDLs tend to be good if you have lower back issues generally, you're not good with the movement or you just want to give your lower back a break every so often.

    But in the end, if you don't notice any difference, then I don't see any reason to ever do trap bar RDLs over barbell RDLs. You can mess up your lower back with poor form on either. Some people hate trap bars anyway.
    Last edited by air2fakie; 05-28-2020 at 08:01 PM.
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  28. #28
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    Originally Posted by SwagMorris View Post
    RDL and DB leg curls



    Add a slight plank position to raise torso and work on keeping hips down for a better ROM and MMC
    Hamstring isolation is tricky without a machine. I couldn't make this method work, the DB was either too light or kept slipping out.

    Now I hang a band from the barbell in the rack, lie underneath it on my back and loop the band around my ankles. Keep upper leg in a fixed position and curl your heels towards your butt. Works suprisingly well.
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    Hamstring isolation is tricky without a machine. I couldn't make this method work, the DB was either too light or kept slipping out.

    Now I hang a band from the barbell in the rack, lie underneath it on my back and loop the band around my ankles. Keep upper leg in a fixed position and curl your heels towards your butt. Works suprisingly well.
    I have been doing many variations of banded hamstring curls while doing home workouts and they have worked very very well, at least from a "feeling" standpoint. I essentially do partials starting with the muscle in the most lengthened position, and then I do more partials but shift my body and/or the band to then target the range of motion where the muscle is at a shorter length.

    I do really like glute ham raises for hamstrings. I have never been able to do Romanian deadlifts and make them work well for me. perhaps I will try again once I finally get equipment.
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  30. #30
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    Hamstring isolation is tricky without a machine. I couldn't make this method work, the DB was either too light or kept slipping out.

    Now I hang a band from the barbell in the rack, lie underneath it on my back and loop the band around my ankles. Keep upper leg in a fixed position and curl your heels towards your butt. Works suprisingly well.
    That’s a pretty neat idea. I’ve tried several isolation movements for hamstrings since getting a home gym 2 years ago. Banded DB leg curl, looping a light band the DB and the rack works well for me too.

    With my wife, I noticed her ankle mobility was her weakness in the DB leg curl. She’s worked on form and can execute it pretty well now.

    When I started rotating a commercial gym back in, I noticed I liked leg curl machines less than using a DB. But leg curl machines are all different.
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