Tip: A New Way to Murder Your Hamstrings

How to turn a glute-building exercise into a ham killer. Warning: It's gonna hurt real bad.


Looking for a new way to build your hamstrings? Try these.

Triple-Threat Hamstring Bridge

  • A1: Long Hamstring Bridge (toes down) x 5-10
  • A2: Medium Hamstring Bridge (toes down) x 5-10
  • A3: Regular Hamstring Bridge (heels down) x 5-10

Do 5-10 reps in each position, finishing each with a 5-10 second isometric hold – contract as hard as possible and battle against gravity.

Master bodyweight before you add a barbell (or even use a sandbag across your hips). Besides being a good hamstring builder, these can also work as an activation exercise with bodyweight only, helping feel your hamstrings later in the workout.

This is a form of mechanical drop set. You start with the hardest position (knees straight, toes down), and finish with the position where you have the greatest mechanical advantage (knees at 90 degrees, heels down).

Adding isometric holds into the equation allows you to get a little more time under tension in each position. Isometrics will help you tap into the abundance of high-threshold motor units your hamstrings contain.

Hams, Not Glutes

You probably already use a combination of hamstring curls and hip hinges (RDLs, back extensions, pull-throughs, etc.) to train your hamstrings, but bridges are often left out. Normally, lifters do glute-dominant bridge variations. To hit your hamstrings, you make a few changes:

  • Driving through your toes encourages a co-contraction of your calves and hamstrings. "Active insufficiency" of the gastrocnemius increases hamstring activation.
  • Using a larger angle at the knee increases hamstring length and moment-arm length, placing more tension through the hamstrings.
  • Elevating your feet on a box or bench changes leverage factors to bias more hamstring dominance, as opposed to elevating your back (hip thrusts) which will bias the glutes.

All of these factors can be manipulated to target your hamstrings during bridges.

Gareth Sapstead is a leading strength and physique coach from the UK. He specializes in problem solving and breakthrough training techniques.

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