Best Hamstring Exercises for Muscle Growth

Best Hamstring Exercises for Muscle Growth

Jan 28, 2024 · Zed Walls

Best Hamstring Exercises for Muscle Growth

Imagine the smooth, controlled motion as you hinge at the hips, the tension building in your hamstrings with each deliberate repetition. You're likely familiar with the importance of these powerful muscles that form the back of your thighs, but when it comes to adding mass, you're going to need more than just the conventional leg curls. You'll want to focus on specific exercises that not only challenge these muscles but also promote growth and enhance your overall lower body strength.

As a professional, I can tell you that there's a fine line between effective training and overexertion, which can lead to injury. I'm here to guide you through that delicate balance with techniques that will target your hamstrings without overstressing them.


hamstring mass key takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • Hamstring training is crucial for lower body strength and overall mass building.

  • Incorporating both isolation and compound exercises is important for significant growth in hamstring mass.

  • Consistency, proper form, and progressive overload are essential for hamstring growth.

  • Aim for 8-12 reps per set and gradually increase the weight lifted to challenge the hamstrings and promote adaptation.

Hamstring Anatomy Explained


Understanding the anatomy of your hamstrings—three pivotal muscles named Biceps Femoris, Semimembranosus, and Semitendinosus—is crucial for both enhancing performance and preventing injuries. Your hamstring muscles are located at the back of your thigh, running from the hip to just below the knee joint. They play a key role in hip extension and knee flexion, meaning they help you extend your leg behind your body and also flex the knee.

The hamstrings are a group of three muscles that work together synergistically. The Biceps Femoris (long head) is particularly involved in hip extension, while all three contribute to knee flexion. When you're performing compound exercises like squats or deadlifts, your hamstring and glute muscles are engaged to support the movement.

To build eccentric knee flexor strength, essential for decelerating your body during running or landing from a jump, focus on exercises that lengthen the hamstrings under tension, such as the single-leg Romanian deadlift. Strengthening these muscles is not only practical for power generation but also serves as a preventative measure against strains and tears, which are common in sports requiring rapid accelerations and decelerations.

Essential Equipment Overview

 Essential Equipment Overview

To maximize your hamstring training, you'll need certain key pieces of equipment that cater to both compound and isolation exercises. Building mass requires a combination of movements that target your hamstrings from various angles and with different intensities. Here's what you should have in your arsenal:

  1. Leg Curl Machine: Essential for hamstring curl variations, this machine allows you to perform both seated and prone leg curls. It's designed to ensure you can achieve a full range of motion, isolating the hamstrings effectively.

  2. Barbells and Weights: For compound lifts such as the Romanian deadlift (RDL) and stiff leg deadlift, you'll need a barbell. Grip the barbell firmly and focus on movements like the RDL, barbell good morning, and Single Leg RDL to engage your hamstrings comprehensively.

  3. Stability Ball: A versatile piece of equipment for bodyweight exercises. Use it for hamstring curls to challenge your stability and enhance muscle activation. It's also great for progressing into more challenging exercises as you gain strength.

Each piece of equipment is vital for a well-rounded routine. By incorporating exercises like the leg curl machine's isolation work and the compound movements requiring you to grip the barbell, you'll foster significant growth in your hamstring mass.

Top Mass-Building Hamstring Movements


Frequently overlooked, stiff leg deadlifts are powerhouse movements for hamstring development, offering a deep muscle stretch and significant mass-building potential. When performing stiff leg deadlifts, you're not just working on hamstring strength; you're setting the stage to build bigger, stronger legs. The key to maximizing their effectiveness is to ensure a controlled motion that emphasizes the hamstring stretch at the bottom of the movement.

To focus on strength and size, incorporating progressive overload into your routine is crucial. Gradually increase the weight you use for stiff leg deadlifts, but maintain proper form to avoid injury. Similarly, Romanian deadlifts should be a staple when training your hamstrings. They are similar to stiff leg deadlifts but allow for a slight bend in the knees, which can help target the muscles slightly differently.

Strengthening your hamstrings isn't just about the heavy lifters, though. Lying leg curls, preferably performed on a machine that supports your body, are excellent for isolating these muscles. The controlled movement helps build the muscle without overworking it.

Don't forget unilateral exercises like the Bulgarian Split Squat. These not only contribute to hamstring mass but also improve balance and coordination. Remember, to see real progress, consistency and gradually increasing the challenge are key.

Sample Hamstring Mass Routine


Building on these powerhouse movements, let's outline a sample hamstring mass routine that incorporates the exercises mentioned for optimal development. Your goal here is to hit the hamstrings hard and effectively, using the best hamstring exercises to enhance both size and strength potential.

Here's a weekly routine you can follow for building strength and addressing muscle imbalances:

  1. Stiff Leg Deadlifts: Start with 4 sets of 6-8 reps. This deadlift variation is exceptional for targeting the hamstrings, providing a solid foundation for exercises for mass.

  2. Lying Leg Curls: Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps. As a focused Strengthening Exercise, this movement isolates the hamstrings and is a great addition to your hamstring workouts.

  3. Wide Stance Box Squats: Include 3 sets of 8-10 reps. This exercise not only emphasizes your hamstrings but also contributes to overall lower body power.

Remember to incorporate Plate Drags and traditional Deadlifts into your routine on alternating weeks to keep your training of the hamstrings diverse and challenging. Consistency, along with proper form and progression in resistance, will be key to unlocking your hamstrings' full growth potential.

Reps and Sets for Hypertrophy


When aiming for hamstring hypertrophy, you'll typically want to perform 8-12 reps per set, striking the ideal balance for muscle growth. This rep range is crucial as it allows you to lift enough weight to challenge your hamstrings while still performing enough repetitions to create the muscle fatigue necessary for hypertrophy. Your hamstring muscles are key players in your lower body strength and overall mass, so targeting them with the right exercises and rep schemes is fundamental to your training success.

For each exercise you include in your hamstring routine, aim to complete 3-4 sets. This volume is effective for exhausting the muscle groups and promoting the growth you're after. It's not just about the number of reps and sets, though; the way you execute them matters too. Make sure to gradually increase the weight you're lifting to continuously challenge your muscles – this principle of progressive overload is a cornerstone of muscle adaptation and hypertrophy.

Rest is also a part of the equation. Allow for 1-2 minutes of rest between sets to optimize muscle recovery and performance. This rest period ensures you're able to maintain the strength needed for each set, contributing to effective mass building for your hamstrings.

Hamstring Training Tips and Tricks


To effectively enhance your hamstring strength and growth, it's essential to integrate both compound and isolation exercises into your routine. Here are some tips and tricks to make the most of your hamstring training:

  1. Master Eccentric Strength:

  2. Improve your eccentric control with exercises like the Romanian deadlift, which is a great hamstring exercise to boost hamstring eccentric strength and reduce the risk of hamstring strains.

  3. Slow down the eccentric phase to increase time under tension, fostering both strength and the length of the biceps femoris (a key hamstring muscle).

  4. Address Strength Imbalances:

  5. Use unilateral movements such as the single-leg Romanian deadlift to identify and correct any strength imbalance between the legs.

  6. This accessory exercise also ensures that maximum tension is placed on the hamstrings of the working leg.

  7. Increase Tension Strategically:

  8. Focus on improvements in eccentric knee flexor strength by including exercises that require a high degree of control and resistance, such as lying leg curls.

  9. Gradually add weight to compound movements like deadlifts and squats to maintain constant progression and tension on the hamstrings.

Hamstring Muscle FAQs:

Q: What are the best hamstring exercises for muscle growth?

A: Some of the best hamstring exercises for muscle growth include hamstring curls, leg curls, lying leg curls, and Nordic hamstring curls.

Q: How do hamstring exercises contribute to muscle growth?

A: Hamstring exercises work your hamstrings, one of the key muscle groups in your legs, leading to muscle hypertrophy and helping you build muscle mass and strength.

Q: What are the benefits of training your hamstrings?

A: Training your hamstrings not only strengthens your lower body but also helps in improving overall power and strength, reducing the risk of hamstring injuries, and enhancing core strength.

Q: What is a Nordic hamstring curl, and how does it benefit muscle growth?

A: A Nordic hamstring curl is an exercise to build strength and muscle in the hamstrings. It's one of the best exercises for hamstring activation and improving muscle lengths, contributing to muscle growth and strength.

Q: How can hamstring exercises aid in building strength and power?

A: Engaging in the best hamstring exercises not only works the hamstrings but also the glutes, providing a significant contribution to overall strength and conditioning, and in turn, enhancing strength and power.

Q: Are there any specific exercises to avoid hamstring injuries while promoting muscle growth?

A: Yes, certain exercises like Nordic hamstring curls and strength training targeted at the hamstrings and glutes can help reduce the risk of hamstring injuries while promoting muscle growth and core strength.


Q: How do hamstring exercises impact calf muscles?

A: Hamstring exercises indirectly work the calf muscles, as both muscle groups are involved in lower body movements and are interconnected in activities focused on power, strength, and training for strength.

Q: Can strengthening the hamstrings contribute to muscle growth in other areas of the body?

A: Yes, strengthening the hamstrings also supports muscle growth and strength in the glutes, contributing to overall lower body muscle mass and strength.

Q: What role do muscle and strength play in incorporating the best hamstring exercises into a workout routine?

A: Muscle and strength are the primary focuses when including the best hamstring exercises in a workout routine, aimed at building muscle mass, enhancing strength, and improving overall conditioning.

Q: How do hamstring exercises contribute to improving core strength?

A: Engaging in the best hamstring exercises is essential for improving core strength as it helps in stabilizing and supporting the lower body movements, leading to strength gains in the core muscles.

Other Frequently Asked Questions:

How Do You Build Hamstring Mass?

To build mass, you'll need to focus on lifting heavy with exercises targeting your hamstrings. Start with deadlifts—they're key for growth. Incorporate leg curls and stiff-legged deadlifts to isolate and work those muscles. Ensure you're progressively overloading, gradually increasing the weight or reps. Remember, adequate nutrition and rest are crucial; they'll support muscle repair and growth. Stay consistent, and you'll see your hamstring mass increase over time.

Which Effective Hamstring Exercise Works the Best?

Your body's symphony of movement hinges on the strings of your hamstrings, each exercise plucking at the fibers to compose a stronger you. The stiff leg deadlift reigns supreme for targeting your hamstring muscles with precision, offering a potent blend of stretch and strength. It's practical to incorporate this exercise, along with lying leg curls and wide stance box squats, into your routine for a comprehensive hamstring workout that's both informative and effective.

How Do You Overload Your Hamstrings?

To overload your hamstrings, you'll need to increase the challenge they face during workouts progressively. You should up the weights, resistance, reps, or sets regularly. Don't forget to check your form—doing it right maximizes gains and cuts injury risk. Mix in compound moves like deadlifts with isolation ones like leg curls. This combo ensures you're hitting every angle, fostering growth and strength in those critical muscles. Keep pushing; that's how you'll see results.

Do Bodybuilders do Hamstring Workouts?

Absolutely, as a bodybuilder, you're like a sculptor chiseling away at marble—your hamstrings are crucial for symmetry and power. You'll incorporate compound moves like deadlifts and squats, alongside isolation exercises like leg curls. This approach ensures a comprehensive leg workout, hitting your hamstrings from all angles. Remember, precision in form and practical progression in weight are key to bulking up those muscles effectively and safely.

Conclusion: Training Your Hamstrings

Congratulations, you're now armed with the ultimate guide to turning those hamstrings from "string beans" into "mighty beans." Stick to this holy grail of hypertrophy, and soon you'll need a license to carry those concealed weapons. Remember, it's not just about lifting heavy stuff; it's a noble quest for mass that would make even Hercules jealous. Now march forth, apply these informative, precise, and practical tips, and may your leg days be forever blessed with gains.

Profile Image Zed Walls

Zed Walls

Zed Walls, a vibrant and dedicated certified personal trainer, has been transforming lives in the fitness industry for over a decade. With a passion deeply rooted in strength and conditioning, Zed's journey began in his early twenties, where he discovered the empowering world of powerlifting. His remarkable strength and technique quickly made him a respected figure in local powerlifting circles.