Secrets of Building GREAT Hamstrings

This month I’m going to cover some oddball but effective exercises for the hamstrings and lower back. As well I’ll discuss training tips to make training these muscle groups even more effective. Although there are individual exercises for training the hamstrings, lower back and glutes, there is a lot of carry over. It’s difficult to work one of these muscles without involving the others. For example, when doing stiff-leg deadlifts, lunges, or good mornings it’s pretty hard to not work all three muscle groups at once to some degree depending on how you perform the exercise.

Many bodybuilders are unaware that development of the legs is not only important for proper symmetry and balance (you don’t want to be one of those guys at the beach wearing tank tops and blue jeans because you never train legs)—but they are important for over all body mass too, including the upper body and arms too. Russian research shows that 15 per cent of all upper body gains are caused by hard and heavy leg training, so you must work the legs if you are to achieve maximum upper body size, including the arms.

There are many unusual and effective ways of developing the hamstrings When most bodybuilder’s think of training for the hamstrings, it basically comes down to leg curls, lunges, and stiff-leg deadlifts plus whatever development they get in the hamstrings from squats and leg presses. But there are far many more exercises to train the hamstrings than just those exercises. So without further ado, let’s get to it.

Before I go any further, let me tell you one thing about champion bodybuilders you may not be aware of. Come closer. I’m going to share one of the “secrets” of the champs. Here it is. If a muscle group does not respond to regular training, champs will do anything—and I mean anything—to get it to grow. They experiment until they find the method that forces a muscle grow, no matter how extreme or unusual that training is. That’s why so many champions train in a completely different way. What works for one doesn’t work for another. One man’s meat is another man’s poison, but ultimately each champ discovers what works best for him or her. For example, if lying leg curls for four or five sets of six to 12 reps a set doesn’t work, some champs will experiment with very high rep sets to get a pump and to stimulate growth. If that means sets of 100 reps, they do it. If it means 30 or 40 sets for the muscle, they do it.

For example, Roger Stewart, former top NPC competitor, who had freaky legs, would start his hamstring workouts with sets lying leg curls for sets of 1 x 100 reps, 1 x 75 reps, and 1 x 50 reps, and than 1 x 35 reps.

Don’t think this type of training is weird or strange or unusual. I did a thigh training article with Vince Taylor for Flex magazine and Vince told me all he did for his quads were 72 sets of 45 degree leg presses, eight sets with two legs and 32 sets of one-legged leg presses. Each set was done for a minimum of 20 reps a set with less than a minutes rest between sets. Every eight sets Vince would vary his stance on the one-legged presses to work a different part of his quads. This is the only exercise Vince did in the off-season to work his quads. No barbell squats, Smith machine squats, hack squats, lunges or leg extensions. Vince also told me he had never done a single set of barbell squats in his life, but obviously he didn’t need them because the guy had freaky thighs (By the way, Paul Dillet told me he had never squatted either and he had freaky legs too).

Vince found his thighs didn’t grow when he used heavy weights for low reps (six to eight a set). He needed high reps, high sets and forcing a lot of blood into his thighs for a massive pump in order to make them grow. How many recreational bodybuilders would think of trying 40 sets of high rep leg presses to work their thighs if their thighs failed to grow with three or four sets? How many would think of doing leg curls for sets of 100, 75 and 50 reps like Roger Stewart?

Back when I was editor of MuscleMag I did a leg training article with Tom Platz, who might have developed the freakiest thighs ever. As you probably know Tom loved to do squats. But the secret of his freaky thigh development was not heavy low rep sets for three to six reps. No, Tom told me that his “heavy” leg day was—after warming up–squatting 405 pounds for 50 reps, followed by a second set of 405 pounds for 30 plus reps. That was it, just two working sets, but that’s all he needed to make his thighs grow. Then Tom did four to six sets of heavy hack squats for 10 to 12 reps a set, followed by six sets of heavy leg curls.

What Tom did on his so-called “light” quad day should have been listed in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. After a couple of warm up sets, Tom would put 225 pounds on the bar and squat for 10 minutes non-stop and without rest. He went by time, not by how many reps he did, although in 10 minutes he must have surely have done well over 100 reps. That was it, just one working set of squats. Then Tom would do hack squats and leg curls but with lighter weights and for higher reps than on his heavy leg day.

What makes this so unbelievable was Tom squatted deep and full—well past parallel—but he stopped an inch or two from lockout to maintain constant-tension on his quads. Can you imagine the burn and pain Tom must have felt in his quads after squatting for 10 minutes without rest? I can’t even fathom it. This was super human training intensity. Kind of makes Mike Mentzer’s Heavy–Duty training –a set of an exercise to failure for eight or ten reps plus a couple of forced reps on the last set, look ridiculously easy, silly, and a walk in the park by comparison. Tom Platz made Mike Mentzer look like a wimp.

Twice a month—or every two weeks—Tom wouldn’t do the squats of 405 pounds for 50 reps. He would pyramid up in weight and do two working sets of 600 pounds for 15 reps.

You notice anything about Tom’s training? The minimum amount of reps he used on squats was 15 reps, not for or six or eight reps. He did sets of 50 and 100 plus reps. He must have come up with this type of squatting for a reason. He must have done it because it made his thighs grow the best. Tom was years ahead of his time in terms of leg development. No other bodybuilder of his era had his freaky size, mass, shape, vascularity or such a ripped look of the thighs when he posed them—just a mass of cross-striations. It was unbelievable to see.

Tom definitely lead the way for the freaky kind of leg development common to so many pros of today, and he did it with inferior equipment—just one lying leg curl machine at the old Gold’s Gym (no seated or standing leg curl machines), one leg extension machine, no 45 degree leg press machines and inferior supplements. Why did all these great champs train so “light?” Because that’s allowed them to work their muscles the hardest, gave them a great pump, and that’s what made their muscles grow.

Champs do whatever it takes to make a muscle grow, no matter how extreme or crazy it sounds. Champs always focus on working the muscle first and foremost as they do their sets, not lifting the weight, while wannabe’s focus more on lifting the weight—in any style– instead of working the muscle. Another thing, champs cheat a little—Vince Gironda called it “creative cheating” while Dave Draper called it training with “rhythm”– because they know how to put the extra overload on their muscles, while wannabe’s—especially beginners and intermediates—cheat because it’s the only way they can move the weight.

Why Is Leg Development So Much Better These Days?
The main difference between the leg development of the professionals and world-class amateur bodybuilder’s of the past 20 years and those from the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and early 80’s, except for leg size and mass—the bodybuilder’s today are obviously much bigger than the champs of the past—is in the size and development of the hamstrings. Today’s champs have hamstrings bigger than their glutes! When they turn to the side at contests if looks as if their thighs are three feet wide. In Arnold’s day, bodybuilder’s had hamstrings half the size of their glutes, not bigger than them.

This is partly because of the sheer number of machines available to today’s bodybuilder’s to work the hamstrings. For example, when Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dave Draper, Frank Zane, Franco Columbu, Robbie Robinson, Tom Platz, Tony Pearson, Bill Grant, and Mike Mentzer and the other top bodybuilders who used to train at the original Gold’s Gym, at the time there was only one leg curl machine to work the hamstrings. It had been built by Joe Gold, and was very functional but it was only one machine.

The bodybuilders of the past had just one lying leg curl machine to work their hamstrings, plus they could do lunges and stiff-leg deadlifts—and whatever hamstring development they got from their squats and vertical leg presses (there were no 45 degree leg presses in those days) and that was it. When I went to LA in 1988 to cover the Mr. Olympia contest as editor of MuscleMag International magazine, I spent quite a bit of time prior to the show at the new Gold’s Gym. At the time there were 11 different machines for working hamstrings: Four lying leg curl machines, all from different manufacturers–which all worked the hams a little differently– three seated leg curls from different manufacturers, and three standing leg curl machines from different manufacturers, which allow the hamstrings to be worked either together or one at a time. Plus there was a machine that sort of looked like a buns buster. You bent forward and did sort of a backward one-leg leg press to work the hamstrings. These machines allowed bodybuilder’s to work and develop their hamstrings in a way not possible in the past. Today there are probably even more machines for working the hamstrings.

As well, by 1988 many bodybuilders knew by then how to do what I call Parrillo deadlifts or “hamstring” deadlifts, rather than stiff-leg deadlifts, which work the hamstrings much more effectively than standard stiff-leg deadlifts. I first learned of “hamstring” deadlifts from John Parrillo when 1986 Mr. Universe champ Steve Brisbois and I went to Cincinnati for four days in 1988 to learn from Parrillo about all his unique ways of training, performing exercises, his radical ideas on diet and nutrition, including his use of medium-chain triglyceride oil, and his intense stretching of muscles groups he called facial stretching and fascial planning (in which John literally manipulates the muscles to change their shape, such as adding peak to biceps, splits in calves, and width on lats).
It was a fascinating trip and I learned so much. I was considered an authority on all aspects of bodybuilding by then, but John made me feel like a novice at times.

Many bodybuilders think stiff-leg deadlifts are best for stretching the hamstrings out after performing leg curls and lunges. Some people stand on boxes or flat benches as their flexibility improves to lower the bar below their feet with the idea of stretching the hamstrings even more, but Parrillo deadlifts give the hamstrings a far superior stretch than standard stiff-leg deadlifts. When performing regular stiff-leg deadlifts you must allow the lower back to round over in order to touch the bar to your feet (or below your feet). Stiff-leg deadlifts done the conventional way are really just toe-touches with a barbell. When performing Parrillo deadlits, you pivot from the hips, not the waist, and your keep your lower back arched up at all times during the set. If you do stiff-leg deadlifts in this manner, you will not be able to lower the bar very far down—probably about half way down the calves—but your hamstrings will stretch like in an extreme way. You also give the glutes some work too.

Romanian Hamstring Deadlifts: Here are a few key points to doing Romanian deadlifts. (1) Arch your lower back as you begin your set and keep your lower back arched even in the bottom position. (2) Push your abdomen towards the floor. (3) Pivot from the hips, not the waist. (4) Lower the barbell as far down as possible, really feeling your hams stretch to the max. (5) At the top, tighten your glutes and drive your hips forward, and (6) Keep all muscle groups tight through out the set.

I find it helps to push the bar down and slightly away from the body at the bottom. John says don’t just return to the starting or top position. He says keep tight and return to the top position by pulling with your quads. This creates more tension and pull on the hamstrings.

High “Hamstring” 45 Degree Leg Presses: Another great and unique exercise for working the hamstrings I learned from John Parrillo was what I call high 45 degree “hamstring” leg presses. Adjust the back rest so it is more upright. Place your feet right at the top of the foot platform of a 45 degree leg press machine, so balls of the feet and the toes are completely off. Just your heels should be on the top edge of the platform. Use a wide stance, just outside the shoulders is right, so at the bottom your knees can go outside your shoulders or in to your armpits for a greater range of motion. Push hard from the heels and do deep, full reps of leg presses, for sets of 12 to 25 reps. With your feet at the top of the platform you will really feel your hamstrings working as you do your leg presses, This exercise also works, shapes, and builds the glutes. It’s a great exercise for anyone who has a flat butt and needs more glute fullness and roundness, as well as muscle tone. I found this exercise really added size and fullness to my hamstrings, especially when I supersetted it with triple drop leg curls, followed by Parrillo deadlifts to stretch my hamstrings out.

T-bar Stiff-Leg Deadlifts: This exercise is another unique exercise that I learned from Parrillo works the hamstrings hard and gives them a great stretch. Use a moderate weight and do high reps. Grip the bar and stand up with the weight so your legs are straight. As with Parrillo deadlifts, arch your lower back and maintain the arch throughout the set. Never allow the lower back to round over. Also, keep your arms straight. Do not row the weight. Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings at the top of the movement. Pivot at the hip and lower the plates down to their lower point. I find it helps if I thrust or stick my rear end out or backwards in the bottom position, when my legs are locked straight, to give the hamstrings extra stretch.

Smith Machine Lunges: I don’t know about you, but whenever I do dumbbell or barbell lunges I lose my balance. I’m one of those guys who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, so when I do lunges 95 per cent of the time I do them on the Smith machine, so I don’t have to worry losing my balance. The only difference between Smith machine lunges and barbell or dumbbell lunges is that rather than step forward, you step backwards with the hind leg. Keep your back straight and drive your hips forward. As always, stay tight and deep your reps with deep concentration.

If you’re a klutch too, give Smith machine lunges a try. As always, do lunges for high reps. I suggest at least 12 to 15 reps per set, if not more.

Lunges not only work and develop the hamstrings, they work and round the glutes and give the lower and middle quads work too for increased separation between the vastus heads of the thighs.

Eddie Robinson and his training partner used to do lunges up and down a football field with a 175 pound Olympic bar on their shoulders, and this was after many high rep sets of squats (500 pounds x 25 reps), 45 degree leg presses, hack squats and leg extensions. Afterwards they would vomit and collapse to the ground in utter exhaustion. This must have totaled at least two hundred reps for each leg, so don’t be afraid to do lunges for high reps—50 to 100 for each leg from time to time.

Lying Leg Curls: Of course everyone knows lying leg curls are for the hamstrings but there are a couple of different ways of doing the leg curls that work different parts of your hamstrings. If you do leg curls, for example, with the toes pointed, you work more of the lower hamstrings above the knees. If you do leg curls with your feet pointing upwards—the regular way—you work more of the middle part of the hamstrings.

John Parrillo feels any muscle group can be more effectively trained by returning a weight to the starting point by pulling down with the opposing muscle group. On barbell curls you do not just slowly lower the bar down with negative resistance, you “pull” the bar down with the power of the triceps, which increases tension on the biceps. On leg curls, don’t just slowly lower the weight down, “pull” the legs straight with the power of your quadriceps. This increases tension on the hamstrings before you begin your next repetition.

Seated and Standing Leg Curls: If you have really poor hamstring development, you should do all three kinds of leg curls: lying, seated and standing, plus Parrillo “hamstring” deadlifts to stretch the hams out. The only tip I can offer for seated and standing leg curls is to pull the legs back to the starting position with the power of your quads. This is a John Parrillo tip that really makes leg curls more effective.

Wide-Stance Hack Squats: This was a hamstring exercise often done by two-time Mr. Olympia champion Larry Scott, who never did any exercise for any muscle group in the conventional way. Larry actually calls this exercise the “Hips Off” hack machine squat. You can do these with your feet wide but low on the foot platform, or even while resting on the floor outside the foot platform. Descend as low as possible but as you start to ascend elevate the hips off the hack slide as you start to straighten your legs. At the top the hips and glutes should be completely off the hack slide device.

Rather than pushing to the top position with the power of the quads, you pull or pry the legs straight with the power of the hamstrings. Do three or four sets of eight to 10 reps.

Probably not an exercise you’ll want to do every hamstring workout but, remember, boredom is a bodybuilder’s worst enemy, as is adaptation to any exercise, training routine or training principle. Frequent change is necessary otherwise the body quickly adapts (strength and bodybuilding authority Charles Poliquin says the body can adapt to any training in as little as six workouts) and growth stops. Frequent change is a bodybuilder’s best friend.

Triple Drop Leg Curls: Many bodybuilder’s find that doing sets of six to eight reps in the leg curl—lying, seated, or standing—makes it difficult to isolate, stimulate, innervate (feel) or pump the hamstrings up. Like calves and forearms, hamstrings are a muscle group that benefits from higher reps. If you try to go too heavy you invite poor form and cheating. It’s difficult to get a good pump in the hamstrings or too innervate them properly.

I am a big believer in the Blood Volume Theory which states that the easier and better a muscle group pumps (due to blood volume), the faster and easier it grows. The worse a muscle pumps, the slower growth is, if it grows at all. All bodybuilders know that their best and easiest growing muscle groups are those that pump the easiest, while their worst are those that are difficult to pump, if they pump at all.

Also the hamstrings should be trained for maximum innervation. This means strong nerve impulses are sent from the brain via the neuro-muscular pathways to make the muscles contract forcibly. A muscle group that you have trouble feeling—it feels numb or mush—is a muscle group you have difficulty isolating, stimulating or to grow. Poor growth is due to poor innervation. What many bodybuilder’s fail to understand is that proper innervation training requires as much concentration and mental energy and effort as physical energy and effort. Physical effort without innervation is poor training. Never confuse physical effort with training a muscle properly. For example, doing heavy leg presses with 1500 pounds with a two inch range of motion may require a great deal of physical effort, but it won’t develop your quads.

If I ran a 100 meter dash against Olympic and world champion Usain Bolt of Jamaica by hopping up-and-down on one leg for 100 meters, I’d expend a lot of energy and a great deal of physical effort, but it wouldn’t be a very efficient way to run, would it? Likewise, tossing and heaving heavy weights around, cheating like madly and using a lot of speed, momentum and inertia doesn’t mean you’re training a muscle group properly. If you cannot feel a muscle as you train it, nor make it pump, it will not grow.

The Value Of Triple Drop Setting for Hamstrings Training
Personally, I think the most effective way to do any kind of leg curling is for triple drop sets. This way you perform low reps with heavy weights, moderate reps with moderate weights, as well as light weights for high reps all in one set. It’s so easy and convenient to do as well, as all you have to do is reach over and drop the pin in the weight stack to a lighter weight each time you want to decrease the weight. You don’t even need the help of a training partner, although you could have a training partner help you with a few forced reps each time you hit failure to increase intensity by having him push down on your calves for greater negative resistance. You can also have your training partner help you with forced reps and negatives at the end of a strict set of legs.

For example, after a light warm up set, a bodybuilder might do 100 pounds of lying leg curls for six reps, than drop the weight down to 80 pounds and keep going. When you hit failure, drop to 60 pounds and do as many repetitions as possible. When you hit failure once more drop down to 40 pounds and rep out till failure again. By the time the set is over, you’ve done 30 or more reps and your hamstrings have been worked very hard, innervated fully, and are pumped to the max. Do three or five triple drop sets of leg curls depending on how advanced you are and how much you need hamstring development..

I find triple drop leg curls—lying, seated, or standing—supersetted with high hamstring 45 degree leg presses gives my hamstrings a fantastic workout. I was not one of those bodybuilder’s genetically gifted in the quad or hamstring department. I grew up with hamstrings flatter than a ruler. Triple drop lying leg curls, supersetted with high hamstring 45 degree leg presses for four sets, plus three sets of Parrillo deadlifts really added size, fullness and roundness to my hamstrings.

One mistake many bodybuilders make—especially for those not genetically gifted in the hamstrings department—is they grossly under train the hamstrings. If your hamstrings are small and flat as a carpenter’s tool, you need to do just as many sets for them as other muscle groups. If you do ten or 12 sets for quads, pecs, lats, delts, biceps and triceps, you should do as many sets for hamstrings. It’s the only way.

I know. For years I grossly under trained my hamstrings by doing only three sets of lying leg curls and three sets of standard stiff-leg deadlifts. They just refused to grow or improve, until I trained them just as hard as my quads and other muscle groups. That’s when they finally started to grow.

I also found that my hamstrings grew best when I trained them on a separate day from quads. After 12 to 16 sets of various quad exercises, my legs were so tired that hamstring training became kind of an after thought. My hamstrings were numb and achieving a pump was impossible. I just didn’t have the energy or enthusiasm to train them as hard as I should have. If you have poor hamstrings, you have to make them a priority and train them first in your routine.

Training on a one-muscle-group a day routine training five days a week, I set up my routine this way:

Monday: chest, mini-quads (3 x 50 leg presses), calves
Tuesday: lat and lower back
Wednesday: Hamstrings, delts, traps
Thursday: Arms
Friday: Quads, mini-hamstrings (3 x triple drop leg curls or hamstring leg presses), and calves.
Saturday and Sunday: rest

Since all I have to do is look at a weight and my delts grow, I did hamstrings first on Wednesday when my strength, energy, and enthusiasm was highest. Friday was strictly for quads and calves, but I did some lunges and a few sets of high hamstring 45 degree leg presses for hamstrings as well.

McLish Leg Curls: Two-time Ms. Olympia champ Rachel McLish had a very unusual way of performing lying leg curls which worked the top part of her hamstrings, as well as part of her glutes and the glute-hamstring tie-in (and Rachel had some of the sexiest glutes around. (Ricky Wayne didn’t call her “Delish” McLish for nothing). You need great lower back flexibility to do these properly. Many men may find they lack the flexibility in their lower backs to do McLish leg curls but most women should have no trouble.

As Rachel curled the bar of the leg curl machine to her glutes, she lifted her lower thighs right off the bench. This allowed her to squeeze and contract her upper hamstrings, as well as her glutes.

If you do lying leg curls with the toes pointed, lying leg curls the regular way, and McLish leg curls you can work all aspects of your hamstrings, lower, middle, and upper.

Negative-Accentuated Leg Curls: This is an unusual but effective way to train hamstrings. To do negative-accentuated leg curls—lying or seated—curl the weight up with two legs but lower the weight slowly down with just one leg, fighting gravity and negative resistance all the way. Then curl the weight up with two legs again and lower with the other leg. Go back and forth until you hit muscular failure.

Lying High Incline Situp Board Body Curls: You must have a situp board that can be placed at a high angle to do this exercise. Set the situp board to a very high angle—the higher the better. Lie face down and put your feet and ankles beneath the strap or rollers to keep your body locked in. Now leg curl your upper body as high as you can. You won’t need any additional weight to work your hamstrings. This exercise is strenuous enough without weight. It’s a high repetition exercise, so do as many reps as you can. These are far harder than you might imagine. Do them first in your routine when your hamstrings are fresh and strong.

Partner-Assisted Lying Leg Curls: This was a favorite method of working hamstrings used by both Tom Platz and Roger Stewart, men who had freaky hamstring and thigh development. You need a training partner to utilize this method. Curl the weight up slowly and strictly on your reps of lying leg curls, but have your training partner push down on your ankles to increase negative resistance as you lower the legs down. Resist as hard as you can. Each negative portion of each leg curl should take six to 10 seconds.

You can also have your partner pull upwards on your ankles as you curl the weight upwards with the hamstrings to increase positive resistance. Doing partner-assisted lying leg curls both up and down each rep greatly increases intensity and works the hamstrings very hard. Only use this method when your hamstrings are well warmed up.

Spinal Erecters: Many bodybuilder’s are reluctant to do heavy deadlifts because they fear they will thicken their waists, but heavy deadlifts not only work the lower back and spinal erectors hard, they increase lower and mid-back thickness. They are also important for developing overall body power and strength. Canadian professional Henderson Thorne, one of the strongest bodybuilder’s I’ve ever seen, told me early in his career he stalled at squats with 405 pounds for 10 reps. No matter what he tried, he just couldn’t squat heavier. Then he added heavy dead lifting to his back routine, and in only about a year he was squatting 700 pounds for eight reps, a weight he also used on deadlifts. I even saw Henderson squat 800 pounds for two reps at a bodyweight of only 230 pounds (and without wearing a squatting suit used by powerlifters, which greatly increases the amount of weight you can squat with).

On deadlifts, move your shoulders up and back as you pull the weight off the floor. Make sure you keep the lower back arched and to drive your hips forward as you lift the weight up. As good as deadlifts are for lower back development and strength, I don’t recommend you deadlift heavy more than once a week. Some top bodybuilders deadlift heavy only twice a month. It probably takes longer for the body to recuperate from heavy deadlifts than any other exercise, with the exception of heavy squats.

Many bodybuilders train the lower back using a heavy-light format, one workout doing heavy deadlifts for sets of six (or less), followed the next workout by deadlifts done for 12 to 15 reps. You could also do stiff-leg deadlifts, good mornings, and hyperextension. All three work the lower back effectively without overloading it too much.

Sometimes I like to do a triset of good mornings, stiff-leg deadlifts and hyperextensions. The good mornings and stiff-leg deadlifts are done for sets of 10 to 12 reps, and the hyperextensions for 20 to 25 reps. Do three trisets once a week. This gives a great pump in the lower back and works the spinal erectors without putting too much drain on the bodies recovery systems, so do this last in your workout.

Hyperextensions: Although considered primarily a lower back/spinal erector exercise, by positioning your body on the hyperextension bench, you can affect the hamstrings, as well your lower back and the glutes, especially where the glutes tie in to the hamstrings. Instead of resting your thighs over the thigh rests in the regular hyperextension position, position your body more forward, so the thigh rest pad hit the lower thighs, not the upper thighs. Focus on raising your body with the power of your hamstrings. You will work glutes and hamstrings more than lower back. You can hold barbell plates at your chest to increase resistance.

Russian and former Eastern Block weight lifters did a lot of hyperextensions with fairly heavy weights and for sets of six to eight reps and they had unbelievable spinal erectors and lower back development.

Good Mornings: In the past this was one of the most popular exercises for the lower back, after deadlifts and stiff-leg deadlifts. As with hyperextensions, this exercise also works the hamstrings and the top portion of the glutes and the glute lower-back tie-in. Place a moderate to light barbell across your shoulders, holding the bar with a comfortably wide grip. Lock the knees and than bow down until your upper body is parallel to the floor, or just slightly above parallel. Keep the lower back arched at all times. Never allow it to round over. Really try to feel the stretch in the hamstrings each rep.

This is not a power movement for most people, so shoot for 15 to 25 reps a set. I said most people. Mike Francois used to use 405 pounds for eight reps on good mornings, and he had fantastic hamstrings, glutes and spinal erectors. Bill Starr says bodybuilders should use more than half their squatting poundage, so if you’re squatting with 315 for 10, you should be doing good mornings with half that.

Try these exercises and training tips out and see how your hamstrings will explode with growth!

greg-zulakAbout The Author
Greg Zulak has been working in the bodybuilding industry for well over 30 years now. He has written over 700 articles published since he began free-lance writing for Bob Kennedy in 1982. His articles have been published in MuscleMag, IronMan, Flex, Muscle & Fitness and Muscular Development. Many of my articles have been published in 19 different language around the world–even Japanese.

He’s currently in the midst of writing about what’s been going on with him for the past 14 years and he is giving away his latest eBook on Lat Training via his website: