Let's start with some Training Tips. Your shirts have steadily become tighter as your upper body has grown. However, your pants feel the same as the day you walked into the gym. You have been putting in the work, but your quad sweep isn’t getting any bigger. It doesn’t make sense. You have been consistently choosing the best lower body mass builders: Squats, Hack-Squats, Lunges, Deadlifts, Leg Extensions, etc. And you still look like you are wearing a pair of MC Hammer pants from 1990.
No worries. Your quads aren’t the problem. Your hamstrings are. Firstly, if you don’t have the proper hamstring to quad balance, your legs will NEVER reach their full potential. I challenge you to find a bodybuilder or athlete with huge quads that doesn’t have a matching pair of massive hamstrings. Secondly, the good news is that it doesn’t take much additional effort to get ridiculous results. Try adding theses Training Tips exercises to help get the leg growth you desire.
- SINGLE LEG RDL (RUSSIAN DEADLIFT)
The Single Leg RDL is one of the best exercises for getting your glutes and hamstrings to engage. Start in a standing position, holding a single dumbbell or kettle bell in the opposite hand. Slowly lower the weight towards your foot while extending the other leg straight backwards.
For instance, if balance is an issue, keep the non-working leg bent throughout the movement. At the top, try to squeeze the glute and hamstring of the working leg.
- GLUTE BRIDGE
The Glute Bridge is an easy, often overlooked exercise that is great to use as a warm-up and cool-down on leg days. While lying on your back, place your hands on the ground beside your glutes, palm down. Next lift your pelvis off the ground until your upper legs and torso make a straight line. Forcefully squeeze your glutes and hamstrings in the top position. Hold for 5-10 seconds, and repeat.
To fully activate the glutes, hamstrings, and abductors, make sure to squeeze your thighs together throughout the lift. Place a towel or pillow between the middle of your upper legs and squeeze with equal pressure. Therefore, Focus on not allowing the towel or pillow to move throughout the movement.
- GOOD MORNINGS
I have saved the best for last. Good Mornings. The have the ability, when done correctly, to give you one of the strongest hamstring stretches and contractions you have ever experienced. Most people are unaware that the hamstrings attach to the lower back, and are covered up by the glutes. That is why no other posterior chain movement can work out the ENTIRE hamstring muscle like a Good Morning.
Start by placing the bar on your traps like you are about to perform a squat. While keeping a slight bend in the knees, imagine gripping the ground with your toes and feet as you bend forward at the waste. Keep your back straight, and chest up while you lower and lift the weight. At the top position, squeeze your hamstrings and glutes like you are trying to crack a walnut between your cheeks (not the ones on your face).
For instance, to get the most out of Good Mornings, perform 10-12 controlled reps per set. Start with light weight (just the bar), until you get the hang of the movement. You don’t want to pull a hamstring by using too much weight and improper form. The heaviest you ever want to go with Good Mornings, and I mean after years and years of training, and with a 500+ pound squat, is 225lb. After that, you have been performing the movement correctly for several months, start adding weight like you would any other regular exercise. Your goal should be half of what you squat, or 225lb, whatever you reach first. For an added variation, try the one-legged Good Morning.
If you are having trouble getting your legs to respond to your current training, your hamstrings and glutes are probably underdeveloped. Once you start correcting your hamstring and glute weaknesses, your legs will start to blow up. And as a bonus, your squat numbers will start to drastically improve.
Below are the 3 exercises you can add to your routine to fix your current leg situation. Perform them, in the order bellow, at the beginning of your workout on days you perform a squat, deadlift, clean, or snatch. You will notice a difference in the activation of your glutes, hamstrings, and abductors, and the ability to fully close your hips while performing those compound movements.
- Single Leg RDL
- Glute Bridges
- Good Mornings
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